London Knights have crowned champions of the third GCL Super Cup today after an epic afternoon of sporting drama, unprecedented pressure and history-making rounds in one of the more dramatic show jumping competitions.
Owners, riders, trainers and team managers praised the GCL Super Cup throughout the week of jaw-dropping show jumping including Ludger Beerbaum who said: “I have to say this is probably one of the most modern and fancy, up to date arenas we have definitely in Europe if not in the world. The shows and everything the way the sport is presented is very very special, it's fun to come here and I can guarantee no matter in which role I'd love to come here in the coming years."
Stepping on the GCL Super Cup podium was a goal of all the teams all year as today’s squad of U25 rider Emily Moffitt and brothers Nicola and Olivier Phillipaerts faced down phenomenal pressure to reign supreme. The young team proved just how important having a U25 rider in GCL teams is to expose them to the highest level and gain valuable experience. Knocking on the door it was the Paris Panthers who secured second place while the all-German team of Berlin Eagles took a prestigious third on the podium.
LGCT and GCL President and Founder Jan Tops praised the exceptional competition and revealed excluding plans for the global circuit next year: “I am more confident for next year we will continue our sport and I am more optimistic for next year and the years to come. We have lots of options for next year but we will definitely be back next year in Prague."
The crowd erupted as London Knights lifted the trophy and team owner and rider Emily Moffitt smiled: “I kept saying to everyone all year keep your heads up I know we are going to win in Prague. The more pressure the better for me but I owe it all to Winning Good he is spectacular. Having this atmosphere here is the best and is what it is all about."
Teammate Olivier Philippaerts when on to add: “This show is great and makes our sport - it is what motivates us riders."
What a way to claim the prestigious title of GCL Super Cup Champions of 2021 with an outstanding triple clear in the final round of the season, the London Knights showed the world they were the absolute best team in Prague this weekend.
Paris Panthers team manager Rob Hoekstra said: "I think what the London Knights did today was exceptional. I want to thank Jan for being able to do all these shows in the difficult circumstances we have had over the last couple of years."
The thrilling drama unfolded from the outside as the hot favourites Valkenswaard United and Shanghai Swans both had a surprisingly high number of faults in round 1 knocking them out of contention for the lion's share of the €3.5 million prize purse with a whopping €1.2 million for the winners.
First to go was a team that has been on the podium every year of the GCL Super Cup and they were hungry to stand back on the top spot. It wasn’t quite the start they dreamed off as all combinations finished outside the time allowed with some poles down leaving them on 19 faults.
The Paris Panthers looked on top form as manager Rob Hoekstra had guided them all season for this moment. It was a respectable 10 faults combined from Smolders, Kenny and Wathelet to put themselves into the almost perfect position for R2.
Ludger Beerbaum broke his finger after an uncomfortable landing over the plank but still managed to leave all the fences up. The team were in a solid position with 14 faults after round 1 sitting midway.
With time allowed proving almost impossible, London Knights took a different approach to incredible competition. Nicola Philippaerts with Katanga vh Dingeshof and Emily Moffitt on Winning Good sacrificed a clean sheet to not push for the time but keep all the fences up and pick up just a single time fault each. The team finished with 7 faults and put pressure on the teams to follow.
Even though Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S produced the only clear round inside the time of the class 12 faults from Ehning and another 9 from Tops-Alexander crushed the season champions Valkenswaard United’s chances of a win today before round 2 had even started.
Last to go and the hot favourites with the world's best horsepower beneath them the Shanghai Swans entered the arena with power. But there was drama when a shock miscommunication between Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana forced them off course picking up 13 faults and putting the team on the back foot as it didn’t go to plan for Khuner or Ahlmann either leaving the team on 31 faults after R1.
It was just about damage control for the Shanghai Swans at this stage in the competition. Christian Ahlmann and Dominator 2000 Z kicked off round two with a flawless clear but his teammates Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana and Max Kuhner and Elektric Blue P added another 4 faults each and solidified their place at the bottom.
Marcus Ehning and Stargold managed to redeem themselves with a clear but it was Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fellow Castlefield that picked up 12 faults in this round instead. A characteristic 4 from Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not S left the team on 37 faults and off the podium this year.
Previous GCL Super Cup winners Madrid In Motion didn’t have luck on their side as even two clear rounds in round two from Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Grand Slam VDL and Maikel van der Vleuten on Beauville Z a costly four faults from Marc McAuley and Jasco vd Bisschop ruined their streak of always being in the GCL Super Cup top three.
With every round counting, the pressure was on Christian Kukuk and Checker to come home on a clean sheet. They made the track look easy with a forward flowing pace adding nothing to the total before handing it over to Beerbaum. Riding with a broken finger Ludger Beerbaum guided Mila round for just a single rail which was mirrored by Philipp Weishaupt and Coby. Sliding them above Madrid In Motion by just one fault and securing a definite podium position.
The tension ratcheted up again as Paris Panthers went into battle with the London Knights. Harrie Smolders and pacey Monaco added 4 to the team score. Amazingly Darragh Kenny and VDL Cartello produced yet another clear round while Gregory Wathelet and Nevados S brought to the team total to 18 faults handing the Knights a fair bit of margin.
First to go for London Knights and looking for redemption after R1 Olivier Philippaerts and Le Blue Diamond v’t Ruytershof delivered an adrenaline rollercoaster of a ride but left all the fences up and inside the time. Under 25 rider Emily Moffitt showed her pure class onboard Winning Good riding one of the best rounds of her life with a rock-solid clear keeping the team on just 7 faults still from round 1. With two poles and a time fault in hand, Nicola Philippaerts and Katanga vh Dingeshof were ice-cool under pressure and punched the air in tremendous relief after securing the third and final clear for the team.
After an amazing four days of top sport at its best and spectacular entertainment featuring special effects brand new for 2021, the third edition of the GC Prague Playoffs were declared closed as preparations for the exciting 2022 season begin.