It was an A-list line-up for the first round of GCL Cannes as the spotlight shone on the Prague Lions duo of Pieter Devos and Brian Moggre in the first floodlit class of the season. The only team to jump double clear, the Lions took pole position, just ahead of Shanghai Swans’ Christian Ahlmann and Max Kühner who were the fastest of 5 teams on four faults.
A thrilled Devos said: “My horse Nascar is very new to this level, he is only 9 years old and I just wanted to go for a steady clear round inside the time. When Brian was clear the pressure was on but I think we both did a very good job today. I will ride Claire on Saturday and hopefully, we can do another good job for the team.”
U25 rider Brian Moggre smiled: “It was a great night for both of us, I wasn’t expecting to be the only double clear of the day. It is a great ring that we have here, the square ring is not normal for us so I think that played a role in it - but it suited both of our horses today.”
In a totally different environment to last week in Hamburg, Cannes is a unique venue with a square sloped arena. Under the night lights, Uliano Vezzani built a brilliantly technical course, as guests and VIPs walked the red carpet to witness the world’s best fight for glory in the City of Stars.
Prague Lions' dynamic duo of Pieter Devos and Brian Moggre were the only combination to produce a faultless round with MTM Vivre Le Reve and Nascar van 'T Siamshof. Jumping mid-order the pair opted for steady clear rounds rather than risking a fault after fault all over the course. An impressive performance from the U25 rider and Devos’ first 1.55m with Nascar.
St Tropez Pirates left all the fences up and would have been the only other double clear of the day but 5 time faults from Olivier Robert on Iglesias D.V. after choosing both outside turns put them right down the order today.
Overall GCL ranking leaders Berlin Eagles kept their tried and tested combination of Christian Kukuk and Eoin McMahon, with Kukuk also sticking with his star gelding, Checker, for the crucial first round. Their strategy didn’t pay off, with the grey gelding giving everything but an early fault to add to 2 time faults from McMahon left them with lots of work to do on Saturday.
Shane Breen has become an anchor for the bright green Rome Gladiators squad as he brought out his superstar Ipswich Z7. Paving the way for his teammate Fernando Martinez Sommer but they collected a pole at the first fence - putting the team on a score of 4 but in a fast time to secure third overall.
The second fence came crashing down for young gun Lily Attwood and Cor-Leon v. Vlierbeek Z denying her yet again of a clear round for the Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses. But a clear from Nicola Philippaerts and Moya v. Bisschop kept them in contention for Saturday’s Showdown.
There was disappointment for the Hamburg Giants who are currently ranked 3rd in the championship after it all fell apart for Simon Delestre and Hermes Ryan having three consecutive fences down after they lost a stirrup. A single rail from Jur Vrieling and Fiumicino van de Kalevallei brought the team total up to 16 faults leaving damage control in R2.
2019 GCL Cannes winners Madrid in Motion fielded team manager Eric, alongside his son Maikel van der Vleuten for the first time this season. A slow four faults kept them within touching distance to make it back to back wins.
The drama continued right until the very end after the Paris Panthers looked set to take over the lead after a super clear from Harrie Smolders and Monaco until Ben Maher and Faltic HB slammed on the breaks to a tall upright mid-course causing them to pick up 7 faults over all.
So it would be the Lions who shone brightest of all today, putting themselves in prime position for Saturday’s showdown. Tune in for GCL Cannes Round 2 on Saturday 4 June at 18.30 local time - live on GCTV.
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