Valkenswaard, The Netherlands – August 26, 2022 – In dramatic results for the first round of Global Champions League of Valkenswaard CSI 5*, taking place at Tops International Arena, home of the Longines Global Champions Tour, results left spectators and competitors stunned.
As a result of a retirement from Eric van der Vleuten (NED), the Madrid In Motion were eliminated from the 12th stage of the season and have subsequently been knocked out of the race from finishing in the top four. In the rule of the Super Cup which is to be held in Prague, Czech Republic this November, the top four teams based on the GCL overall classification will be fast-tracked to the semi-finals of the GCL Super Cup.
The road to the Championship Final is on the home stretch, with just four more legs left this season. The GCL round 1 in Valkenswaard did not disappoint, providing exciting spectating in the impressive world-class facility of Tops International Arena.
With tactics at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the Paris Panthers head into tomorrow in pole position after a clear from Ben Maher (GBR) and Ici and just a single rail but a fast time from Nayel Nassar (EGY) onboard El Conde. After no clean sheets, three other teams sit on just four faults including league leaders, the Stockholm Hearts, powered by H&M, the Rome Gladiators and Berlin Eagles, powered by Fundis. A further five teams sit within a pole of each other, highlighting the high calibre of sport and the drama that could unfold for Saturday’s showdown.
Ben Maher (GBR) explained: “It was a difficult class, it’s an amazing arena here at Valkenswaard, we’re not jumping on grass so often these days, maybe the horses were backing up a bit and there was some big jumps that come on early in the class. Our team has been struggling a little bit the whole year, jumping good rounds but not coming at the right end of the leaderboard on Saturday. Yet again we’ve had a good start like in London last week, we need to keep it up and make good decisions tomorrow.”
Commenting on their team strategy for tomorrow’s big day. Ben said: “It’ll be down to our team boss Rob Hoekstra (NED) will decide who he wants to jump tomorrow. My horse is really inexperienced at this level and he really stepped up and improved from London to this week but he still needs rounds and is still learning on the job so I’m not sure if I’ll be jumping tomorrow but we’ll have a team talk later on and we’ll all be helping each other either way.”
As the afternoon and day one of the 2022 Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard came to a close, riders and horses alike settled into the world-class facilities at the impressive Tops International Arena.
After the first team in the arena were eliminated the drama didn’t stop there. The Cannes Stars also won’t start tomorrow after a refusal from Isabella Russekoff (USA) and Jumpy van de Hermitage while the Scandinavian Vikings didn’t even start due to a withdrawl from Yuri Mansur (BRA) and Vitiki.
The Stockholm Hearts‘ female firepower was the first team to put in a solid performance after a flawless clear form Lily Attwood (GBR) on Cor-Leon vd Vlierbeek Z and an unlucky one down for Lillie Keenan (USA) and Queensland E keeping the chances high of extending their championship lead. But hot on their heels, the Berlin Eagles duo of Ludger Beerbaum (GER) on Mila and Philipp Weishaupt secured yet another consistent two rounds putting the pressure on for tomorrow.
Home team Valkenswaard United fielded the mighty John Whitaker (GBR) and Equine America Unick du Francport who delivered the goods but an unusual 12 penalty-points from Laura Kraut (USA) and Calgary Tame mean the team have a lot of work to do if they want a podium position.
It wasn’t the team debut Kevin Jochems (NED) as the Hamburg Giants finished with a total of 12 penalty-points between himself and Jur Vrieling (NED). With the magnificent ‘spider’ tower watching over the arena the threat of rain held off, and fans watching from around the world were treated to a thrilling display of horsemanship from the 16 GCL teams.
Don’t miss any of the action as GCL Round 2 of Valkenswaard starts tomorrow at 14:00hs and teams will be strategising to secure maximum points as the Championship accelerates towards the final!
Final Results – Global Champions League
1) Paris Panthers – 4 – 143.03
2) Stockholm Hearts – 4 – 143.69
3) Rome Gladiators – 4 – 145.89
Source: Pres Release from Global Champions League
Photo: © GCL / Stefano Grasso