The battle between Monaco Aces and Paris Panthers continues to intensify as the Aces landed pole position with a lightning-fast 10 second margin ahead of tomorrow’s GCL showdown in Berlin.
Under blue clear skies in Germany’s capital city, the formidable, blisteringly fast duo of Julien Epaillard and Jérôme Guery were the fastest of six teams on the clean sheet in GCL Round 1. Winners of the previous leg, Paris Panthers fielded the same powerful combination of Nayel Nassar and Darragh Kenny and currently sit in second place while New York Empire’s Spencer Smith and Denis Lynch are hot on their heels and only just behind.
The leading team spoke of their determination to convert their advantage into victory tomorrow with Epaillard saying: “We feel good, today a lot of teams were clear. It’s a good start but I think tomorrow will be a tough course as we have only done one part of the job at the moment.”
Guery then added: “Here it is a smaller arena but my horse did super. I'm really happy with how he jumped today. I hope he jumps the same tomorrow.”
As the first event since the GCL’s mid season transfer window it was a fascinating glimpse of some of the new signings for the second half of the power-packed season.
It was a dramatic afternoon of top-level team show jumping as Frank Rothenberger’s course in the compact sand arena overlooked by the city’s landmark Funkturm tower was tackled by the best of the best in show jumping.
New York Empire
Today’s pathfinder Spencer Smith tackled the course with sheer determination from start to finish on Theodore Manciais. They made it look easy and brought home the important clear, but not in the fastest time, before handing over the reins to teammate Denis Lynch. Riding GC Chopin's Bushi, Lynch took all the inside turns and kicked GCL Berlin off with a double clear in 144.61 seconds to claim fourth spot overall.
Sadri Fegaier picked up early faults on the big striding Chianti's Champion before it all fell apart and they brought home 17 faults. With teammate Bosty watching on, Rene Lopez Lizarazo and Kheros van't Hoogeinde needed to post a clear to keep the team from a bigger tally, but there was heartache when the last fence fell and they finished with 21 faults and at the bottom of the leaderboard.
The Aces had unusual team tactics for this weekend bringing only two riders with one horse each, but it paid off. The tight oval-shaped arena suited Julien Epaillard and Solero MS who posted a quick clear round proving why they are key members of the team. The pressure was on Jérôme Guery and Great Britain V who looked like they were going for a steadier clear at the start. They picked up the pace mid course and made up crucial seconds to take pole position in a stunning 134.30 seconds.
There was drama for the Miami Celtics when Dublin van Overis and Jorge Matte Capdevila took a stride out in the triple combination. The pair managed to re-collect themselves and finish the round but with 9 faults. Opting to ride the 10 year old Conthinder, Andrzej Oplatek didn’t take any risks but had an unlucky pole going into the triple combination to finish with 4 faults and bring the team total up to 13.
Home city team Berlin Eagles got a warm reception and deployed Laura Klaphake and Quinn first. Klaphake delivered a superb clear setting up a perfect platform for team success. Maestro Ludger Beerbaum followed on his trusty Cool Feeling in a strategic move to try and move up the overall season rankings. Beerbaum piloted Cool Feeling to a solid clear in 146.67 seconds to finish the slowest on 0 faults.
Fresh from their success in Monaco and fielding the same winning formula of Nayel Nassar and Darragh Kenny the Paris Panthers were looking to continue their flying form. Riding the consistent Oaks Redwood, Nassar opted for a slower pace to get it right and not take any risk to keep all the fences up. Darragh Kenny had the opposite approach and soared around the arena on Vinci de Beaufour taking it all in his stride and stopping the clock in a blistering time of 67.29 seconds to slide in behind the Aces.
Making his debut on the London Knights team, new signing Douglas Lindelöw from the recent mid season transfer window, proved straight away why he had been picked up by the Knights. Delivering a slow and steady clear with Casquo Blue before handing over to his teammate. Riding the stunning Katanga v.H Dingeshof, Nicola Philippaerts fell short at the liverpool putting the team on the backfoot for tomorrow as they added 4 faults to the scoreboard.
Leopold van Asten and VDL Groep Elegant Hero Z put in big efforts over the obstacles looking set for a clear but there were gasps from spectators when he got way too deep to the final fence knocking it down and clocking up 4 faults. Jur Vrieling then crossed the finish line in a healthily fast time and clear keeping the team up the starting grid for tomorrow.
Current Championship leaders Valkenswaard United showed their talent today with Edwina Tops-Alexander on Fellow Castlefield and Alberto Zorzi with Cinsey jumping foot perfect clear rounds once again. The dynamic duo kept their rounds neat and tidy to complete in 146.08 seconds and slot into fourth place going into tomorrow’s showdown.
St Tropez Pirates
Olivier Robert on Vivaldi Des Meneaux cleared the early challenges beautifully and it looked to be a display of poetry in motion until fell apart at the triple combination and they finished with 8 faults. Clear round machine and team anchor Pieter Devos had it all to do with his impressive mare Jade v. Bisschop who was precise and scopy to help deliver a brilliant clear round.
Bart Bles and Comme-Laude W worked hard despite a rub on GCL oxer. The combination used all the corners of the arena to bounce to the next fence, delivering the clear for the Giants. Back from injury Suus Kuyten looked on track for another clear on Alfa Jordan until they too were caught out by the orange oxer by the entrance to the arena as she got too deep. It was a total of 9 faults as they crossed the finish line and the Giants had to settle for 13th place.
The strong pairing of Evelina Tovek and Winnetou de la Hamente Z delivered an immaculate clear round demonstrating serious elasticity and agility to finish clear. But there was disappointment for Teddy Vlock and Conner as they took down the back rail of the bright orange oxer added with a time fault to put the Vikings on a costly 5 faults.
It was a fantastic start for the Falcons as Titouan Schumacher and Atome Z flew round the oval arena to come home with a clean sheet. Bassem Mohammed riding Gunder opted for a steady speed and went wide to the tricky Longines oxer. Adding strides proved costly as they pulled off a clear round but with one gut wenching time fault.
Madrid In Motion
Madrid In Motion fielded the experienced combination of Eric van der Vleuten and Wunschkind 19 to tackle the course first. There were some tricky moments in the course as they fell victim at two fences finishing with 8 faults. Mark McAuley kept things on track with Cap West as they left all the fences up, but were caught out by the time allowed to pick up a time fault and cause the team to finish with 9 faults overall and way down the order.
Agustin Covarrubias had lots of pressure to deliver with multiple teams sitting on a double clear. Riding Flora de L' Impermeable it was an unlucky two down dropping the Stars down the order before handing over to his teammate. Sameh El Dahan rode a hugely impressive clear round with WKD Aimez Moi but it was too late and the team were already down the order with 8 faults.
The final team to jump fielded young American Lucas Porter and Hope Street first. The combination put in a feisty round taking no prisoners with a massive push to the final fence as they crossed through the finish line with 0 faults. Max Kühner and EIC Coriolis Des Isles were determined to put in a great performance to help the Swans stay in contention for the win tomorrow. He did exactly that producing a clear and slotting the team into fourth place.
My vision is clear. Only the best for the best.