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Diamonds shine brightest in 2017 Global Champions League

Saturday, 11 November 2017
CSI5* LGCT Doha 2017

Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso. Eric Lamaze and Harrie Smolders secured Hamburg Diamonds the GCL title for 2017 in Doha. Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso.

Hamburg Diamonds secured their "dream" Global Champions League overall title victory tonight, despite a dazzling win by closest rivals Valkenswaard United at the final team event of 2017 in Doha.

18 teams kicked off the 15-event season in Mexico City, and in a series that has seen a rollercoaster of results and battles, it all came down to Al Shaqab, Qatar, with a two-team head to head.

Harrie Smolders of the Diamonds, who has secured an unprecedented double as the star Dutch rider is also the winner of the 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour said: "I see a big growth in potential for the Champions League. We will definitely come back and we enjoy being a part of it - it makes our dreams come true."

His team-mate Eric Lamaze, riding with a rib injury, added: “I was honoured in Florida when Axel Verlooy asked me to join the Hamburg Diamonds.” Reflecting on the season he said: “It was magical. I knew I wanted to take this seriously and try to bring my best horses to every event."

Hamburg Diamonds’ other key players this season have been John Whitaker, Audrey Coulter, Jos Verlooy and Piergiorgio Bucci who joined the team during the transfer period before Rome.

Valkenswaard United, who took the title in the inaugural GCL last year, were represented by Bertram Allen with Molly Malone (Kannan x Cavalier) and Alberto Zorzi with Fair Light van’t Heike (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Darco) in this final and both produced measured double clears to soar clear of a high class field of 18 teams.

“We came here knowing we had to win here today, and unfortunately it wasn’t enough to win the League, but we gave it a good shot all year,” said Bertram. “We’ve had plenty of ups and downs but at least we finished on a really great note.”

In a hotly contested race to the end, some intrepid riding from the Mexico Amigos helped them secure the final spot on the GCL podium in third.

“It’s a big team effort for the Diamonds. We already decided last year that we wanted to make the team better and we made some improvements. Eric and I finished the job here but it was an essential contribution from Audrey Coulter, Jos Verlooy and John Whitaker. Also because of Eurohorse, Axel Verlooy and Copernicus - with their support and their management behind us - they put us on the edge with a bit of pressure, but in a very good way, and that makes us be at our best," concluded Smolders. 


Source: GCL press release // Picture © Stefano Grasso / GCL

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