It was a moment for the history books as Berlin Eagles' dynamic duo of Ludger Beerbaum and Christian Kukuk became the first team to ever win GCL Miami Beach on a score of 0 faults. Riding Mila and Mumbai respectively the pair shot to the top with a dramatic shake up in the overall rankings as the season starts to unfold.
Set next to the effervescent Atlantic ocean, clean jumping rounds were few and far between over the technical, twisting track in the second and final GCL team competition at the Miami Beach. But it was the Berlin Eagles — a team unchanged from the first round and sitting in fourth overnight — whose two explosive performances secured them the coveted gold medal at this leg of the Championship race, banking valuable points in their bid to compete in the GC Prague Playoffs.
Christian Kukuk smiled: "It’s definitely a very very good feeling, I think we can be very happy with our performance today and today it was a very strong course I have to say. There were many faults all around and I think that makes our win even stronger today."
The uber consistent Madrid In Motion team sailed up the leaderboard and took home the silver medal after strong performances from Maikel van der Vleuten and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar with just 4 faults. While the youngest team Rome Gladiators, they picked up 8 faults in this edition but managed to hang on to the bottom step of the podium with Nina Mallevaey and Zoe Conter putting in fast rounds.
No riders in the top two finishing teams changed horses between the first and second rounds, demonstrating that sticking to proven performers was the winning tactic in this unique sea-side showdown. Going into today's round there were 4 teams on clear and 4 teams on 4 faults with Miami Beach never being won with a faultless score before. Half of the teams made changes with 6 horse changes and 5 rider changes so it was all to play for next to the glistening ocean.
Wearing the ranking armbands Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses fielded that same combination of the Philippaerts twins, Nicola and Olivier. Unfortunately, today wasn't their day finishing with an unusual 24 faults and right down the order.
Making their first appearance for the Rome Gladiators U25 pairing of Nina Mallevaey riding Chacco Kid and Zoe Conter onboard Dawa de Greenbay Z showed everyone their young talent both producing fast 4 fault rounds to land a spot on the podium in their first-ever GCL competition.
Riding the bright-eyed grey Mila, Berlin Eagles' Ludger Beerbaum produced a foot-perfect clear round once again, keeping their exceptional form this season so far. Teammate Christian Kukuk also didn't touch a pole with his Olympic ride in Mumbai meaning GCL Miami Beach would be won on a clean sheet for the first time ever.
Hamburg Giants showed just how quickly teams can be out of contention as they slipped from a chance of winning to ninth place after both Jur Vrieling had three down and Bart Bles picked up 8 faults to put them down the order.
Riding the quirky, Beauville Z, Maikel van der Vleuten for Madrid In Motion set off at speed. They got the perfect shot to every 1.55m fence and secured the team a chance to still beat Berlin Eagles with a beautiful clear round. Eduardo Alvarez Aznar just needed to keep all the fences up inside the time to rocket into the lead but Bentley de Sury was another horse to be caught out by the triple combination putting the team behind the Eagles.
Last, to go, Paris Panthers had huge pressure to keep all the poles up if they wanted the top spot on the podium. Fielding top pairing Darragh Kenny with Volnay du Boisdeville the combination started off strong-looking and determined but the back bar of the wide oxer of the Longines triple combination came crashing down handing the victory to Berlin Eagles. Ben Maher also had one down bringing the team total up to 8 faults.
The GCL now moves to Mexico City 28 April -1 May, which will also be live-streamed as the third leg of the Championship race kicks off at the stunning expansive grass arena of Campo Marte.