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High wire GCL duel sees Valkenswaard United close in on Hamburg Diamonds

Saturday, 29 July 2017
CSI5* LGCT Berlin 2017

Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso. Valkenswaard United wins the GCL leg in Berlin. Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso.

Valkenswaard United stormed to a blazing win at the Global Champions League of Berlin in a high wire showdown closing the gap on Hamburg Diamonds in the overall team title race. 

Three teams started out in hot contention for today’s win. But, in early drama, Miami Glory’s Denis Lynch clocked up four faults dropping the squad out of contention from pole position. It was down to the two top-ranked teams to prove themselves in front of thousands of fans in the Sommergarten arena in the German capital.

The 11th round of the Global Tour circuit sees Berlin join the glittering calendar of destinations and proved to be a popular debut.  Crowds packed the picturesque location, lining the grassy banks and filling the grandstands - the natural amphitheatre set up giving fans a perfect view of the arena.

The course was big all the way, with a galloping blind corner to finish. A tight turn back to an imposing wall featuring the Brandenburg Gate, and a treble combination featuring a gappy vertical in, and wide oxer out, threw in a few tests for the ride  and horse combinations in the unusual oval-shaped sand arena. 

Ludger Beerbaum of the Cannes Stars had the crowd on their feet with one of the early clears, after the four-time Olympic Gold Medallist put in a flawless round with Chacon (Chacco-Blue x Aventyno). The crowd had plenty to cheer about after teammate and compatriot Marco Kutscher pulled out a class round with Clenur (Carinue x Fernando) to keep the team clear in the second round. Ludger was quickly followed by Lorenzo de Luca of the Rome Gladiators who managed the hot chestnut Halifax van het Kluizebos (Heartbreaker x Fetiche du Pas) beautifully to add another clear to the team’s tally. 

Both Alberto Zorzi of Valkenswaard United and Eric Lamaze of the Hamburg Diamonds put in a clear round each, keeping their respective teams on a zero score, passing the baton back to their teammates and keeping the Championship race alive. 

Drama came early on, after pole position riders Miami Glory picked up four faults when Denis Lynch and RMF Bella Baloubet (Baloubet du Rouet x Landadel) agonisingly rolled a pole in the formidable oxer. Extra pressure would land on the ice cool shoulders of teammate Scott Brash and Hello Forever (For Pleasure x Nimmerdor) needing to keep a clean score to stay in with a chance of the podium. 

Home city Berlin Lions treated the crowd to a sensational double clear after Max Kühner and Chardonnay 79 (Clarimo x Corrado I), and U25 talent Anna Kellnerova and Classic (Armitage x Chin Chin) put in a flawless effort. Sadly the faults carried through meant the team would not be on the podium today, but the crowd were delighted with their home city team performance. 

Up and down the order every pole became costly, and after Ben Maher and Kent Farrington of the London Knights put in a double clear the team shot up the scoreboard. 

The crowd watched in anticipation as Jos Verlooy entered for the Hamburg Diamonds. A clear would mean a podium, but a pole down could cost them a chance of the win, worse still, the overall ranking should they drop too far down the order. Riding Igor (Emerald van't Ruytershof x Nabab de Reve) quickly but carefully, Verlooy galloped to that last taking a tight angle at the final vertical. But it would prove costly, as the pole rolled, putting the team down on four faults. 

All eyes would be on his friend and rival Bertram Allen of Valkenswaard United. A clear would secure the win and earn the team valuable ranking points, but the pressure was intense for the young Irish talent and his horse Izzy By Picobello (Cicero Z x Capriano). The crowd watched on as Allen delivered a masterful clear, securing the win and closing the gap to Hamburg Diamonds in the overall rankings. 

The action would come down to the wire, as final rider to go Scott Brash and Hello Forever of Miami Glory had everything to do to keep the team on the podium, with only a fast clear to do. Watched on by teammates Georgina Bloomberg and Denis Lynch, the ice cool Brash flew around the arena, taking the course in his stride. But it wasn’t to be, as a pole down at the oxer would drop the team down to 8 faults, and agonisingly off the podium. 

So it was the third win of the season for the blue and orange Valkenswaard United putting them tantalisingly close to regaining the overall lead. The next round of action heads to the spectacular new destination of London, where the Royal Hospital Chelsea will be the backdrop for the 12th round of thrilling action in the battle for the title. 

Source: Press release from GCL / photo (c) Stefano Grasso/GCL. 

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