Photo: FEI/Daniel Kaiser

Taloubet Z has been retired from competition after taking Christian Ahlmann to victory in front of a home crowd in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Western European League in Leipzig, Germany.

‘Greatest day’

It was a fairytale finish to a fabulous career, as Christian and Taloubet were the last of 15 combinations in the jump-off. It seemed too good to be true that they could

The 18-year-old super stallion showed what a pro he still is, to effortlessly beat the world-class field that had jumped before him. There was hardly a dry eye in the house during the prize-giving ceremony, with the German duo taking centre stage.

“It’s the greatest day of my life for sure, not for the points or for the money, it’s much more than that,” said an emotional Christian. “It’s because this great horse, who still has all this power even at this age, is ending his career in a great way, with a great win!”

‘Very special’

Taloubet carried Christian to four World Cup Finals and they won team bronze at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The German rider admitted he felt under incredible pressure at their last event together.

“I really didn’t want to mess it up for him,” said Christian. “This was just a normal World Cup, like we have every week. But it was very special because it was the last class for Taloubet, and we took the risk to jump him so he could say goodbye here, where everyone knows him, and leave the sport in great shape.”

Dream team

It looked like Carlos Lopez had it in the bag, scorching through the finish in 43.39 seconds with Admara. Harrie Smolders and Zinius, who won the previous leg in Mechelen, gave it their best shot but fell short by two-tenths of a second.

However, last in were the dream team Christian and Taloubet, who took the final fence at a flat gallop, to break the beam two-tenths of a second faster than Carlos. Even the Colombian runner-up wasn’t disappointed, saying “today is all about Taloubet”.

With just three qualifiers left to go, Christian has qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2018 Final in Paris in April.

The next leg is in Zurich, Switzerland on Sunday 28 January.

You can watch all the action on H&C. FEI World Cup Jumping: Leipzig premieres on 25 January at 8pm on Sky 253 and online via H&C Play or Amazon Video. H&C Play subscribers can then watch it on Catch Up.