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The GCT: The drama is in place and the tour's biggest title is on the line

Monday, 21 November 2011

Edwina is in the lead ahead of the last leg of the Tour. Photo by Stefano Grasso/GCT. With under a week to go to the Global Champions Tour final round in Abu Dhabi (November 10-12th), excitement is at fever pitch and speculation is rife about whether Australian Edwina Tops-Alexander or German Ludger Beerbaum will win this years series. For Edwina sits with 238 ranking points and Ludger with 218.50 points, isolating themselves from the rest of the field.

Even with a win in Abu Dhabi, those who rank below Edwina and Ludger, including closest rivals Alvaro de Miranda Neto, Luciana Diniz and Denis Lynch, all will be unable to capitalise on their points to be in the race for the championship title.  They will however be competing in Abu Dhabi for further exceptional prize money that is to be spread between the top GCT ranked riders.

Following her September wedding to GCT founder Jan Tops, Edwina set sail to Oslo, Helsinki, Lyon and Verona World Cups before heading to Abu Dhabi. Ludger on the other hand followed Hannover German Classics, Lyon World Cups and also the Stuttgart German Masters where he won the Grand Prix with Gotha. They are now both ready for the Abu Dhabi showdown with Ludger bringing Chaman and Edwina set to compete with Cevo Itot de Chateau.

In 2011, the ranking system continues to be set to allocation of points according to Grand Prix placings.  Brazilian Alvaro de Miranda Neto led the GCT ranking from the outset with the win in Doha riding AD Ashleigh Drossel Dan and he remained ranking leader after each of the first three legs of the tour. Irishman Billy Twomey won the second leg of the tour with Je t’Aime Flamenco and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson the Hamburg leg with Casall La Silla.

Watch out for Ludger this weekend - he might take home the overall win. Photo by Stefano Grasso/GCT.Although Edwina Tops-Alexander won the Cannes round, Ludger Beerbaum claimed the ranking lead with a 3rd place in the Grand Prix adding to his solid placing points gathered in Valencia (2nd) and Hamburg (2nd).

After a mixed bag of performances by the best ranked riders at the Monaco event (Edwina 7th, Ludger14th) they remained at the top end of the ranking at this stage. Winner of the Monaco event Rolf-Goran Bengtsson (SWE) again riding Casall La Silla moved up to 5th place on the GCT ranking. Edwina acquired the GCT Ranking leader armband following the Monaco event eclipsing Ludger’s ranking score by just 4.5 points.

It was not held for long, as the following weekend in Estoril, Ludger placed 3rd and Edwina didn’t get on the scorecard thus handing the armband back to Ludger. She remained in 2nd ranked position and Luciana Diniz (POR) moved up to 3rd ranked rider after a resounding second place in the Grand Prix to sit just 6 points adrift of Edwina.

Victory to Edwina in Chantilly restored the GCT armband and along with a 4th place in Valkenswaard and 3rd in Rio de Janeiro Edwina lands at the final in Abu Dhabi at the top of the ranking list.

For those who had great winning success in Estoril (Christian Ahlmann-GER riding Taloubet Z),  Valkenswaard (Beezie Madden-USA-riding Cortes C ) and Rio de Janeiro ( Gerco Schroder-NED-riding Eurocommerce London) only Christian and Gerco will be competing in Abu Dhabi.  They are hoping to be in the top billing of the Grand Prix as well as the top GCT ranked 18 to take a portion of the additional 1 million Euros that will be handed out.

Ludger who didn’t add to his scorecard in Chantilly and Valkenswaard, earned further points in Rio de Janeiro with a very tidy 5th place that ensured he kept his 2nd placed GCT ranking slot as he heads into the final in Abu Dhabi.

Asked how satisfied he is with the GCT this season and his second placement on the GCT ranking he was quick to praise. “The GCT 2011 is one of my highlights this year. Right now I rank on the second place therefore I´m very satisfied.”  And he was also confident heading into the final in regards to extra pressures due to the two rider final race. “There is no extra pressure! I am on the second place, and I can reach the first place in Abu Dhabi. I presume every participant has got the same supposition in the ring. So I will give my very best and accept the result. I have got more than 30 years experience to handle the mental case.”

Who will win the GCT title in the final round? Both Edwina and Ludger are very ready for the challenge and spectators can be assured of no lack of drama. When you've got this much money on the line, this is exactly what you want to see in the sport of show jumping. Fans are ready to stand up and take notice and can view the proceedings via the GCT Live Streaming and Eurosport broadcasting.

The opening classes are set to commence on Thursday 24th November with the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates set to start on Saturday 26th November at   20h45(CET).  Live Steaming of all of the 5* events can be viewed at  along with the first round of the Grand Prix on Saturday 26th November at 20h45 (CET) .  The full Grand Prix action can be taken in via Eurosport who will broadcast at 22h15 (CET).

Source: Press release from the GCT.

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