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London Knights to the lead at GCL Shanghai

Friday, 20 April 2018
CSI5* LGCT Shanghai 2018

Photo (c) Sergio Grasso/GCL Emily Moffitt for the London Knights. Photo (c) Sergio Grasso/GCL.

The London Knights are the leading lights after round one of the GCL Shanghai, seizing pole position ahead of Saturday’s decider. The classy pairing of Ben Maher and U25 rider Emily Moffitt led the cavalry charge from the off and their double clear proved unassailable.

Berlin Eagles' duo of Ludger Beerbaum - who makes his return to CSI5* level following injury last year - and Christian Kukuk were the only other team to go clear. But their mighty challenge was not quite enough to beat the scorching time set by the scarlet-coated Knights.

“It all went to plan in the ring today and we’re off to a very good start,” said Ben Maher, who also took the individual honours as the quickest rider in the competition, riding Explosion W. “My horse was amazing today — he’s so fast — but both our horses jumped great and we’re happy to be in the lead. I think it will be bigger and more technical tomorrow though.”

“It was an extra bit of pressure today,” said Emily Moffitt, who impressed with a brilliant round in the Shanghai arena, her first appearance this season for the Knights team. “I had my best horse ‘Tommy’ which made me less nervous but I think for once Ben was more nervous than me. I’m going to swap to Tipsy tomorrow and hopefully do the same.”

Uliano Vezzani had built a typically clever course, which looked manageable but with plenty of places to catch out riders as they looped around the spacious arena, horses requiring the power to soar over wide oxers and the care to ping the towering verticals, particularly the double to finish, with riders needing to keep organised. “It’s a nice start, every jump is difficult but it’s a nice relaxed start,” assessed Christian Ahlmann before the start.

Powering out of the starting blocks, the London Knights quickly gained the upper hand, with Ben Maher and Explosion W scorching round for a sizzling clear — an outstanding 12sec inside the time — before his student and U25 rider Emily Moffitt challenged in fine style to put the pair in on a zero score.

The bar was set sky high, but this solid pair had made the course look deceptively easy and the pressure told as poles started to fall.

The only other team to remain faultless was Berlin Eagles’ Christian Kukuk and Ludger Beerbaum, at his first show back after suffering multiple fractures to his arm in a fall. The Eagles and Knights will be going head-to-head tomorrow is a tantalising prospect, but with a large portion of the field remaining on relatively low scores, it’s going to be extremely tight going through to Saturday’s decider.

“It doesn’t happen very often when you hold on to the lead till the end – some riders got very close there at the end, though,” said Maher, who plans to ride the Poden Farms-owned Explosion W again in the second round of the GCL.

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

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