Dani G. Waldman and her wondermare Lizziemary sprinted to their second Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) victory of the season with a nail-biting finish on a hot afternoon in Berlin.
Waldman, of Israel, won a six-horse jump-off at Berlin’s Sommergarten with a clear round, just 0.35 seconds faster than German legend Ludger Beerbaum with Cool Feeling.
Although Germany’s Christian Ahlmann and Take A Chance On Me Z were almost one second faster than Waldman, the 2017 Berlin winner finished third with four penalties.
“I like to think she’s one of the best in the world,” Waldman said after taking her third win on the LGCT for the world’s top show jumpers.
“She tries so hard and there isn’t a single day that she doesn’t lay it all out. The only time that I don’t do well is if I screw up, so as long as I do a good job she’s always there for me. It’s a privilege to ride her and she’s an amazing animal. Every time I go out there, she’s unbelievable.”
Waldman, who used to compete as Danielle Goldstein until she recently married, joins Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs as the only competitor to have won twice this season.
After the first four riders in the jump-off — Britain’s Harry Charles, Ahlmann, Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts and Frank Schuttert of the Netherlands– failed to go clear, Waldman entered the sandy arena in the knowledge an error-free ride would earn her a spot on the podium.
After Waldman took the lead with a clear round, Beerbaum and Cool Feeling were greeted with a huge cheer from the Berlin crowd.
Alhough the multiple Olympic champion was faster than Waldman for most of his ride, the Israeli rider ended up winning it in the last stride.
Waldman was initially unaware she and her 13-year-old chestnut had won the competition.
“I had no idea, honestly,” she said. “I walked out, and I was all the way up in between the warmup and the ring, and I couldn’t see, and I didn’t know if he had won or not, I didn’t know if I had won, I had no idea. I didn’t even get to see it or anything.”
Beerbaum’s second place earned him a spot in the LGCT Super Grand Prix in November in Prague.
“I’m really pleased,” he said. “If someone this morning would have said to me…you are second in the Grand Prix, I would have signed straight away. And it is indeed qualification for Prague, which I am really looking forward to. Respect to Danielle, she really deserved to win today.”
Beerbaum, 55, compared himself to “taking an old dog to the hunt again: when you smell a bit of blood, you are really excited, and that’s how I feel.”
Having won Shanghai earlier in the season, which earned her a ticket to Prague, Waldman said she was able to ride more freely in Berlin.
“In Shanghai, when I won, it really did take the pressure off,” Waldman said. “And here, honestly, I really had no expectations. The horse, I want to get ready for the European championships in a few weeks. I just took her here, and I thought ‘Alright, she feels great.’ I really had no idea this was coming today, I’m thrilled.”
Although Pieter Devos and Apart finished in 12th place in Berlin with four penalties, it was enough for the Belgian to regain the overall lead after 13 of 18 legs.
Devos now sits atop the leaderboard with 249 points, 17 points clear of Germany’s Daniel Deusser, and 25 points ahead of the previous series leader, Ben Maher of Britain.
Global Champions League
Titouan Schumacher of France and Bart Bles of the Netherlands sealed the first ever win for the Hamburg Giants in the Global Champions League (GCL) as they were the only team to go double clear on the second and final day of the team event.
Beerbaum and fellow German Christian Kukuk finished second with Berlin Eagles at eight penalties. Devos and Waldman were third with St Tropez Pirates, also on eight faults, but just 0.12 seconds slower than the Eagles.
“Really good, I was thinking I have to go clear today and the horse jumped fantastic today, I was lucky,” said Bles, who put down two clear rounds with his 11-year-old Belgian-bred stallion Israel v.d. Dennehoeve.
“Really fantastic,” added Schumacher, who had four penalties with 12-year-old Atome Z on the first day. “Two amazing runs today, and I am really happy.”
There was no change at the top of the overall GCL leaderboard, with Miami Celtics leading with 235 points after 13 events. That’s just four points clear of Shanghai Swans and seven points ahead of the London Knights and the St Tropez Pirates, who are tied in third place.
After two stops in Germany, the next leg of the regular Tour will be held in London, on August 2-4.