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Pirates navigate to knife edge victory at GCL Berlin

Saturday, 28 July 2018
CSI5* LGCT Berlin 2018

Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso Photo (c) GCL / Stefano Grasso

It all came down to the final fence at GCL Berlin today, after Valkenswaard United dramatically lost their lead to St Tropez Pirates in an edge-of-the-seat battle in Germany's capital city. 

Edwina Tops-Alexander and Pieter Devos kept cool under pressure to secure the only completely clean score of the weekend, taking a second win this season as they look to cement their place in the GCL Super Cup and GC Prague Playoffs this December. 

In a heart-wrenching turn of events, the final fence of the day cost United the win, and the team finished third just behind ranking rivals London Knights - the overall leaders pulling out a perfect double clear today to finish second and add to their lead where they sit on 244 points.

Tactics paid off for the St Tropez Pirates after Edwina Tops-Alexander opted to compete again with her on-form mare California (l'Esprit x Libero), her horse flying around the course and well suited to the fast paced arena. The pair delivered a masterful clear, before Pieter Devos and Claire Z (Clearway x Coronado) took centre stage - the Belgian rider making a tactical change to swap horses for this competition. Remarkably the pair clocked exactly the same time, to the millisecond, as Edwina - keeping the team on a completely clear score and ahead of the London Knights that carried four faults from Friday's first round.

Final team to go Valkenswaard United had all the pressure on their shoulders - only a fast double clear would win them the Berlin leg of the GCL. And it was a win they so badly wanted to help their campaign to take the top spot from the London Knights.

Marcus Ehning entered the arena to applause from the crowd, and quickly proved the epitome of grace under pressure as he piloted Comme il Faut (Cornet Obolensky x Ramiro) to a brilliant clear, setting up teammates Alberto Zorzi and Fair Light van 'T Heike (Vigo d'Arsouilles x Darco). The duo looked strong, flying around the arena in good time as they approached the final line - a win in their sights. But it all came down to the final combination, the second Longines oxer at the double proving a push too far and groans went up all around the arena as the pole fell, dropping the team to third and securing the win for St Tropez Pirates - their second of the season.

“It’s fantastic. We really needed to have a win - it’s pushed us back up again, and we’d really like to get to the Playoffs, so it was a great day today. We both focused on trying to jump double clear and it worked! After yesterday, the course was much more technical, so there were faults everywhere - and that really helped us today," said Tops-Alexander of St Tropez Pirates.

“We did a good job today. I decided to bring my two best horses here and I alternated who I rode - for me it was a good decision to come today with a fresh horse. She was amazing so I’m very happy. We both decided to go for the team result and not think about the individual result and that’s why we got double clear. The course designer did a super job - there were faults everywhere and it was really good sport right to the last fence," said Tops-Alexander's team mate Devos.

The GCL now looks to London, where home city team and overall ranking leaders London Knights will be looking for another podium result to cement their place in the lead.


Press release from GCL

Picture © GCL/Stefano Grasso

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