Set in the ancient Circus Maximus today’s GCL of Rome cliffhanger saw the series lead switch up as Berlin Eagles go from two points behind Stockholm Hearts to two points ahead!
Stepping up when it counts, London Knight's pulled out all the stops in the second round of the GCL of Rome. Having finished both second and third on the podium this season already, a win in Rome for U25 Mike Kawai and rider for Samuel Hutton could not have come at a better time as the Championship standings are tighter than ever.
A beaming Mike Kawai who is trained by Jan Tops spoke of the teams feelings following today's top of the podium finish: "It's unbelievable. This feeling is actually amazing because I have always wanted to be on top of the podium in the league and to win the class it feels incredible - we finally did it! I couldn't be happier. Rome is amazing, I love this show - the atmosphere is amazing. "
Delivering a double clear when it mattered most, Samuel Hutton of the London Knights echoed Kawai's sentiment and was thrilled with his mount, Oak Grove's Laith, in only their second show together. "I am so happy, I can't explain, we really stuck together as a team. Abdel was there helping us and it was a great feeling. We are going to be fighting for a Top 4 finish that is for sure."
Berlin Eagles powered by Fundis managed to climb 8 places securing second in Rome as Ludger Beerbaum and Christian Kukuk crucially took the lead in the Championship with just two stages to go. Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses had to settle for bronze today as it came down to time and Peder Fredricson & Malin Bayard Johnsson played it a bit too safe dropping them behind the Eagles.
Top 4 teams after 13 stages:
Berlin Eagles: 262
Stockholm Hearts: 260
Shanghai Swans: 217
Prague Lions: 209
With the track set by Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani on home turf it thrilled spectators and challenged riders that shook up the standings, London Knight's Hutton commented: "When I walked it I thought it was quite a difficult course, and everyone was jumping it really well early on but I think it was the pressure of the teams that got to everyone."
Fighting for the Championship lead, Berlin Eagles powered by Fundis, put together a strong performance this weekend with riders Ludger Beerbaum and Christian Kukuk producing a double clear in round two to keep them on their overnight score of 8 faults. Mila and Mumbai, the impressive mounts of Beerbaum and Kukuk showed that they meant business in the final sprint to the championship Final and enough to see them finish in second place today crucially just ahead of the Stockholm Hearts.
Istanbul Sultans looked on track to have a record finish still on just 8 faults until their final rider but 20 faults from Efe Siyahi and Cantate cost them crucial championship points. The drama continued when the Hamburg Giants were left deflated after a stop at the final fence from Kevin Jochems and Kriskras DV dropping them to the bottom of the order.
It was the young team of London Knights that denied Berlin Eagles their third win in a row as Samuel Hutton and Mike Kawai cruised around the course with ease. They put the pedal to the metal taking all the inside turns and leaving all fences standing on super talents Oak Grove's Laith and Goldwin to finish with just the four faults from yesterday and pile the pressure on the remaining 5 teams to come.
With no room for error, the Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses could not afford a single rail in today's class. Bringing in the big guns, pathfinders Malin Bayard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana produced the clear, but it got too much for Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K with a surprising back rail off the large oxer positioned in front of the VIP falling meaning it was down to time. They couldn’t match the pace of the Berlin Eagles so had to settle for third which cost them the lead in the Championship race.
There was heartache for Madrid In Motion as they handed the win to the Knights before Eduardo Alvarez Aznar on Bentley de Sury had even gone into the ring after an early fence fell for Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli and Kalinka van de Nachtegaele. It was a top 5 finish though for the team in black and grey helping them stay in touch of the GCL Super Cup Semi-Final fast track top 4 positions.
With just two stages left to decide who will be the 2022 champions, it couldn’t be closer at the top - don’t miss the penultimate stage of New York from 23 - 25 September in just two weeks' time!