Hamburg Giants kick-started their 2022 GCL season campaign with a breathtaking win in Mexico City, dramatically snatching victory from the only other clean sheet St Tropez Pirates.
Brilliant double clears from the seasoned Jur Vrieling and teammate Bart Bles propelled them to the top of the podium with the Pirates in second and Cannes Stars in third place. Tension remained high right up until the last rider in the last team as team fortunes rose and fell in dramatic fashion.
A beaming Jur Vrieling said: “I didn’t want to take any risks. We just wanted to bring the trophy home and we did.”
Teammate Bart Bles praised the team: “It was a really good job today. The horses jumped fantastically, Jur did an amazing job and I am really happy. We have a strong team this year but we have to make the overall championship win. I definitely think we can be on top of the podium at the end of the year."
Hamburg Giants now lead the Championship on a total of 68 points but Berlin Eagles also sit on the same number of points just with fewer podiums forcing them into second place at the moment. Madrid In Motion round off the top three on 61 points keeping themselves in the race heading to their home event in two weeks.
Under brilliant blue skies and the extraordinary giant Mexican flag fluttering over the arena, the team contest got underway with thousands of spectators and guests creating a vibrant festival atmosphere. The course on the immaculate grass arena at Campo Marte set a serious test with connecting lines and plenty of opportunities to cut corners but a long five strides to the final wide GCL oxer proved costly for many.
Overnight there were 17 changes which is the highest number of horse and rider swaps this season. Eight teams brought new riders off the bench while 9 teams brought in fresh horsepower. With 10 teams sitting within a rail of each other it was all to play for in the huge grass arena.
First to go Istanbul Sultans rode their first double clear of the season with U25 rider Sanne Thijssen onboard Con Quidam RB and Ömer Karaevli with Cheston de la Pomme d'Or Z making the venue erupt with two world-class clear rounds keeping them on their overnight score of 16 faults.
After their sensational kick start to the season in Doha, there was disappointment for Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses after a costly two down from Nicola Philliapaerts and Katanga v/h Dingeshof. Even the clear round from Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Legend of Love couldn't keep the team inside the top ten today.
Championship Leaders Berlin Eagles stayed with Ludger Beerbaum on Mila and Christian Kukuk with Mumbai for the 6th time this season. Mila showed her class once again producing the all-important clear but the pressure got to Kukuk and they stopped the clock with one down bringing the total up to 8 faults and off the podium today.
For Madrid In Motion who currently sit third in the Championship, it was an unusual two down today from Olympic Bronze medallist Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z followed by a flawless clear from Eduardo Alvarez Aznar on Bentley de Sury. But the damage was already down leaving them in 7th place.
Pilling the pressure on the remaining teams to come St Tropez Pirates made history to come home with a 0 score in Mexico City after world class rounds from U25 rider Micheal Pender on HHS Calis and Daniel Deusser with the incredible Killer Queen. But they weren’t fast enough as Hamburg Giants came in to the arena and meant business. Setting off at a faster pace the pair of Bart Bles on Kriskras DV and Jur Vrieling with Fiumicino van de Kalevallei delivered the goods to sail ahead of the Pirates.
Overnight leaders Shanghai Swans team of Christian Ahlmann and Katrin Eckermann chose to shift to their most experienced horses to try and take it across the line but in dramatic fashion their team tactics didn’t pay off. The team who have won the leg in Mexico twice before had three fences down and had to settle for 8th place overall.
The GCL Championship now looks to Madrid, for the fourth round of electrifying competition in the 2022 season.