In a fairy-tale ending to a sensational weekend of sport, Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward reign supreme in the €480,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Stockholm presented by Fabege.
Taking one spot better on the podium than last year, Von Eckermann beat Shane Breen on Haya by 0.06s to secure his Golden Ticket to the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix in Prague this year, while the electrifying jump-off captivated audiences as power duo Marcus Ehning and Stargold finished third for the second year running in Stockholm.
After three days of intense competition and breathtaking moments the dream weekend for Swedish fans came to a close in royal style. Ecstatic Swedish fans celebrated late into the night as home star pulled off an epic win in a nail-biting climax to the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Stockholm.
On the form of their lives, Henrik Von Eckermann and King Edward have catapulted into the top ten, cementing their presence as real Championship contenders.
Singing the praises of the mighty King Edward, when questioned if there was more room for the partnership to get better and to turn up the heat for his champion mount, an emotional Henrik told GCTV: “I don't need to - he’s given me more than ever he can do, and as long as we stay good and he stays healthy, I know there are going to be more good things.”
“Of course when you have a good feeling and self confidence it always helps, I felt like yesterday even though I had the greatest round from my riding point of view, the horse felt amazing… I won many things with him, but it was a long time ago that he felt like this.”
On the other side of the spectrum, Shane Breen and Haya secured an incredible second place, missing out on top spot but just 0.06 seconds, in their debut 5* and Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix as a combination.
An ecstatic Breen commented on her impressive form to GCTV: “I’ve been using her a lot in speed [classes], so I knew she was pretty quick. But I thought to get on the podium would be amazing, to win would just be another dream. But to come second, I am absolutely over the moon.”
In his typical Irish humour, Breen quipped “It’s her first Grand Prix ever, and it took the best combination in the world to beat us!”
2023 Championship Standings After Leg 7 in Stockholm:
1st Place - Maikel Van Der Vleuten - 175 points
2nd Place - Malin Baryard-Johnsson - 160.14 points
3rd Place - Christian Kukuk - 134 points
The action got underway in the first round as riders faced Uliano Vezzani’s 1.60m course which took no prisoners and required power and precision. But Shane Breen raised the temperature as he punched the air and praised Haya when he crossed the finish line clear and fast. He was shortly joined by the biggest horse and rider legends in show jumping making it one of the strongest 9 rider jump-offs this season.
There was a tense silence around the arena when Shane Breen and Haya entered the arena as the first to go in the jump-off. The pair set the pace making tight rollbacks and a flat-out gallop to the last to stop the clock in 46.23s.
With a lot to do after Breen’s showcase of a jump-off, Gregory Wathelet riding Nevados S and Derin Demirsoy on Koblenz vd Middelstede, in his first ever LGCT Grand Prix jump-off, couldn’t keep all the fences up finishing bottom of the order.
In front of a full house Mark McAuley and the one eyed wonder Django Ste Hermelle was the first to take a risky strides out where possible as he turned up the gas as he went clear but in a slower time of 48.62s.
11 time LGCT Grand Prix winner Ben Maher brought out the fairly new ride in Dallas Vegas Batilly for his first LGCT Grand Prix of the year. The extraordinary horse produced a double clear just off the pace, stopping the clock in 46.88s and having to settle for fourth overall.
Jumping yet another double clear on the ever consistent 16 year old Mom's Toupie de la Roque, Pieter Devos picked up valuable championship points two weeks in a row catapulting into fourth place on 133.6 points and kick-starting his season campaign.
For the second year in a row, Marcus Ehning produced yet another spellbinding jump-off on superstar stallion Stargold. Stopping the clock just fractions of a second slower than Breen as Stargold threw in his famous buck when crossing the finish line as the crowd cheered.
The adrenaline surged and breath’s were held around the arena as Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana took center stage. It was stunning jumping as the Swede looked set to storm into the lead, until the last fence came tumbling down and the disappointment was palpable.
The atmosphere was electric ahead of the final rider as the Swedish crowds hoped for a re-enactment from 2019 when Peder Fredricson made it a home win as last to go.
In a nail-biting climax, Henrik von Eckermann stepped forward aiming for not only his fourth win of the weekend but the biggest one yet, with full support from the home crowd. It was down to the wire in Sweden and the gloves were off as spectators held their breath and there was a deafening silence in the arena. Risking it all, Henrik pushed King Edward to take a stride out to the combination. He gave it everything to the last and stopped the clock 0.06s faster, securing the win as the stadium erupted.
As the Swedish national anthem played out, the ice cool show jumping supremo sang along with the crowd which was overflowing with patriotic pride.
Next stop on the global circuit is in the center of Paris as the Tour takes place next week under the Eiffel Tower from 23 - 25 June.
Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Stockholm presented by Fabege
1st Place - Henrik von Eckermann & King Edward
2nd Place - Shane Breen & Haya
3rd Place - Marcus Ehning & Stargold