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GCL competition wide open in Championship race at Tops International Arena

Friday, 26 August 2022
CSI5* LGCT Valkenswaard 2022

Photo © GCL Ben Maher and Ici for Paris Panthers. Photo © GCL.


Edited press release from Global Champions League



In dramatic results for the first round of GCL Valkenswaard, 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, 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. According to the rules 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, Paris Panthers head into tomorrow in pole position after a clear from Ben Maher and Ici and just a single rail but a fast time from Nayel Nassar onboard El Conde. After no clean sheets, three other teams sit on just four faults including league leaders Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M, 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 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 were some big jumps that came 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 leader board 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, who 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 Longines Global Champions Tour of Valkenswaard 2022 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 was eliminated, the drama didn't stop there. Cannes Stars also won't start tomorrow after a refusal from Isabella Russekoff and Jumpy van de Hermitage while the Scandinavian Vikings didn't even start due to a withdrawal from Yuri Mansur.  

Stockholm Hearts's female firepower was the first team to put in a solid performance after a flawless clear form Lily Attwood on Cor-Leon vd Vlierbeek Z and an unlucky one down for Lillie Keenan and Queensland E keeping the chances high of extending their championship lead. But hot on their heels Berlin Eagles duo of Ludger Beerbaum and Philipp Weishaupt secured yet another consistent two rounds putting the pressure on for tomorrow. 

Home team Valkenswaard United fielded the mighty John Whitaker and Equine America Unick du Francport who delivered the goods but an unusual 12 faults from Laura Kraut and Calgary Tame mean the team have a lot of work to do if they want a podium position. 

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