TWENTY-two-year-old Mikey Pender came close to winning the first five-star Grand Prix of his career in Hamburg last weekend when he was joint runner-up in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix with the Irish Sport Horse HHS Calais.

It was a GCT Grand Prix podium first for Pender who was among eight riders to jump clear around the Frank Rothenberger-designed course to qualify through to the jump-off.

Third last to go against the clock with the Bravo Hughes-owned 11-year-old gelding, he was going at full speed and rode the round of his life with the big scopey Cavalier Royale-sired gelding, who was bred by the late Ita Brennan. He crossed the finish line in 51.33 seconds, the exact same time as Germany’s Andre Thieme and his 2021 European champion DSP Chakaria, to share second place.

Victory on home soil went to Christian Ahlmann with the big jumping stallion Dominator Z. They were third into the arena and set the standard in 50.51 seconds. Alongside him is an already stellar line-up qualified for the GCT Super Grand Prix of Ludger Beerbaum, Katrin Eckermann, Denis Lynch, Sanne Thijssen and Malin Baryard-Johnsson.

Win for Gordon

Mayo’s Jonathan Gordon won two seven-year-old classes at the venue aboard the Aidan Carroll-bred Irish Sport Horse gelding CBI Karhari (Goodluck VDL x Kroongraaf), who was produced in Ireland by Shane Goggins before being sent to Gordon by owner Denis Gallagher.

He won on Wednesday and Friday. The Ruth Loney-bred Bellevue Celestial (Luidam x Limmerick) placed fifth in Wednesday’s class under Anthony Condon. (See photo page 95).