In what was a celebration of lifestyle, color, and high-end equestrian competition, the third stage of the 2023 GCL team series was set against the backdrop of one of the most vibrant and colorful cities in the world, Mexico City.
Under the extraordinary giant Mexican flag fluttering over the arena, the team contest got underway with thousands of spectators and guests creating a vibrant festival atmosphere. The course on the immaculate grass arena at Campo Marte set a serious test for these world class combinations but it was Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland who secured top spot after faultless rounds with U25 rider Philipp Schulze Topphoff on Clemens de la Lande and Christian Kukuk with ultra consistent Mumbai.
Paris Panthers duo Jur Vrieling and Gregory Wathelet slid into second place as the fastest team on eight faults just ahead of last week’s winners in Miami, Madrid In Motion’s power pair Maikel van der Vleuten and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar.
Following the accidents of team leader Ludger Beerbaum in Doha, and Philipp Weishaupt at home, Philipp Schulze Topphoff, Riesenbeck International’s U25 rider, had some big shoes to fill. With a beaming smile, he said: “Today was for me and the shoes I have to step in are so big its unbelievable. We did really good and it was one of the first shows of the GCL for me, and yes we came in not too good last week, but our come back was not too bad I guess.”
Kukuk “What should I say, I have a great horse, but like I said today, we really have to be proud of Philipp. The job he did today was unbelievable – putting a double clear for me to go last… I knew I could even have one down and we could win. I had a very good feeling on Mumbai in the first round and I knew he gets better and better over the rounds. It is incredible how many people are awake at 2am to watch Riesenbeck International at a show in Mexico. That’s what it is about – the emotion and the other people in the team who are really behind us. We need them and it is just nice to know.”
Riesenbeck International now hold top spot in the Championship race on 70 points taking the ranking leading armbands off Madrid In Motion who now have 67 points. St Tropez Pirates take third on 63 and after today’s second place Paris Panthers pounce into fourth place in the overall champions with 58 points.
Second place on the podium couldn't come at a better time for Paris Panthers Jur Vierling “After Miami we changed the plan a little bit, it for me was not such a good show, but for Gregory it was really good. We were really here to come on the podium, and we received it, we got second, and we are really proud, and I am pleased I could do something back for him.”
With the addition of the GCL Mexico City, the city will now be known for its passion for equestrian sports. Today’s classes featured some of the most challenging courses designed by world-renowned course designer Peter Grant, making it an exciting and unpredictable competition.
With Riesenbeck International, Madrid In Motion and Paris Panthers not touching a single rail in round one to stay on 0 faults, it was all to play for in the second round of GCL Mexico City. However a shock elimination for Daniel Deusser and Bingo Ste Hermelle after they parted ways at the triple bar meant Championship favourites Shanghai Swans didn’t start in round 2.
In cheers that would’ve lifted any ceiling, home team Mexico Amigos put on a real show under the fluttering nations flag, and the watchful eye of their supportive nation. Climbing up the overall season standings to sixth place, the team was represented by crowd favorites Nicolas Pizzaro, Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida and Hans Dieter-Dreher. Ahead of the class, the team’s enthusiasm was clear as Nicolas said: “This is my first time riding for a GCL team and it is amazing, really really amazing!”
Round 1 put the Paris Panthers right where they wanted to be with a double clear from Jur Vrieling aboard Comme-Laude W, and Gregory Wathelet and Ace of Hearts. Quick and tidy rounds were what was needed in Round 2, and a single pole falling for both combinations left the question on everyone’s lips - had they done enough?
After a clean slate in Round 1 by both Eduardo Alvarez Aznar aboard D’Orient Batilly and Laura Kraut and Baloutinune, Madrid In Motion were heading into Round 2 as favorites following their win in GCL Miami Beach last week. A strategic change in riders for Round 2 saw Aznar accompanied by Maikel van der Vlueten and Beauville Z N.O.P. An unfortunate 8 faults from Aznar saw the team slide into second. .
As Riesenbeck International roared into the arena, every footfall could be heard. Under 25 young gun Philipp Schulze Topphoff and Celemens de la Lande had all the weight on their shoulders. Lack of experience certainly didn't seem to affect the cool headed combination with a stellar clear round leaving Christian Kukuk and the ever consistent Mumbai with 8 faults up their sleeves.
Speaking of Mumbai, Kukuk said: “I could really enjoy my round – the results he gives to the team are incredible I would say. So I really look forward to the next shows and think Philipp showed today we can always count on him, so that maybe takes a little bit of pressure off Ludger [Beerbaum] and Philipp [Weishaupt] that they don’t have to rush too much and they can get well soon.”
GCL Mexico City lived up to its name to be an exciting event for both equestrian fans and those who want to experience the energy and vibrancy of Mexico City. The sport today provided a one-of-a-kind event for everyone.
The GCL Championship now looks to Madrid, for the fourth round of electrifying competition in the 2023 season.