It was a drama filled GCL Super Cup Semi Final as the ultimate lineup was determined for Sunday’s Final. In the knockout Semi-Final the field was cut in half during the second day of the GC Prague Playoffs.
Anticipation is mounting for Sunday's €6.5 million GCL Super Cup Final, which is set to be a sell out crowd with over 35,000 spectators this week. The emotional stakes are particularly intense, with favorites Shanghai Swans and Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses eliminated, and the hometown heroes Prague Lions powered by Czech Equestrian Team securing their place in the Final for the second year running.
Showcased in the awe-inspiring 'Walk of Champions,' the riders participating in today's Semi Final were welcomed by the thunderous cheers of the crowd, a significant indicator of the thrilling spectacle that awaited them in an evening filled with awe-inspiring sportsmanship, triumphant highs, and heartbreaking lows.
GCL Super Cup Final Qualified Teams
Madrid In Motion
St Tropez Pirates
Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian
Prague Lions powered by Czech Equestrian Team
In the Semi Final winners interview Maikel van der Vleuten smiled to GCTV: “To be standing here for us with the team is brilliant. It was a fantastic performance for us today, I think everybody could see how tricky the course was but I must say that all three of our horses looked in great shape, and it was a fantastic performance today.”
Madrid In Motion’s U25 rider Jack Whitaker smiled and added: “When you come to GC Prague Playoffs riders and horses have to be really on the ball as it’s very challenging. I’m super pleased with our team today, it means a lot to everyone and it is fantastic to see the support we have from our whole team like Alvaro Arrieta Konyay’s reaction from VIP!”
Having made the Final for every GCL Super Cup held, Valkenswaard United continued their legacy after an agonising wait to see if they would qualify. Two rails down from all their combinations of Marcus Ehning on Stargold, U25 rider Gilles Thomas with Luna van het Dennehof and the legandry John Whitaker with Equine America Unick du Francport left the team on 24 faults but crucially within the top six after the last team.
St Tropez Pirates rode the wave of the epic atmosphere in the O2 arena as Marlon Zanotelli on Grand Slam VDL, Gerrit Neiberg with Ben 431 and Simon Delestre riding Dexter Fontenis Z produced soil rounds to finish on a team total of 16 faults good enough to land them a spot in the coveted Final.
It was a nerve racking start for the home team Prague Lions powered by Czech Equestrian Team as Fernando Martinez Sommer and Cor Bakker couldn’t seem to feel the rhythm to come home on 24 faults. But the tables then turned as the Belgium ‘boys’ Niels Brynseels with Delux van T&L waved his magic wand and delivered the first clear of the day. A gut wrenching one down for Pieter Devos and Mom's Toupie de la Roque left the team on the cusp of qualification and having to wait until the final team to go for their fate to be decided.
Speaking with Rosie Tapner for GCTV after the Semi Final concluded, Niels Bruynseels spoke of today’s class: “It gave me an unbelievable feeling. Fernando was unlucky, I feel really sorry for him. After that we thought qualifying for the GCL Super Cup Final was not possible anymore. As I came into the ring, the crowd pushed me to an unbelievable performance."
He went on to give a shout-out to the ever popular Delux van T&L by saying: “I have to give thanks to my horse today, he was great. Pieter & Mom’s Toupie de la Roque also did an outstanding round, and we are glad that we can give something back on Sunday.”
It was one a world class round from Mark Mcauley and GRS Lady Amaro kicking Madrid In Motion off to an epic start. Mark spoke to GCTV after saying: “It was just one of those rounds where I hit every jump the way I wanted to. The mare was giving everything so I could ride confidently, I didn't have to worry about Sunday.”
Next to go U25 rider Jack Whitaker with Equine America Q Pavaratti N who stepped up their game with flawless round until the final two fences fel,l having to settle for 8 faults. Team anchor Maikel van der Vleuten and 2023 GCL Horse of the Year, Beauville Z N.O.P, proved once again why they won the award earlier in the week, delivering the goods with a fast clear and storming into the lead.
Eager to redeem themselves after losing the Championship a couple of weeks ago, Paris Panthers fielded one of the strongest teams on paper. Four faults each after delicate touches from Gregory Wathelet on Bond Jamesbond de Hay and Harrie Smolders with Uricas v/d Kattevennen still kept them in contention. Ben Maher and Faltic HB cruised round the 1.60m track for an impressive clear round, but couldn’t match the pace of Madrid In Motion to slip behind them on the same number of faults but 2 seconds slower in the combinated time.
Last to go, 2023 season champions, Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian, had team owner and manager Ludger Beerbaum on the edge-of-his-seat. An unlucky rail down from Eoin McMahon and Mila at the penultimate fence, and a flawless clear from Christian Kukuk on Checker 47 kept them in the game. But a shock 4 down from Philipp Weishaupt and Zinaday handed pole position to Madrid In Motion for Sunday’s final showdown!
The Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix tomorrow and Sunday's GCL Super Cup Final promise to unfold amidst packed grandstands, as today's outcomes confirm that riveting spectating experiences are assured. Show jumping enthusiasts globally can tune in live on GCTV, where they'll be treated to expert commentary, insightful analysis, cutting-edge graphics, and exclusive rider interviews seamlessly integrated into the coverage.