It looks like Thomas Frühmann and The Sixth Sense are poised to repeat their astonishing indoor season from last year, when they won repeatedly. In the German Classics at Hannover, Germany, Oct. 26-29–the fourth of five legs in the 2006 Riders Tour–the Austrian rider again topped all international stars and snatched victory in the TUI Grand Prix from Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum.
On Saturday of the show, the 1992 FEI World Cup Finals winner laid the base for his Sunday win, taking second aboard the 10-year-old Westphalian gelding in the grand prix qualifying class behind Markus Beerbaum and Leena. This success allowed the racy combination to go second-to-last in the initial round of the 36-horse grand prix.
In the TUI Grand Prix, 10 riders qualified for the jump-off, with all the riders starting the jump-off with a clean slate. Beerbaum lost the chance for a repeat win when the 8-year-old Holsteiner stallion Herald (Heraldik–Lorenz) showed a great performance in the first part of the course, but got a bit strong during the ride and finally had three rails down.
Markus Fuchs took advantage of this format, coming back as the fastest four-faulter from Round 1 on Nirmette. Aboard the 11-year-old Ramiro Z daughter, he finished the jump-off clear and in 35.21 seconds, which put a lot of pressure on the following combinations.
Several riders heard rails fall, but when Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum rode into the ring on Checkmate, she made quick work of taking over the lead, jumping clear in 33.85 seconds. As the last to jump-off, Frühmann and The Sixth Sense began the course conservatively but made up time in the second half in the longer lines.
In the end, they beat Michaels-Beerbaum by .15 of a second, relegating Fuchs to third. Fourth went to the 2006 FEI World Cup Finals winners Marcus Ehning and Sandro Boy, ahead of the 2006 German Ladies’ Champion Janne-Friederike Meyer and Buettner’s Calandro.
Meyer, the 25-year-old daughter of a famous horse breeder, started her own show jumping barn right after her high school examination. She had a rail down at the last fence, and with 34.17 seconds, she had the third-best time of the jump-off.
Some interesting names didn’t even qualify for the grand prix. The U.S. rider Will Simpson had 16 faults in the qualifying class with El Campeon’s Tosca. And Holger Wulschner, who led the Riders Tour after the first three legs, had 8 faults in the qualifier.
With his third place at Hannover, Fuchs, 51, has now taken over the lead in the Riders Tour. And Frühmann, 54, lies right behind him in second, pushing Heinrich-Hermann Engemann from second to third.
The final leg of the tour takes place at the Munich Indoors (Germany), Nov. 30-Dec. 3. Both Fuchs and Frühmann have a good chance to win the Rider of the Year award in the finale. So far, the honors have only gone to a member of the Beerbaum family: the first three times by Ludger Beerbaum and the following two times by his sister-in-law Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum.
The leg of the Team Trophy went to the Audi team, with Ludger Beerbaum, Marco Kutscher and Bernardo Alves–who is training with Beerbaum now. Beerbaum had the only rail down of his team, aboard Enorm, but the team won on its four-fault score without jumping off. For Beerbaum, it was his first show back after a four-week break, serving his suspension for his 2004 Athens Olympics doping charge. The Audi team has a one-point margin (16) ahead of the Sprehe Feinkost Team (15) and the P.S.I. Foerderteam (13) in the standings of the Riders Tour Team, which will be also decided at the Munich Indoors.
Earlier in the week, Beerbaum won the Championat of Hannover on the 10-year-old stallion Couleur Rubin, who placed 12th in the 2005 FEI World Cup Finals (Nev.). The stallion was making his return to the show ring after recovering from an injury for the last year and a half, and showed great class again.