21 June 2024

Doha Falcons fly in French capital to secure thrilling GCL win

Doha Falcons fly in French capital to secure thrilling GCL win

Converting their pole position to a win Doha Falcons of Julien Anquetin, Jérôme Guery and Michael Pender stormed to victory in the GCL of Paris presented by Metrobus. 

The Paris leg of the GCL saw fierce competition and spellbinding performances, but it Doha Falcons that led from start to finish with Jérôme’s horses Careca LS Elite and Great Britain V , Julien onboard Z Ice Cube Z and big gun Pender’s HHS Calais being pulled in for round two. 

Championship leaders Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses duo of Nicola and Olivier took home second place on board Katanga v/h Dingeshof and H&M Legend of Love in round 2. But hot on their heels Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames once again stood on the podium in third with Sophie Hinners on Special Life and Katrin Eckermann delivering a double clear with Cala Mandia NRW. 

In the team’s first win since GCL Samorin in 2021, the Doha Falcons took their well earned spot at the top of the podium. Speaking with GCTV, Mikey Pender said, “There really are amazing crowds here in Paris, it was brilliant. The team has been a bit unlucky all year, but we have a good team and have been going well in general… just knocking on the door. We have a brilliant team bond, all the shows we have such brilliant riders, and I think that helps a lot - hopefully we can keep it going.”

Tactics were certainly in play heading in to round two, with Doha Falcons seen discussing the approach for round two amongst themselves, as well as enlisting the help of the team manager. With the right decision clearly made, Guery spoke of how round two was a lot bigger put potentially less technical, whereas round one posed a lot of technical questions. He said, “We saw with round one how it was a lot more delicate, particularly with the plank which is the fence I had down, other than that we went pretty well in round 1 with Julien having a clear round.”

Jumping two horses each across round one and round two, Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts secured the third consecutive podium for the Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses, ultimately furthering their championship lead ahead of the home stage in Stockholm next week. Speaking with GCTV, Nicola said, “All the horses jumped fantastic today, really we were very lucky to be on the podium, we survived another leg and we are looking forward to going into Stockholm as leaders next week.”

He went on to add: “We are only half way now, we have a lot of stages to come so it is very important that we plan carefully to get the strongest team everywhere that is possible.”


A look ahead to the ninth stage of the championship race, next week in Stockholm, Olivier shed some light on what the team have in store. He said, “Next week we take Nicola, myself and Jessica Springsteen, but we have all planned to take the best horses we have and hopefully we keep the lead next week.” 

Championship second place holders, Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames, performed at their ultra consistent best. Katrin Eckermann, no stranger to the spotlight, beamed through her interview with GCTV. She said: “Both my horses jumped amazing, I am so glad to be back with Sophie and the team - and to finish on the podium is great, especially with all the supporters around us from the Iron Dames.”


Championship Standings after Stage 8
1st Place: Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses - 162 points
2nd Place: Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames - 157 points 
3rd Place: Doha Falcons - 140 points
4th Place: Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian - 136 points


The GCL of Paris is celebrated for its team-based format, bringing together top riders from various nations to compete for glory. The event showcased fierce competition among the world’s best riders, who navigated challenging courses designed to test their agility, precision, and rapport with their equine partners. Each rider's exceptional talent was evident, resulting in adrenaline-filled moments and breathtaking rounds that captivated the spectators.

After an eventful round 1, New York Empire powered by Lugano Diamonds took another hit in the Championship with their second elimination of the season after a retirement from Scott Brash and Hello Vittoria. Round 1 proved a very technical course with no teams finishing on a clean sheet meaning every team made either a horse or rider change for the 1.60m GCL round 2. 

It wasn’t to be today for 2023 Championship winners Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland as they came home with a very unusual score of 27 faults between Harry Allen, Eoin McMahon and Philipp Schulze Topphoff. 

Current championship leaders and wearing the red armband, Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses, were doing everything in their power to go into their home event in the lead next week. With both Philippaerts brothers opting to change horses and bring out the big guns Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend Of Love made it look easy with a super fast clear. A rapid four faults from Nicola and Katanga v/h Dingeshof kept them in the hunt with 12 faults and four teams left to go. 

Picking up a single time fault in round 1 Edwina Tops-Alexander for Valkenswaad United rode a foot perfect round until the final line with the lightest of touches with Fellow Castlefield going into the GCL combination to at 4 to their score. Oliver Lazarus in his debut ride for the team this season, was aboard Conbalthago PS in round 2, with the duo also caught out by the combination alongside VIP to bring their team score up to 13 faults, and having to wait to see if it was good enough for a podium today. 

Consistency is key when it comes to the Championship race and Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames were playing a tactical game. Not choosing to chase down the times of Stockholm Hearts both riders were at a slower pace. This paid off for Katrin Eckermann and Cala Mandia NRW, but an unlucky two down for Sophie Hinners and Special Life left the team on 12 faults but in a slower time than hearts. 

Switching out anchorman, Julien Anquetin, Doha Falcons had an eight fault lead as last to go. Jérôme Guery and Careca LS Elite kept cool under pressure leaving it to Michael Pender and HHS Calais to bring it home. Taking full advantage of knowing he could have two down, Pender opted for a steadier pace. He was clear until the last and stopped the clock with one time fault to finish the team on 9 faults. 

The win went to Doha Falcons, after an exciting afternoon of top sport in Paris. The League now heads straight to Stockholm for the 9th round of action in the Championship and the first round after mid-season transfers, as the battle heats up.

Stay tuned to see how the Doha Falcons and other top teams navigate the challenges and opportunities of the second half of the season. With the battle for the championship heating up, the coming rounds promise more thrilling moments with new big names joining in the second half of the season…

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Jan Tops - Founder & President