Playing out against the breathtaking backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, today marked the 6th round of action in the nail-biting 2021 GCL Championship. The Cannes Stars team of Sameh El Dahan and Sven Schlusselburg punched the air as they claimed pole position in GCL Round 1 Presented by Hubside Store.
The only other double clear of the day came from St Tropez Pirates squad of Dani G. Waldman and home rider Olivier Robert. While the third place was scooped up by the Prague Lions on a lightning-fast four faults from Sergio Alvarez Moya and clear from Leopold van Asten laying the foundations for an explosive conclusion in the French capital.
Spectators were delighted to be able to watch top-level show jumping with the world’s top riders and horses performing in the spectacular arena in the shadow of the world-famous Eiffel Tower.
Ecstatic Cannes Stars rider, Sven Schlusselburg said: “I am so happy right now, I cannot believe it, it feels amazing. We need to make a plan for tomorrow, but we want to win and we want to fight for it.”
Teammate Sameh El Dahan agreed “I love this show, it is beautiful here under the Eiffel Tower. The team atmosphere is great, everyone helps and is part of it making us push that little bit harder. The crowd is always behind you and I love that when you go into the ring, when the crowd is cheering for you it makes you fight a bit harder.”
First team to go, London Knights brought out team anchor Ben Maher with fairly new to this level Ginger-Blue. But there was dismay as a fence fell, dropping the team to a score of four faults straight away. Knowing a clear could help their charge up the overall rankings, team owner and rider Emily Moffitt and the striking Light Blue set off with pace but a time fault and one down meant the Knights had to settle for a total of 9 faults.
St Tropez Pirates
After a slow start to the season, the St Tropez Pirates brought out the experienced pair of Dani G. Waldman and Queensland E. The duo delivered, finishing clear and in a relatively fast time before handing the reins over to Olivier Robert on Vivaldi des Meneaux. The talented combination gave it everything they could, working hard the whole way round they crossed the finish line with a clean sheet to be the first team to produce a double clear and pile the pressure on the rest of the field.
The first rider to go for the Falcons Titouan Schumacher set the team up nicely with a perfect clear aboard Atome Z. Yuri Mansur had all the pressure on his shoulders to keep the team on a 0 score to be in with the best chance for Saturday’s showdown. But one pole fell adding a time fault for Vitiki and Yuri bringing the team total to 5 faults and sitting in 7th place overnight.
Riding the stunning grey Deville, Cascais Charms rider Ahmad Saber Hamcho had two early faults as well as an agonising time fault putting them on 9 leaving teammate Sadri with plenty to do to keep the Charms afloat. Unfortunately today there wasn’t any harmony between Sadri Fegaier and Chianti's Champion with nearly every fence catching the pair out to come home with 21 faults and bring the team total up to 30 faults.
It was a fast and furious round from Sameh El Dahan and WKD Aimez Moi as they took it all in their stride. Luck was on their side as they rolled the combination, but it stayed up and they finished clear in a super quick time easing the time pressure on Sven Schlüsselburg and the homebred Bud Spencer. Making it look easy Sven cruised the grey gelding home to keep the team on a clean sheet
Jeanne Sadran would bring out the keep stallion Unforgettable Damvil. They powered to the fences taking all the inside turns but the front rail of the rustic Eiffel Tower fence came crashing down to finish on four. It was an unexpected 8 faults from Julien Epaillard and Usual Suspect d'Auge today as they dropped their shoulder over the vertical going into the double. The flying Frenchman then sped up to try and keep the team in contention which proved costly as the GC oxer also fell and the Aces finished with 12 faults.
Madrid In Motion
Mark McAuley had the lightest of touches at the delicate GC oxer causing him and Jasco vd Bisschop to finish with an undeserved 4 faults. Back competing after an injury Eduardo Alvarez Aznar brought out superstar Legend for the first round and they didn’t disappoint, making light work of the course and producing a foot-perfect clear round with all the inside turns to help the team sit in 5th overnight.
Currently second in the overall season champions rankings the Swans were looking to redeem themselves after some unexpected performances recently. Christian Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z set the team off to a perfect start with a beautiful clear and in a fast time. But a hind leg fault at the combination and the plank for Margie Goldstein-Engle and Dicas meant the Swans had to settle for 8 faults today.
Valkenswaard United had a solid plan from the outset, bringing out Bertram Allen for the first time this season. It was a strong start for Allen on his mighty grey Harley vd Bisschop and it looked like it was going to be another clear for United until the penultimate fence fell putting them onto 4 faults. Teammate Alberto Zorzi cruised Cinsey around the course, finishing clear and keeping the team on a score of 4.
The home city team wanted to impress the local crowd and they clearly had a plan to go for a safe double clear. Watched on by team owner Jennifer Gates, the risk didn't pay off for Nayel Nassar as he had an unlucky pole which added to a costly time fault on Oaks Redwood. There was further heartache for Darragh Kenny and Vinci de Beaufour who also picked up four leaving the team on a slow 9 faults.
Jane Richard Philips opted to ride Clipper du Haut du Roy, the bay gelding responding admirably to his rider’s every request. The combination crossed through the timers with four faults on the board after a hard touch mid course. Bringing out the big guns Christian Kukuk and Checker flew around the spectacular arena at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Rattling just one fence it brought the total up to 8 faults dropping them right down the order.
The Lions set the pace from the word go as Sergio Alvarez Moya flew with ease round the 1.55m track on Kardenta van 't Meerhof. The combination were lightning fast with just 4 faults to add to the scoreboard before Leopold van Asten VDL took center stage on Groep Elegant Hero Z. Seeing that Sergio’s risk didn’t pay off, Leopold brought the pace down a touch to produce a smooth clear and help the Prague Lions claim third place going into round 2.
There was drama when Jorge Matte Capdevila and Dublin van Overis looked unsettled from the start and picked up an extreme 16 faults for the Celtics. Mohamed Talaat put in a solid round on Darshan with just an unlucky four faults bringing the team total to 20 faults and slipping them down to the bottom end of the grid.
Bart Bles brought out Comme-Laude W, the enthusiastic and talented horse springing from the bouncy footing. Bles dared the gelding to the fences, and they pulled off a remarkable clear but just half a second over the time allowed adding 1 fault. Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida took some of the wider routes to aim for a clean sheet with Carado, but a fence fell and the pair picked up a time fault as well leaving the team with 6 faults to carry over to tomorrow’s GCL Round 2.
The experienced pair of Frank Schuttert and Kinky Boy van het Gildenhof attacked the course with their usual enthusiasm. But it wasn't to be today and with two down it was an expensive 8 faults for the Vikings. Young gun James Wilson piloted the stunning L'Amour, the horse giving the fences plenty of air in their effort to clear the challenges picking up a well-deserved clear followed by a round of applause of appreciation from the watching crowd.
New York Empire
Last to go and in prime position Daniel Bluman was lightning fast on the super mare Colestina H, but one came tumbling down putting them straight onto the back foot. Star striker Shane Breen took up the mantle with Z7 Ipswich. They produced the goods, finishing clear and slotted New York Empire into fourth place going into tomorrow's showdown.
So the Cannes Stars would take pole position today and will be the final team to compete in tomorrow's showdown. The action kicks off at 15.45 local time via GCTV, with the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Paris presented by the City of Paris at 19:15.