06 April 2024

Rome Gladiators Seize Victory in Spectacular GCL Showdown on Miami's Shores

Rome Gladiators Seize Victory in Spectacular GCL Showdown on Miami's Shores

Drama. Emotion. Celebrations. All against the epic backdrop of the glistening Atlantic Ocean as GCL Miami Beach lit up the sand from start to finish. In a jaw-dropping race to the finish, Rome Gladiators powered by ClipMyHorse.TV of Laura Kraut, Lorenzo de Luca and Micheal Duffy stood on top of the podium after climbing an impressive 8 places from round 1. 

Spectators were treated not only to the highest level of competitive show jumping but also to the unique ambience that only Miami Beach can offer. With its blend of vibrant culture, luxurious lifestyle, and breathtaking natural beauty, Miami Beach provided the perfect stage for this unparalleled sporting event.

The dynamic duo from Prague Lions powered by the Czech Equestrian Team, of U25 rider Thibeau Spits and Fernando Martinez Sommer, were the only team to not make a single horse or rider change between the two back-to-back rounds. The tactic paid off as they secured second place with a team total of 10 faults after both rounds. Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses rounded off the podium as the fastest of three teams finishing on 12 faults added together, from Jessica Springsteen, Malin Bayard-Johnsson and Nicola Philippaerts. 

Talking to GCTV the Rome Gladiators Lorenzo de Luca spoke of such a unique destination to compete on the beach: “Look at this - it is just an amazing location and amazing facilities. All the team of Global Champions always work their hardest to make the best events, so we are really glad to be here.”

Teammate and local fan favourite riding on home turf, Laura Kraut smiled: “We’re both new to the Rome Gladiators this year, although we were former Gladiators, we are back for 2024! I love being at home and it’s really fun to have the crowd here watching and cheering for me.”

WATCH NOW: Rome Gladiators Winners Interview

With a smile lighting up Miami South Beach, Thibault Spits was ecstatic with his first-ever podium in the GCL. Standing next to teammate Fernando Martinez Sommer, Thibault said, “It’s unbelievable to be honest. Coming here I didn’t really know what to expect. My horse has been in good shape lately, but it’s her first time in a GCL class like this, so I just came here trying to do my best for the team to be on the podium, this is amazing. It’s unbelievable.”

After today’s rollercoaster, the overall season rankings have had a huge shake-up with stage 2 drawing to a close. Interestingly the league now has joint leaders of today’s winners Rome Gladiators and Doha’s winners Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames who are both on 44 points. Mexico Amigos drop down one place to third on 42 points while Prague Lions and Stockholm Hearts are fourth and fifth both on 40 points.

Reflecting on the team's third place, and now fifth overall in the season rankings, Nicola Phillipaerts said: “I can not thank my team more than today, they jumped fantastic. Malin jumped fantastic - she jumped an incredible round with H&M Indiana, and Jessica jumped a fantastic first round. This year we have a really strong team, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Round one saw three teams finish on a clean sheet, New York Empire powered by Lugano Diamonds, Prague Lions and last year's champions Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian. 

Less than halfway through round 2 Rome Gladiators entered the arena full of determination. Swapping Michael Duffy for Laura Kraut on Bisquetta, the local rider proved why she was a crucial signing over the winter period producing a flawless clear. Lorenzo de Luca returned on a new horse from round one to also deliver a clear round. The team then had an agonising wait to see how the rest of the field played out after staying on their total from round one of 8 faults. 

It all fell apart for reigning GCL Champions Riesenbeck International in round 2. In prime position with a clean sheet they just needed to stay consistent but history repeated itself as Philipp Schulze Topphoff and Carla NRW had a refusal at the second fence which unsettled the pair picking up multiple rails and time faults to finish on 34 faults. Even the fastest clear of the day from Christian Kukuk and Mumbai couldn’t save the team as they finished bottom of the table. 

Taking it all in his stride, U25 rider Thibeau Spits and the 9 year old Impress-K van 't Kattenheye Z had one down and two time faults after a foot perfect clear in round 1 for Prague Lions. Fernando Martinez Sommer was slightly quicker with the more experienced Lady van de Haarterhoeve after a very late pole coming out of the triple combination.

Last to go, New York Empire knew exactly what they had to do to bring it home. An unlucky rail down and costly time fault from Denis Lynch and Brooklyn Heights put the pressure on Spencer Smith to cruise around for a double clear. But it wasn’t to be as he finished with 15 faults overall and handed the win to Rome Gladiators. 

As the sun sets on this exhilarating second chapter in the 2024 GCL series, all eyes turn to the next destination on the horizon as it now sets its sights on Mexico City, promising a completely different test for riders and horses alike. Nestled within the sprawling metropolis, the upcoming event will take place in a colossal grass arena, offering a stark contrast to the sun-kissed sands of Miami Beach.

From the sun-drenched shores of Miami Beach to the sprawling urban landscape of Mexico City, the GCL continues to push the boundaries, delivering unforgettable experiences to audiences worldwide.

My vision is clear. Only the best for the best.
Jan Tops - Founder & President