New York Empire 'Fight to Win' After 4th Pole of GCL Season
Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
New York Empire have secured their fourth pole position of the season after Scott Brash with Hello M’Lady and Daniel Bluman with Conconcreto Sancha LS delivered the only flawless round of the day at GCL Stockholm.
With Sweden making its debut on the global circuit, New York Empire have propelled themselves to the lead after today’s result with the riders keen for redemption after their dramatic result in Cannes. Scott Brash said: "It’s a great chance, but we’re under no illusions as there’s a lot of jumping to be done. We’ll be riding hard tomorrow, fighting for the win, and will give it our best."
His teammate Daniel Bluman agreed; "We have a great group of riders and horses but it comes to luck also. The format means there's no drop score which is exciting but when you have bad luck it’s hard. But we hope to be on the podium tomorrow.”
The London Knights are breathing down the necks of New York Empire, with U25 rider and team owner Emily Moffitt on Winning Good and Ben Maher with Concona on a single time fault heading into Saturday’s showdown. Overall ranking leaders Shanghai Swans are in prime position for another podium after Peder Fredricson and Pius Schwizer took third spot today, with a combined score of four faults keeping them at the sharp end of the grid.
Fans flocked to the historic Swedish Olympic stadium, which hosted the first ever World Equestrian Games in 1990. With clear blue skies and glorious sunshine, the team took to the stage in the heart of Sweden’s capital city, bringing the GCL to the country for the first time.
Throughout the season so far there have been thrills and drama in every leg of the Championship, with the dynamic team competition bringing together never-before-seen combinations and breathtaking sporting action as every point counts in the race to the GC Prague Playoffs and GCL Super Cup.
During the coursewalk Cian O’Connor of Valkenswaard United spoke in the live GC TV production; "It’s my first time on the team today; I’m looking forward to contributing and hope I can do a good performance. [The Championship is] open which gives people a chance, and that’s what makes it interesting this year.”
Course designer Uliano Vezzani took on the challenge of the half-sphere shaped arena, with the curved circumference adding it’s own unique stamp on the global circuit. The course featured an option of strides for the riders to choose in the final line, an intimidating Volkswagen plank and a huge Longines oxer set under the impressive Stockholm Stadium entrance. A flower flanked treble caught out a few combinations before riders were faced with a narrow gappy liverpool to finish. With a time allowed of 77s, riders had to keep a careful eye on their pace as they navigated the flowing, twisting course.
Here’s how the action unfolded…
St Tropez Pirates
First rider in the ring Athina Onassis piloted top horse MHS Going Global for the debut GCL Stockholm, but the purple and white vertical came down after they chipped in an extra stride, as did the following second part of the double putting the team on 8. Two time faults to add would drop the Pirates down to 10, with U25 rider Laura Klaphake next to take up the reins with Bantou Balou. Despite the pressure they delivered to finish clear - keeping the team on 10 ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
GCL ranking leaders opted to field Swedish star Peder Fredricson and H&M Christian K for this leg of the Championship, and the maestro delivered once again - absolutely smashing the time allowed with a speedy clear. Pius Schwizer entered the arena with Courtney Cox, proudly sporting the scarlet leaders armband. They powered around the arena, but just clipped the Volkswagen plank, putting the team onto four faults, but in with a strong chance in the second round.
Michael Whitaker and Strides Hilanasterne were the next experienced duo to take to the arena first for the Falcons, the horse flying to the fences. But she became a little flat in the second part of the double combination and the fence fell, as did the back rail of the Longines challenge, putting the team on 8 faults. Jur Vrieling brought out a newer horse, the grey KM Chalcedon. They took seven strides into the first combination, and the front rail fell, dropping the team to 12.
U25 rider and team owner Emily Moffitt was first to take on the tough track with top horse Winning Good. Emily piloted the keen 10 year old bay gelding carefully, managing his exuberance to perfection and finding the perfect stride to every fence. Clearly opting for a steady clear, they took the longer route, and agonisingly finished 0.1s over the time allowed to collect just one time fault for the team. Ben Maher also followed the steady strategy with Concona, and they finished clear but close to the time margin, to keep the team on 1 fault overall.
Marlon Módolo Zanotelli was first to go for the Monaco Aces, with Koddac van het Indihof his choice of ride for the first round of GCL Stockholm. They looked in perfect harmony until they landed a little too deep into the second part of the double and it came down. Jumping into the shade, the Longines oxer also came down after Koddac van het Indihof dipped a toe, putting the team onto a score of 8 faults so far. Jerome Guery and the experienced Garfield de Tiji des Templiers delivered a spectacular round, finishing clear and fast to keep the team on their score of 8 faults.
