Celtics In Sensational Home City Win at GCL Miami Beach
Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
It was all change at the top of the leaderboard after a thrilling afternoon of action under the Florida sun at the GCL Miami Beach. Fittingly, it was the home city team, the Miami Celtics, who reigned supreme having started the day in fourth.
They produced one of only two double clears of the competition which saw capacity crowds with full grandstands, spectators packed deep along the side of the arena next to the shoreline and high profile guests including Bill and Melinda Gates, Bruce and Patti Springsteen watched from the stunning VIP Hospitality Lounge with mouth-watering views across to the Atlantic Ocean.
The unique destination for the event on iconic Miami Beach attracted holidaymakers and residents alike who witnessed the world’s champion riders and horses competing in this exceptional setting. Spectacular aerial images showed the incredible location of the showground sandwiched between the dunes and the Ocean.
There was huge anticipation for the 3rd leg of the intensely competitive GCL team series. The winning team fielded an unchanged set of horses and riders, with Shane Breen and Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker once again acting as pathfinders for the Miami Celtics. The 11-year-old gelding pulled out all the stops, leaping cleanly over Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani’s track. Ipswich did not touch a fence in either round of the GCL team competition.
It took 13 horses before a clear round appeared over the testing course, with the majority of faults occurring at the innocuous looking NetJets upright mid-way through the course.
The Miami Celtics’ second rider Michael Duffy set off at a blistering pace on the 10-year-old Quintano 35 — the equal youngest of the team horses — only steadying to make sure his horse had plenty of space to see and clear the tricky, technical combinations. His tactics paid off, and the second fault-free round saw the Miami Celtics zoom to the stop of the leaderboard, where they remained on a final score of six penalties.
“A win is a win; any way it’s great, but to do it at home — especially in front of Monica [McCourt, the team owner] — is nice,” said Michael. “It’s great to be in this position to be able to showcase yourself.”
Monica added: “I am so proud of these boys. They are spectacular under pressure. To win in Miami, which is our hometown, means so much. I will never forget this.”
The St Tropez Pirates, leaders coming in to the second and final round of the GCL team competition, could not hold on to top spot despite a clear from Pieter Devos on the talented 11-year-old Clearway mare, Claire Z. His team mate Athina Onassis (MHS Going Global) knocked out the middle element of the triple combination down the VIP long side. As the pole rattled out of its cups, victory was handed to the Miami Celtics and the St Tropez Pirates finished second, just one penalty adrift.
The Berlin Eagles filled the third step on the podium with eight faults, flying up from fifth coming into the second round thanks to two classy clears from their unchanged team riders Malin Baryard-Johnsson (H&M Indiana) and Emil Hallundbaek (Chalisco).
Only 15 out of 16 teams from Thursday started the second round after New York Empire suffered an unfortunate elimination.
On the 2019 season rankings, the Shanghai Swans still occupy top spot, having won both in Doha and Mexico City. The St Tropez pirates are breathing down their neck in second, while the Miami Celtics have flown up to sit third after their home win. But with 17 of the 19 events of the regular season before the GCL Super Cup at the GC Prague Playoffs, it's all still to play for.
Bronislav Chudbya debuted for the Doha Falcons team however had the Netjets upright and part of the triple alongside the VIP down riding the big-jumping New York. Bassem Mohammed and Gunder put their uncharacteristic 17-fault round from Thursday behind them to put in a confident and well-judged clear. Combining their scores from both rounds left the team on a total of 51.
Carlos Lopez switched horses from Thursday’s R1 to ride Ulhane De Conde today and the decision paid off as he registered a fast clear inside the time. His brother Rene Lopez brought forward the 12-year-old Diamant De Semilly mare Histoire DO. This pair were another to tip off the top rail of the NetJets vertical in the second half of the course, leaving the team’s score on 38 for the week.
Madrid In Motion
Eric van der Vleuten and Wunschkind 19 were once again the first pair out for this team. They caught the front rail of the bright turquoise oxer at the end of the course. Team mate Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, riding for the team for the first time this week, piloted the French-bred Seringat to a superbly judged clear round, leaving the team total on 26 after two rounds.
Simon Delestre was the first team rider to jump again, but today opted to change from Filou Carlo Zimequest to Uccello De Will. It proved to be a smart choice as he steered the big chestnut 11-year-old to a valuable clear. Second rider Mathilda Karlsson’s stallion Chopin VA, who is just 10, knocked down the front rail of both the Longines and turquoise oxers. Their eight faults left the team’s score for the week at 28.
