Tension filled the air as Thomas Frühmann and The Sixth Sense jumped their way around the Grand Prix of Munich’s jump-off round. The class, held as the finale of the Munich CSI, Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in Munich, Germany, was the final event of the Riders Tour, and the overall title hung in the balance.
Coming into Munich, Frühmann stood tied for first with Marcus Fuchs in the standings, after five of the six Riders Tour events. Since Fuchs retired in the first round and didn’t qualify for the jump-off, it looked to be Frühmann’s title to lose or win. The former looked more likely, as The Sixth Sense caught a rail at the third fence in the jump-off.
After that, the Austrian rider sped up, and his 34.50-second time put him into eighth place. Frühmann earned enough points to eke out the Riders Tour title by one point over Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum, who won the Grand Prix of Munich on Shutterfly.
“For me, it is already Christmas!” Frühmann said. “I am totally impressed and I do not know what to say. The Sixth Sense was incredible again today. I just can say, I am so happy to have this horse. I just hope he will still stay sound for a very long time.”
With The Sixth Sense, a 10-year-old, Westphalian gelding, Frühmann, 55, has experienced something of a rebirth at the top of the sport. The 1992 FEI World Cup Final winner, Frühmann had dropped from the top levels of show jumping in recent years. But early this year, with The Sixth Sense, he took the sport by storm, winning grand prix classes at Leipzig (Germany), Vigo (Spain), Dortmund (Germany), Gï¿½teborg (Sweden), Wiesbaden (Germany) and Cannes (France).
“After how the last 11ï¿½2 years have gone, Hanover [Germany, where they won the Riders Tour grand prix] and Munich have just been encores,” Frühmann said. “In the jump-off, I didn’t really have a plan, since I did not really know how it would work out in the final standings of the Riders Tour. But, when I came out off the ring, Heiner Engemann knew already that the result would be enough to win the Riders Tour.”
In Munich, only four of the 29 starters went clear in the initial round, built by Frank Rothenberger. But for the Riders Tour grand prix, 10 are brought back to jump-off, and all 10 return to scores of 0.
Michaels-Beerbaum had won the Prix de Volkswagen AG Grand Prix on Saturday, which was the qualifier for the Grand Prix of Munich. She chose to ride Shutterfly in Sunday’s class.
Michaels-Beerbaum, who won the Riders Tour individual title in 2004 and ’05, was somewhat surprised that her win in the Grand Prix of Munich didn’t secure her another title. “I thought my time would be fast enough,” she said. It was fast enough to win the class, but since she was just in seventh place before the final, it wasn’t good enough to beat Frühmann.
With a seventh place at Munich, Heinrich-Hermann Engemann jumped into third place in the Riders Tour final standings. Ludger Beer-baum–fifth in the standings before Munich–was poised to make a bid for the title, but it wasn’t to be. In the first round, L’Espoir, 10, had two rails down. Beerbaum finished eighth in the final standings.
On Saturday, Beerbaum was also surprised by the result of the Riders Tour Team final. Beerbaum had been quite self-confident before the class that his leading Audi Team would still be in the lead after the final leg. Audi team member Marco Kutscher had provided the team with a clear round, Bernardo Alves had three poles down.
Even Beerbaum’s clear round couldn’t undo the damage done by those 12 faults, which put them into fifth in the class.
Adding only 2 points to their series total, they had to settle for second place behind the Sprehe Team, represented by Thomas Voss, Holger Wulschner and Christian Ahlmann in Munich.