Shanghai Swans powered to pole position in an intensely competitive GCL Mexico City R1 as riders Christian Ahlmann and Katrin Eckermann vowed to convert their strong position into a win tomorrow.
Ahlmann explained: "We had to stay clear it was the most important thing today, luckily we have the best position for tomorrow but it's only the position and it's only half time so still a lot to do. I don't think we will make any rider changes for tomorrow. We will have to do a meeting after this class. My plan is to jump Solid Gold and Katrin has also Cala Mandia which was very successful last week so we have two options for tomorrow."
A smiling Eckermann then added: "It's completely different to Miami, a big arena a lot of nice fences but my horse jumped great today so it's good they like both types of arenas."
The season-long battle is in full swing and this week the 16 GCL teams faced a huge grass arena in the stunning setting of Campo Marte in the heart of Mexico City. GCL Mexico City is the only event on the calendar that has never been won on a clean sheet and with 3 teams on a faultless score, history could be made tomorrow.
The Shanghai Swans duo of Christian Ahlmann with Mandato van de Neerheide and Katrin Eckermann with Chao Lee produced a spell-binding double clear in today’s opening round and they proved unstoppable as poles fell for their rival teams, leaving them overnight leaders ahead of tomorrow’s crucial decider.
Round 1 highlighted the immense young talent in the sport as U25 riders made light work of Peter Grant’s 1.50/1.55m track with clear rounds from Michael Pender (St Tropez Pirates), Isabella Russekoff (Cannes Stars), Gilles Thomas (Valkenswaard United), Jack Whitaker (Madrid In Motion) and Mike Kawai (London Knights).
With plenty of tactics in play and new rivalries unfolding, this unique team competition swung swiftly into action in the heart of Mexico City. Four teams sit on 0 faults overnight, Shanghai Swans, Hamburg Giants, New York Empire and St Tropez Pirates while Miami Celtics are just behind on a single time fault that Michael G Duffy picked up.
For the third consecutive stage, current ranking leaders Berlin Eagles fielded Ludger Beerbaum on Mila and Christian Kukuk with Mumbai. First to go Beerbaum came home with 4 faults on the board while Kukuk soared around the huge grass arena with a flawless clear to keep them in contention.
This weekend is a crucial event for last year’s season champions Valkenswaard United as they sit at the latter end of the leader board. It was a super clear from U25 rider Gilles Thomas but the last fence fell for Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fellow Castlefield putting them into the group of 5 teams with just 4 faults on the board.
Knowing only a clear would keep the Hamburg Giants in with a chance of picking up maximum points tomorrow, Bart Bles opted for a steadier pace to keep all the fences up on Comme-Laude W. Jur Vrieling got a standing ovation from the enthusiastic Mexican fans as he put the pedal to the metal and stopped the clock the fastest of the whole class on Fiumicino van de Kalevallei
So the all-conquering Shanghai Swans lead the way into day two. Teams carry through their penalties to tomorrow’s decider starting in reverse order of merit, the drama will be built, taking this competition right to the wire.
Will any teams substitute in some new riders or swap horses? And who can shake off the pressure in this ultimate team showdown? It’s all set to reach a thrilling climax, so tune in tomorrow via GCTV to see who will be crowned the victors of GCL Mexico City 2022.