Jane Richard Philips changed horses to pilot Clipper Du Haut Du Roy in this round. The exuberant jumper survived a trip on landing mid-course, which rattled his confidence and the faults then stacked up, with two fences falling and clocking up a time fault, to finish on nine. Eric Lamaze then had a tall order riding Fine Lady 5 who, at 16, was the oldest horse in the class. But they did not have their best day, with fences falling all round the course for a total of 16. The team tumbled down the order with their score of 42.
This team opted to field the same horses and rider combinations in the same order as in the first round. So Harrie Smolders and the talented, tall stallion Don VHP Z NOP were the pathfinders, putting in a smooth clear round over the tricky course. Team mate Gregory Wathelet had a miscommunication with Qualido 3 over the triple bar resulting in two early rails down, but they regained their composure to jump the remainder of the course clear and finish on eight faults and give the team a total of 24.
This team kept their riders unchanged, but reversed the order. Jos Verlooy and the 14-year-old stallion Caracas rolled the top bar off the NetJets vertical but left the remainder of the course intact for four faults. Jerome Guery followed on Celvin, who also toppled the NetJets vertical and two further fences, making their total 12 and the team on 30 faults.
Nicola Philippaerts and H&M Chilli Willi were first to jump for the London Knights, just catching the back rail of LGCT oxer. Nicola’s twin brother Olivier Philippaerts piloted the 10-year-old bay stallion, H&M Extra, and survived a rub at the NetJets vertical. But the back rail of the triple combination tumbled but the rest stayed up, giving him four faults and the team 21, which provisionally put them at the top of the leaderboard.
The team opted to come forward unchanged for this round. Alberto Zorzi and Danique were yet another to suffer a knock-down at the NetJets vertical, but the centre effort of the triple also fell as well as two further fences when the 11-year-old mare became too keen. Bertram Allen and the super speedy Molly Malone V kept up the pace, but also brushed off the top rail of the NetJets vertical and punched out the back rail of the Longines oxer. They finished on eight, giving a team total of 36 over the two rounds. Until this year Valkenswaard United had never been off the podium in Miami Beach.
There were no changes for this team from round one, so Christian Ahlmann and the stallion Take A Chance On Me Z were first to go. The back rail of the triple combination, half in shadow at this point, clattered to the ground but the rest of the fences stayed up for a score of four. Evelina Tovek then rode the 10-year-old mare Dalila De La Pomme — the equal youngest team horse — clipped a rail of the turquoise oxer leaving them on four and the team on 18, and into a mid-way lead.
Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana were first out again in an unchanged team for the Berlin Eagles. Malin kept the 11-year-old’s exuberance in check and raced round for a superb, energetic clear. Emil Hallundbaek followed on the 12-year-old Chacco-Blue gelding, Chalisco. Emil gave the horse plenty of vocal guidance as he twisted and stretched over the fences beautifully, resulting in the first double clear of the day. The team stay on eight faults and go into a provisional lead. They eventually finished third.
The home team opted to run the same horses and riders as the first round, with Shane Breen and Ipswich Van De Wolfsakker first out. He got close to the triple bar, but Ipswich put in a huge leap to leave it up. The 11-year-old gelding pulled off a superb clear round. Michael Duffy upped the pace from the first round to avoid a time fault on the 10-year-old Quintano 35, then rode a majestic round to keep all the fences up for a fault-free round. The teams score of six put them firmly atop the leaderboard — where they stayed.
Daniel Deusser and Calisto Blue were the pathfinders for the overall ranking leaders Shanghai Swans — winners at both Doha and Mexico City. He pressed on and Calisto Blue responded enthusiastically but a risky inside turn saw the third last fence fall for four faults. Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K did all they could to keep their team on the podium, and pulled off a masterful clear for the team to finish on nine, which put them into third with two teams left to jump.
The team who won here last year kept the same combinations as Thursday’s round one, but revered the starting order, sending Anna Kellnerova and Catch Me If You Can OLD out first. She lowered an early rail of the double by the shore and a further oxer pole fell, giving them a score of eight and dropping the team off the podium. Niels Bruynseels and the 13-year-old mare Gancia De Muze put in a huge leap over the triple bar and took inside lines to book a commanding clear. The team finished on 13 faults and into fourth with one team left to jump.
St Tropez Pirates
Athina Onassis and MHS Going Global had the pressure to keep the fences up on their shoulders, coming into the second round with just three faults. When the middle of the triple by the VIP fell, victory was handed to the Miami Celtics. They finish on four faults. Pieter Devos changed horses, today partnering Claire Z. The 11-year-old Clearway mare responded beautifully, logging a fabulous clear and putting the St Tropez Pirates onto the second step of the podium.