It was a textbook double clear from Darragh Kenny riding Chic Chic and new member of the Paris Panthers Ben Maher with Faltic HB next to the glittering Atlantic ocean to claim the top spot after GCL Miami Beach Round 1.
Paris Panthers and three other teams managed to leave all the fences up in this blockbuster of an opening class for the GCL team competition, set in the spectacular oceanside Miami Beach venue. Guests, enjoyed the picture-perfect hospitality, while visitors from the beach lined the edge of the arena to catch a glimpse of show jumping superstars.
Ben Maher spoke about his new team saying: "It’s been a great start this week I have a great horse in Faltic. We have a really strong team this year with the Paris Panthers, so I’m very lucky to be a part of it. This is the start we wanted for the rest of the season. I’m not the team boss, I’m just the rider so will have to wait for rob to make his decisions to see who will ride on Saturday."
Irishman Darragh Kenny smiled: "It’s lovely to be here again in Miami it’s a super show and we had a good start to it so hopefully it keeps going."
Some teams racked up heavy scores over the technical track from Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani, with the bogey fence being the final delicate plank jumping towards the beachgoers. Surprisingly it was last year's season champions Valkenswaard United and current 2022 ranking leaders Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses who finished bottom of the order today both with a total of 16 faults.
An early draw paid off for Berlin Eagles as Ludger Beerbaum onboard Mila and Christian Kukuk with Mumbai both took extra checks in the tight arena but left all the poles up, secured a double clear and put the pressure on the remaining field.
The home team, Miami Celtics, are sitting in 10th position on twelve faults after Michael G Duffy and Clitschko clipped two poles immediately putting them on the back foot from the get-go. Teammate Michael Duffy shook his head as he crossed the finish line after a costly rail fell creating extra work for the reining GCL Miami Beach champions on Saturday.
Continuing their flying form from Doha, the consistent Hamburg Giants of Jur Vrieling on Fiumicino van de Kalevallei and Bart Bles with Kriskras DV made it look easy as they high fived to yet another double clear from the team and giving them a strong advantage for Saturday.
Fighting for the win, Darragh Kenny and Chic Chic took all the inside turns and strides out where possible to post a spectacular clear for the Paris Panthers as team owner Jennifer Gates watched on proudly. The pressure was on for Ben Maher making his debut for the Paris Panthers, but the Olympic Champions proved his worth putting in a lighting fast clear round on Faltic HB to take the lead and start in prime position on Saturday.
On track to keep their championship campaign going at full speed, Madrid In Motion fielded team anchor Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z first. Setting off at a rapid pace they had a couple of risky moments where the poles rolled in the cups but they all stayed up and he handed the baton to Eduardo Alvarez Aznar with a clean sheet. Aznar then cruised Bentley de Sury round for a steady clear and claimed second place today.
The second round takes place on Saturday at 14.00 local time, with today’s result determining the starting order. Tune in to find out how all the action unfolds live on GCTV.