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Diamonds shine under pressure in power-packed GCL Paris

Saturday, 07 July 2018
CSI5* Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping 2018

Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/GCL. Harrie Smolders and Jos Verlooy for the Diamonds. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/GCL.

Temperatures soared in France’s capital city as Montreal Diamonds’ Harrie Smolders and Jos Verlooy kept cool under pressure to take their first win of the season at the GCL Paris.

With all eyes on the GC Prague Playoffs, where only the top 16 teams will qualify, the Diamonds’ win today has boosted the team’s chances of fast tracking to the quarter finals which sees the leading four teams guaranteed a place. With clear intent and full focus on the GCL, team anchor Harrie Smolders said: "We will be putting our best horses forward for the GCL -  that’s our first priority. It’s very close from 3rd to 7th, so there will be a battle to get into the top four - but that’s our aim and that’s our goal for the next few shows.” 

And the Diamonds have started that campaign with vigour, moving up to fifth in the overall standings with 154 points, just one point away from the Scandinavian Vikings and Rome Gladiators who sit on 153 apiece and in joint third.

Following today’s results, the London Knights keep hold of the overall ranking lead, with a total of 214 points, 12 ahead of rivals Valkenswaard United who have 202 and have narrowed the gap slightly.

First of the double clears, Madrid in Motion, took centre stage putting Eduardo Álvarez Aznar and Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (L'arc du Triomphe x Apache d'Adriers) out in front. The pair delivered, opting for a steady and careful round which paid off - keeping a clean score and passing the pressure to teammate Marc Houtzager with Sterrehof's Calimero (Quidam de Revel x Libero H). But the Dutchman kept his cool, piloting the expressive horse to another clear, shooting the team to the top of the leaderboard.

Montreal Diamonds were the penultimate team to go, with U25 rider and Jos Verlooy putting in a brilliantly quick clear with Igor (Emerald Van 't Ruytershof x Nabab de Reve). The young Belgian star gave teammate Harrie Smolders as much space as possible with the large striding stallion Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire), and the world number 1 delivered, putting the team in first place with just the Hamburg Giants yet to go.

Sameh El Dahan of the Giants pulled out a magnificent clear with Suma's Zorro (Ard VDL Douglas x unknown), with the win down to the wire as final rider to compete René Lopez and Twig du Veillon (Diamant de Semilly x Tornado d'Hotot) set off a steady canter. But two poles and a time fault would prove costly, dropping the team in pole position off the top of the leaderboard and off the podium.

So the win would go to the Diamonds, with Madrid in Motion in second and Miami Celtics taking third after a spell-binding afternoon of top sport in Paris.

The League now look to Chantilly for the 11th round of action, as the battle for a place in the GC Playoffs hots up.

“I was really happy today - it was my job to go clear, I thought Harrie would go clear so we just stuck to our plan. We want to win in Prague!” Jos Verlooy, of Montreal Diamonds, said after the victory. 

“Now we have our strategy focused on the GCL. I think Don and Igor are in great shape at the moment so we had the feeling we would have a chance here which is why we took them. You’re never sure of a clear! I checked the time before I went in, and Jos did good so I knew we would be ok, but Don did a great job," Harrie Smolders added.

Source: Press release from the GCL // Photo © Stefano Grasso/GCL

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