28 June 2024

Betting Big: The 2024 GCL Mid-Season Transfers

Betting Big: The 2024 GCL Mid-Season Transfers

"Rien ne va plus," shouts the croupier at the roulette table in the Casino de Monte Carlo, Monaco. Players can no longer place bets and gamblers have committed their chips to numbers or colors they hope will multiply their wagers. The little white ball spins in the opposite direction of the wheel. Does the house always win, or has a player made the lucky bet that could win big?

After June 15th, GCL teams heard a similar "rien ne va plus" as the 2024 GCL Mid-Season Transfer Window closed, marking the busiest mercato the league has ever seen. For the remaining seven stages, 16 new riders and their horses will strive to bring luck to their new teams,particularly their team owners and managers. They too could win big if their bets pay off. With €8,500,000 in prize money divided over the GCL Championship of the regular season and another €9,850,000 for the taking the three finals at the GCL Super Cup, held in Riyadh for the first time, the stakes are high. With €18,350,000 up for grabs this season, team managers and owners must carefully consider who they sign over this period.

For the teams at the bottom of the table following stage 8 in Paris, the reality has already set in that championship dreams may need to be put on hold until the 2025 season. The logical ambitions for the remainder of the season seem to be boosting their standings, aiming for a stage win, and going 'all-in' for the Super Cup. It seems the Shanghai Swans have taken this to heart. In previous seasons, the Swans habitually signed Martin Fuchs mid-championship. Now, the team in third-last position has made another significant signing. Champion-maker with London Knights and three-time LGCT Champion Ben Maher has been called in to replace Samuel Hutton, who had little impact on the team with a single run in Cannes ending with 8 penalties. Maher brings five horses to the team, capable of producing above-average results in both rounds or, in the case of the Swans, at the Quarter, Semi, and Final of the Super Cup.

Monaco Aces powered by Lion of Porches, started this season similarly to the Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames. With a new partner and a complete overhaul of the team, the six new riders on the Aces couldn't prevent the team from sitting just ahead of Shanghai Swans in 10th place in the standings. During the Mid-Season Transfers, half of the team has been swapped. Luiz Felipe Neto De Azevedo is replaced by his mother, Celine Schoonbroodt de Azevedo, who finished 2nd in the 2019 LGCT Grand Prix of Paris. Her lead horse Deese has jumped clear in 4 out of 10 1.60m classes this season, which should help the team fend off the Swans. However, Celine lacks GCL experience, as does Mariana Frauches Chaves, the new U25 rider for the Aces. Experience comes with the third new transfer, Edward Levy, who brings knowledge from his previous stints at Rome Gladiators and Valkenswaard United, along with four horses led by Catchar Mail, who recently impressed in the LGCT of Ramatuelle/St. Tropez.

Levy will be pleased to see Canadian Kyle Timm joining his former team, replacing Marco Kutscher. The German racked up two clears out of seven rounds and is now replaced by the 35-year-old Canadian, who has another connection with Levy. His second horse, Candar Mail, is bred out of a sister of the dam of Levy’s lead horse, Catchar.

The team currently ranked last in the championship, Scandinavian Vikings, have let go of Qinyu Pang, who didn't make an appearance in the colors of the Vikings this season. Jur Vrieling takes over, moving from Prague Lions. With only Jourdain VDL at his disposal, the Dutchman brings skill and craft to the team. Johan-Sebastian Gulliksen is replaced by Nicola Pohl, whose Catz de Sulpice must deliver clears for a team that only lists two clears out of 32 rounds.

With Vrieling transferring from Prague Lions to the Vikings, his position is now filled by Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson. She initially helped Istanbul Warriors secure a podium finish during their injury-rich period earlier this season with Kendrick, but will now rely on her mount Kalinka after the sale of Kendrick.

Like the Monaco Aces, Valkenswaard United have substituted their U25 rider, letting Jack Ryan go and bringing in Leonie Böckmann. The young German from the famous equestrian family rides the homebred Carter, capable of producing results in both rounds for the team that has won two GCL Championships. However, with the two-time GCL Championship winning team fighting a tough championship battle this year, it will not be an easy entry into the League for Böckmann.

This battle has intensified with championship leaders Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses, signing Julien Epaillard and his incredible string of horses. Dubai, Donatello, Cancun, and the upcoming homebred Dante will provide serious horsepower in their bid to finally win the series after finishing second two years ago, behind Riesenbeck International.

Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian made no changes, nor did the Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames. The teams sitting in 4th and 2nd place, respectively, maintain faith in their current roster, though they may have been slightly shocked by the news of Epaillard joining their rivals.

In an attempt to make Madrid in Motion less dependent on Aznar and Van der Vleuten, Manuel Fernandez Saro was signed after the team released Ioli Mytilineou, who didn't make a single appearance in the first half of the season.

Two mid-table teams stayed within their countries for reinforcements. Doha Falcons saw Rashid Al Mari depart and Bassem Mohammed return. Mohammed, a league veteran since its inception in 2016, rejoins after a two-year absence. The Istanbul Warriors powered by Carpe Diem let go of Derin Demirsoy and brought in fellow Turkish rider Hassan Senturk. Senturk has three horses for Round 1 level, with Avant Toi, formerly ridden by Ömer Karaevli in GCL classes, expected to reach Round 2 level soon.

Mike Kawai, the league's leading U25 rider from 2022, leaves the Mexico Amigos, while Italy’s Francesco Turturiello steps up to join the team. Turturiello currently has only Round 1 material in his stable but it’s a deep bench, with four horses to choose from. 

Last but not least, New York Empire powered by Lugano Diamonds made an impressive double signing. Germans David Will and Richard Vogel join, filling the void left by Georgina Bloomberg and Paris Sellon. Known for their ambition and competitiveness, both men bring four to five horses each. While the current 63-point gap to the leaders may be too large to close, these two can make a significant impact at every stage, especially at the Super Cup.

If every new signing succeeded, the game would be easy, and picking the right rider wouldn’t make a difference. But with €18,350,000 at stake, some newcomers will meet expectations, others will fail, and some might even surprise us. The common expression “the season is still long” no longer applies. It’s money time for the 14 teams and their 16 signings, starting this weekend in Stockholm.

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