None of the top eight riders in the rankings were competing, giving the riders slightly lower down the standings a good chance to gain some valuable points.
The indoor arena was packed to the rafters, with the Spanish crowd hoping for a home victory.
Christian Kukuk and Colestus were the first clear round of the day, and it stayed that way past the halfway point of the class, with a single four fault ride and two riders with one time penalty.
After the halfway break things changed dramatically with five clears in a row from Irma Karlsson, Olivier Robert, Jos Verlooy, Gudrun Patteet, and Leopold van Asten guaranteeing a hotly contested jump off.
Edwina Tops-Alexander and Vinchester joined the jump off as expected, as too did the German master Ludger Beerbaum, Italy’s Emanuele Guadiano and Austria’s Max Kuhner aboard his WEG mount Chardonnay.
Ten horses would take on the jump off and a superstar lineup and Beerbaum set to finish off the day, there was no telling who would take top honours. To underestimate any of these riders would be foolish, as proved by Kukuk’s stellar clear to start the day on 46.86.
the last jump
Karlsson’s tight turn to the combination unfortunately resulted in a run out at the second element, dashing her chances of a podium finish.
Robert shaved one second of Kukuk’s time, but smart money would have betted that subsequent riders would be able to set a faster pace.
Patteet and van Asten both got deep into the same upright, knocking the pole off but clocking up fast four fault rounds and gaining valuable World Cup points, while Max Kuhner tipped the rail off the very first fence.
Jos Verlooy proved that Robert could indeed be usurped from the top of the leaderboard but his first place position was short lived when Edwina Tops-Alexander and her nine-year-old stallion soared over the last jump in 42.26.
Guadiano put up a good fight but came in at 43.01. It was only Beerbaum standing between Tops-Alexander and victory and despite fighting hard, he came home clear but slightly slower than Guadino, leaving the German icon in third place.
The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Western European League season continues in London on Saturday, December 22. Watch live action on FEI TV
Words by Sophie Baker
Images by Manuel Queimadelos