It was ‘game, set and match’ today after Peder Fredricson wrote his name in history taking his first Longines Global Champions Tour title just hours after helping to secure the GCL team series crown for Valkenswaard United.
The championship battle turned out to be a superlative showdown with a script that sporting dreams are made of. Spectators filled the arena positioned in every inch of space as the equestrian world watched on as the knife-edge Championship reached its conclusion in Šamorín.
Fredricson led the overall ranking going into today’s Final Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of the season and Ben Maher had to win with Fredricson 11th place or lower for Maher to claim his 3rd consecutive title.
A beaming Peder Fredricson said: "I am very very happy, I will remember 2021. It has been a fantastic year. It is one thing to win a competition but to win this proves you have to be good over the whole season. I have some amazing horses and am very grateful to the horse owners that keep them for me."
After winning the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Slovakia that catapulted him into silver position for the 2021 season championship Henrik von Eckermann said: "Fantastic, couldn't have a better finish of the day, I am so happy. King Edward is sensational, the horse deserved it, last week I rode bad and now we got it, he deserves this win. He has everything. When I heard the LGCT was coming to Samorin I was so pleased. The facilities are brilliant here. I came here with the goal to win the golden ticket. I am sitting on a horse that can win it and everyone knows that. He deserves to be in that Final. I am really happy. I didn’t know I was so close in the Championship. I was 9th before today so to go up to second was a nice surprise. I hope the year is not over, Prague is coming in a few weeks. "
A well deserved Bronze medal place in the season championship went to Olivier Robert who explained: "Fantastic season for me and my team, it is super, to be after Peder and Henrik is just super. To superstar horses. I am so happy, it feels so special."
In a breathtaking display of top sport and entertainment, the Finals of 2021 Longines Global Champions Tour season hit Šamorín for the first time and didn’t disappoint. Set in a stunning indoor arena with the Championship race came to its climax under thrilling lights and music creating an electric atmosphere.
Henrik von Eckermann took the win today in the LGCT Grand Prix of Slovakia on King Edward ahead of Marlon Módolo Zanotelli on Like A Diamond van het Schaeck and Maurice Tebbel took third place in the tantalising jump-off saw drama down to the final fence with Don Diarado.
Fans filled every space possible arena the arena, packing into the bustling GC Lounge, grandstands and VIP to catch glimpses of their showjumping heroes. Uliano Vezzani produced a masterclass of a course, making full use of the indoor arena. It was a hefty and technical course that gave the riders plenty to think about.
The battle for the Championship was only between Ben Maher and Peder Fredricson. Ben had to go clear to be in the jump-off and have a chance at winning the LGCT Grand Prix to better his score in the season rankings. Maher entered the arena feeling confident on one of the best horses in the world right now Explosion W. With Fredricson watching on from the warm-up there was silence as he completed the first part of the course with ease. But the lightest of touches meant his chances of taking a third consecutive championship win were crushed in seconds before two more poles fell leaving him on 12 faults and right down the order. That dramatic fence falling crowned Fredricson the 2021 Title winner before he had even jumped.
Wanting to end the season on a high, Fredricson was still determined to be in the jump off on his uber-talented H&M All In. Wearing both the LGCT championship leaders armband and world number one, he flew into the double a little too forward as the crowd gasped and his chances of making the jump off crumbled. He stopped the clock with 8 faults in total meaning the crowd wouldn’t be treated to another round from the phenomenal talent tonight.
Knowing they couldn’t overtake Fredricson, Olivier Robert and Edwina Tops-Alexander were fighting it out for a podium position. But it was another two big names to fall short of a place in the jump-off as they both finished with 8 faults and were left waiting to find out their fate.
First to go in the jump-off would be Marlon Módolo Zanotell and Like A Diamond van het Schaeck, the Brazilian rider keen to add his name to those qualified for the LGCT Super Grand Prix and bragging rights of winning it from the start. The naturally agile horse-powered around the course, Marlon allowing the horse to travel across the ground and fly to the fences. They stopped the clock in 37.47 seconds throwing down a tough gauntlet for the rest to follow.
Maurice Tebbel and Don Diarado was only half a second behind at the split time but added a stride to the last putting them on well deserved double clear but in second place with one of the fastest combinations left to go.
The final rider of the competition was speed demon Henrik von Eckermann and the incredible King Edward. They put in a brave effort, taking the tightest of turns and approaching the last at a flat out gallop. The pair crossed through the timers just 0.25 seconds faster than Marlon to fly into the top spot and secure his first LGCT Grand Prix win of the year.
So it was a day of dreams for the Swedish as it would be the first-ever LGCT Championship for Peder Fredricson and a LGCT Grand Prix of Slovakia win for Henrik von Eckermann as he claimed the final ticket to the ultimate showdown in the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix at the GC Prague Playoffs in 18 - 21 November 2021.