St Tropez Pirates’ duo of Dani G. Waldman and Olivier Robert kept cool under pressure to take their first win of the season in a rollercoaster GCL of Paris Presented by Metrobus.
The high stakes GCL team series is fully in top gear and the Paris stage, literally at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, saw an intense battle right until the last team. Teams had meticulously planned their tactics, but not one squad kept a clean sheet in the second round of the competition which was full of high drama and emotion.
Valkenswaard United teammates Alberto Zorzi and Edwina Tops-Alexander clinched a crucial second place, while Cannes Stars claimed their first podium of the year in third spot with Sameh El Dahan and Agustin Covarrubias Teavanta.
Valkenswaard United’s consistency rewarded them with an extended lead in the overall 2021 GCL Championship where they are now sitting pretty on 157 points with Shanghai Swans 41 points behind on 116. Monaco Aces cling onto third place with 108 points after only picking up 11 points in Paris.
The fantastic top-level sport delighted spectators at the unique venue in the French capital on the Champs de Mars next to the world famous Eiffel Tower.
It has been a slightly rocky start to the season for St Tropez Pirates, but today a smiling Dani G Waldman explained: “This is a necessary win for us, it is wonderful to have to win to help us move up the standings so we are thrilled, it is really important to us.”
Team mate Olivier Robert spoke of his pride at winning on home soil: “It’s amazing to win here, at home in Paris. Being last to go, I had a lot of time to watch the course. Contrary to what one thinks, it's not so easy to have this seat as the doubt arises for two or three little things. At the beginning of the class, I went back to the stables to have a moment alone with Vivaldi... and then we came in and finally everything went amazingly this afternoon.”
Gregory Bodo set a technical course with plenty of options for the riders. The biggest question was the penultimate line, a full up combination set right next to the public grandstand on the long side of the arena. There were poles down all over the course and the team pressure proved too much for some as the faults quickly added up.
Hoping to redeem Cascais Charms chances, Ahmad Saber Hamcho set off with pace and power on Deville. Taking the course in their stride it wasn’t meant to be today as an early eight faults set them back even further. Bringing young gun Jodie Hall McAteer onto the team with Kimosa van het Kritrahof, the Charms needed a clear more than ever. It was an unlucky four faults for the pair taking the team total to 42 faults today.
Ellen Whitaker and Arena UK Winston had an unfortunate disappointment as the final fence fell causing them to finish on a costly 8 faults adding to the 20 faults from yesterday. It was a brilliant GCL campaign from Mohamed Talaat and Darshan to produce a flawless clear, but it was too late and the Celtics had to settle for the bottom end of the scoreboard with a total of 28.
The Monaco Aces made a complete change to their line up today. Jeanne Sadran brought out her top horse Vannan, while Billy Twomey came onto the team and opted to ride Lady Lou. First to go Jeanne and the mighty Vannan powered around the arena, flying over the fences, but the last part of the triple combination fell adding another 4 faults to their overnight score of 12. Teammate Billy Towmey has been on flying form this year and delivered the goods once again on Lady Lou keeping the Aces on 16 faults overall.
The London Knights made no changes to their horse or rider line up and team anchor Ben Maher was first to go with Ginger-Blue. They pair had an early pole as the Just World upright fell before handing the reins over to team owner Emily Moffitt on the striking Light Blue. The first part of the triple combination came tumbling down closely followed by another pole finishing the team with an unusual tally of 21 faults.
Home City team Paris Panthers had a small shake up with Nayel Nassar swapping onto Igor van de Wittemoere. Watched on by team owner Jennifer Gates in the kiss n’ cry the team tactics paid off and they pulled out all the stops producing a clear. But it all fell apart for Darragh Kenny and Vinci de Beaufour as three fences fell one after the other hitting their chances of a podium place and putting 12 on the board bringing the team total up to 21 faults.
