Mexico City, Mexico – April 30, 2022 – The Hamburg Giants kick-started their 2022 GCL season campaign with a breathtaking win in Mexico City, dramatcially snatching victory from the only other team on a clean sheet, the St. Tropez Pirates.
Brilliant double clear from the seasoned Jur Vrieling (NED) and teammate Bart Bles (NED) propelled them to the the top of the podium with the Pirates in second and the Cannes Stars in third place. Tension remained high right up until the last rider on the last team as fortunes rose and fell in dramatic fashion.
A beaming Jur Vrieling (NED) said: “I didn’t wan to take any risks. We just wanted to bring the trophy home and we did.”
Teammate Bart Bles (NED) praised the team: “It was a really good job today. the horses jumped fantastically; Jur did an amazing job and I am really happy. we have a strong team this year but we have to make the overall championship win. I definitely think we can be on top of the podium at the end of the year.”
The Hamburg Giants now lead the GCL Championship standings on a total of 68 points but the Berlin Eagles also sit on the same number of points, just with fewer podium finishes, forcing them into second place at the moment. The Madrid in Motion round out the top three on 61 points, keeping themselves in the race heading to their home event in two weeks.
Under brilliant blue skies and the extraordinay giant Mexican flag fluttering over the aren, the team contest got underway with thousands of spectators and guests creating a vibrant festival atmosphere. The course on the immaculate grass arena at Campo de Marte set a serious test with connecting lines and plenty of opportunities to cut corners but a long five strides to the final wide GCL oxer proved costly for many.
Overnight, there were 17 changes, which is the highest number of horse-and-rider swaps this season. Eight teams brough new riders off the bench while 9 teams brought in fresh horsepower. With 10 teams sitting within a rail of each other, it was all to play for in the huge grass arena.
First to go, the Istanbul Sultans rode their first double clear of the season with U-25 rider Sanne Thijssen (NED) on Con Quidam RB, and Omer Karaevli (TUR) with Cheston de La Pomme d’Or Z making the venue erupt with two world-class clear rounds, keeping them on their overnight score of 16 penalty-points.
After their sensation kick start to the season in Doha, there was disappointment for the Stockholm Hearts, powered by H&M We Love Horses, after a costly two down from Nicola Philippaerts (BEL) and Katanga vh Dingeshof. Even the clear round by Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Legend of Love couldn’t keep the team inside the top ten on Saturday.
Championship leaders, the Berling Eagles stayed with Ludger Beerbaum (GER) on Mila and Christian Kukuk (GER) with Mumbai for the 6th time this season. Mila showed her class once again, producing the all important clear but the pressure got to Kukuk and they stopped the clock with one down, bringing the total up to 8 penalty-points, being off the podium.
For the Madrid in Motion, who currentyly sit in third place in the team standings, it was an unusual two down from Olympic bronze medallist, Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Beauville Z, followed by a flawless clear from Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP) on Bentley de Sury. But the damage had been done, leaving them in 7th place.
Pilling the pressure on the remaining teams to come, the St. Tropez Pirates made history by coming home with a score of 0 in Mexico City, after world-class rounds from U-25 rider Michael Pender (IRL) on HHS Calais, and Daniel Deusser (GER) with the incredible Killer Queen VDM. But they weren’t fast enough as the Hamburg Giants, who came into the arena and meant business. Setting off at a faster parce , the pair of Bart Bles (NED) on Kriskas DV, and Jur Vrieling (NED) with Fiumicino van de Kalevallei, delivered the good to sail ahead of the Pirates.
Overnight leaders, the Shanghai Swan team of Christian Ahlmann (GER) and Katrin Eckermann (GER) chose to shift to their most experienced horses to try and take it across the line but in dramatic fashion, their team tatics didn’t pay off. The team who have won the leg in Mexico twice before had three fences downs, having to settle for 8th place overall.
The GCL Championship now looks to Madrid, for the fourth round of electrifying competitions in the 2022 season.
Final Results – Global Champions League of Mexico City CSI 5*
1) Hamburg Giants – 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 = 0 / 161.00
2) Saint Tropez Pirates – 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 = 0 / 163.32
3) Cannes Stars – 0 / 0 / 0 / 4 = 4 – 163.25
Source: Press Release (edited) from GCL – Global Champions League
Photo: © LGCT / GCL / Stefano Grasso