Rodrigo reigns supreme in Geneva

Rodrigo reigns supreme in Geneva

Brazil's Rodrigo Pessoa made it a double when winning the Gandini Top Ten Final in Geneva tonight with a vintage performance from Baloubet du Rouet. Last to go in the second round, he only had to jump clear to take the title for the second time in the five-year history of the event, and the 2003 champion did it in style when his 16 year old stallion once more rose to the big occasion.

The Palexpo arena in Geneva was packed to capacity for the exciting
competition which, offering a prize-fund of almost €114,000 and with the added bonus of a Rolex watch for the winner is one every rider wants to take.

Christian Ahlmann, currently lying 12th in the world rankings, gained access to the class when Britain's Nick Skelton and America's Beezie Madden did not travel to the Swiss fixture and, first into the ring with the eight year old Lorenzo, the German collected five faults.

Sweden's Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and MacKinley finished inside the time
but left a pole on the floor when next to go and then the reigning European gold medallists, Germany's Marco Kutscher and Montender, clipped the vertical at fence three.

Eurocommerce Monaco was jumping for fun for Gerco Schroder when returning a lovely clear round but the clock showed a single time penalty and then Ireland's Jessica Kurten and Castle Forbes Libertina made it all the way to the very last fence – a liverpool oxer – before
making their only mistake. Ludger Beerbaum, who took the Top Ten title
in both 2001 and 2002, cleared the treble combination at fence eight
but his young gelding Enorm caught the narrow stile that followed at fence nine so, with just four left to go, no clear round had yet been recorded.

Markus Fuchs was to change that however as he steered Granie round for
a fault-free performance that drove the home-crowd wild with delight and then Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum fell victim to one of the questions asked by course designers Heiner Fischer and Rolf Ludi when she got her line wrong between the big blue wall at fence six and the following rustic oxer where Shutterfly clipped the back rail.

Second-last to go in the opening round, Baloubet du Rouet looked his usual over-confident self as he bounced into the ring but Pessoa kept him on a short stride over the first few fences to keep his trademark exuberance in check and it paid off as the Brazilian partnership left
all the timber in place to join Fuchs on a zero score while Marcus Ehning looked like doing exactly the same with the ultra-obedient Gitania who, however picked up one time fault as Ehning put in an extra stride going to the last.

Markus Fuchs knew he had the crowd on his side and they roared encouragement as he headed off, but the bogey rustic oxer hit the floor once more. As always his sense of humour kicked in when he was interviewed afterwards however as the 50 year old rider said «I'm so
young – maybe next time I will get it right!» So when Pessoa cantered
into the ring he knew a clear would clinch it and that´s exactly what
he did. The 33 year old Brazilian star has an uncanny ability to produce extra-special performances when the big money is up for grabs and, once again, his stallion was in a class of his own as they made it all look so very, very easy.

Results (10/11/05)

1º Rodrigo Pessoa (Bra) / Baloubet du Rouet / 0/0-49,82
2º Marcus Ehning (Añe) / Gitania / 1/0-47,76
3º Markus Fuchs (Sui) / Granie / 0/4-45,43
4º Gerco Schröder (Hol) / Eurocommerce Monaco / 1/4-47,01
5º Christian Ahlmann (Ale) / Lorenzo / 5/0-51,21
6º Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (Ale) / Shutterfly / 5/0-52,17
7º Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (Sue) / Mac Kinley / 4/4-46,32
8º Ludger Beerbaum (Ale) / Enorm / 4/4-47
9º Jessica Kurten (Irl) / Castle Forbes Libertina / 4/4-47,31
10º Marco Kutscher (Ale) / Montender / 4/12-52,96

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