Another team to not make any changes to their line up were the Berlin Eagles with Jane Richard Philips and Christian Kukuk on the squad once again. First to go Jane rode Clipper du Haut du Roy where they picked up 8 faults and dramatically increased the team total. Pulling it out the bag Christian Kukuk cruised Checker round for a flawless clear to keep the Eagles on 16 faults in total.
Frank Schuttert chose to bring in French horsepower with the dark bay Carolina. But the mare seemed distracted and didn’t lock onto the big wide oxer causing it to fall and they finished with a total of 8 faults. The Vikings then brought out U25 talent James Wilson again with L'Amour, the pair already an established combination and proving their worth, but there was drama as L’Amour put in a circle mid course meaning the pair finished with 11 faults bringing their score up to 27.
It was an unlucky four faults from both members of the Shanghai Swans. Not making any changes to their team Christian Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z and Margie Goldstein-Engle on Dicas both had the lightest of touches causing the Swans to finish with 16 faults down in 9th place costing them crucial ranking points.
There was a cheer from the crowd as Bart Bles and El Rocco set the standard for the Hamburg Giants by jumping a foot perfect clear before Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida and Carado had just one down knocking the Giants just off the podium to finish in a well respected fourth place on 10 faults and in 145.73 seconds.
The first combination of the day to jump a clear in both rounds was Titouan Schumacher and the super speedy Atome Z. Knowing another clear could rocket them up the GCL Championship rankings Yuri Mansur set off on a mission. The pressure took its toll and Yuri and Ibelle ASK picked up 8 faults bringing the team total up to 13 faults, but in a blistering time of 140.80s helping to secure 7th place overall.
Valkenswaard United brought out the big guns of Edwina Tops-Alexander and the consistent Fellow Castlefield. There was heartache when the lightest of touches on the combination triggered 4 faults. After a sensational clear yesterday Alberto Zorzi kept his ride of Cinsey. Their team tactics paid off as they produced the much needed clear once again keeping the team on just 8 faults and earning them a second place on the podium - and consolidating their lead in the overall Championship race.
Madrid In Motion
Mark McAuley had all the pressure on his shoulders to redeem himself after a costly fault in round one. Jasco vd Bisschop flew over the fences with ease and clocked up a stunning clear before giving the reins to Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Legend. It wasn’t their day as they brought home 8 faults but in a fast time. The team took fifth place, the fastest on 12 faults and clocked up important ranking points.
New York Empire
Denis Lynch knew a clean sheet was exactly what New York Empire needed at this stage in the season. He left all the poles up on Cristello handing the baton to teammate Shane Breen in the hope they could replicate their flawless clear. Riding his well known chestnut gelding Z7 Ipswich the pair were forward and keen to tackle the tricky course. But they just lost the consistency in the latter part bringing 8 faults home leaving Empire in 6th place with 12 faults.
Hoping to keep their momentum following their great performance yesterday, Prague Lions made a rider change and horse swap. First up was Sergio Alvarez Moya who brought forward Alamo. The experienced horse had just one down while bringing Jur Vrieling off the bench didn’t pay off as Long John Silver picked up four faults and a time penalty adding to the tally total of 13 faults and dropping to 8th place.
St Tropez Pirates
No changes for the St Tropez Pirates meant Dani G. Waldman would be first to contest the challenge with Queensland E. But there was disappointment as ‘flying feathers’ flew too fast into the combination, getting flat and causing the vertical to fall, piling the pressure on teammate Olivier Robert to produce the clear. Riding Vivaldi des Meneaux, Robert delivered, keeping a calm pace they produced the clear keeping the Pirates on just 4 faults and catapulting them to the top of the leaderboard.
Direct rivals to the Pirates, Cannes Stars opted to bring in Agustin Covarrubias with Teavanta II C Z. Despite the horse's enthusiasm and aiming for a steady clear they overthought it and got too deep twice on the course adding 8 faults to the 1 time fault putting them straight out of contention and handing the win to the Pirates. With all the pressure on their shoulders Sameh El Dahan had to go clear on Suma's Zorro to keep the team on the podium. He did it with ease to help the Stars clinch their first podium of the year.