Cian O’Connor made his debut for the team with PSG Final - the Irish rider competing with Frank Schuttert for the first time. The horse looked playful, bouncing after the Volkswagen plank and just losing his rhythm to the Longines oxer, with the front rail falling much to their disappointment. U25 rider Frank Schutter brought out Queensland E for the eighth leg of action, the bright bay gleaming in the sunlight. The tall rider was able to keep Queensland E between his hand and leg, piloting him beautifully around the course until the final part of the treble combination caught them out, putting the team onto 8 faults overall.
Karel Cox debuted a nine year old gelding Kill Bill Max for this round of action, managing the keen horse carefully around the arena. A rub at the Longines oxer put them off balance, and Karel had to work hard to get them through the treble. But it all fell apart at the final line, with the final two fences falling much to their disappointment. Abdel Saïd also brought a relatively young horse for the team combination, another nine year old Arpege du Ru. But this combination flew around the arena, finishing clear and keeping the team on a score of 8.
Watched on by team owner Jennifer Gates and team coach Rob Hoekstra, Harrie Smolders was first to compete for the Panthers, today riding the tall grey mare Une de l’Othain. Harrie tried to bring the mare to the outside of the purple and white vertical to give her more room, but it tumbled and put the team onto a score of four. They took five to the AJ yellow oxer, coming in too deep and dropping the team down to eight faults. Nayel Nassar had all the pressure on his shoulders to deliver a clear with Lucifer V, but a light fault at the Volkswagen plank cost them another four faults, putting the team onto a score of 12 overall.
Jessica Springsteen and RMF Swinny du Parc were first to compete for the Celtics team, the pair flying around the arena and taking the challenges in their stride to deliver a flawless round. Watched on by team manager Helena Stormanns, William Whitaker knew the pressure was one to follow up with RMF Charly - with a chance to go into Saturday’s showdown with a zero score. But the middle part of the treble fell as did the AJ penultimate challenge and the team dropped to a score of 8.
Madrid in Motion
After their win at the last leg in Cannes, Madrid in Motion opted to field two different riders for this round of action. With team manager (and teammate) Eric van der Vleuten flying in just to help the team, Madrid in Motion played Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Seringat up front for this first round in Stockholm. With the chestnut horse soft in his hackamore bit, they kept all the fences up, passing the baton to Mark McAuley and Valentino Tuiliere. With a curious helicopter hovering overhead, Mark and Valentino Tuiliere kept their focus, but the shadows across the Longines oxer caught them out and it tumbled, putting the team on four. The penultimate AJ oxer also fell, putting the team on a score of 8 faults - the most regular score so far today.
New York Empire
Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady were hoping for redemption today, the team extraordinarily eliminated three times this season in a series of bad luck. The British Olympic rider piloted the 13 year old bay mare carefully around the course, taking a short five strides to the final fence, but once again delivering yet another clear round for their team. Daniel Bluman and Conconcreto Sancha LS were faced with enormous pressure to bring home a clear score, but they kept cool heads, powering around the arena to keep the team on a zero score - the only one to do so at this point in the competition.
It all came undone for the Hamburg Giants after Titouan Schumacher and Eliot Brimbelles Z picked up 12 faults for the team during their round. Mathilda Karlsson and Chopin VA also picked up a fault, plus a time fault, putting the team down the bottom end of the table with a score of 17.
Marco Kutscher and Chades of Blue had the delicate GC plank down early on in the course, and another fault at the double of oxers put the team on the back foot with a score of 8. They came in a little too deep to the penultimate fence, the yellow AJ oxer and the team fell to a score of 12. Teammate Wilm Vermeir would have everything to do with DM Jacqmotte as the second rider out for the Lions. But the same penultimate fence fell, the team tumbling down to a score of 16 overall.
Home city team fielded their two Scandinavian riders for the first round of action in Sweden. First up was young Swede Evelina Tovek with the eye-catching dark horse, Dalila de la Pomme and the pair entered the arena to a rapturous applause from local fans. But it all came apart at the final line, the AJ oxer falling before they crashed into the final fence, taking out the poles and collecting eight faults. Norwegian rider Geir Gulliksen brought out top horse VDL Groep Quatro, knowing only a clear would do to keep the team in touch ahead of Saturday’s competition. And they kept cool heads, with Geir showing grit and determination to finish clear - keeping the team in with a chance tomorrow.
Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana were the first to go for the Berlin Eagles, watched on by teammate Ludger Beerbaum. They rocketed around the arena, the fiery mare enthusiastic to the fences but listening carefully to her rider. To the delight of the crowd they finished clear, with Malin beaming in appreciation as she received a huge cheer once over the final hurdle. Lorenzo de Luca selected to ride top horse Ensor de Litrange LXII, but the second part of the double came down, putting the team on a score of four overall.
U25 rider Constant van Paesschen piloted the 10 year old chestnut stallion Verdi Treize around the arena, the horse’s golden coat effervescent in the sunlight. Despite this being the first time the horse had jumped in the arena, they pulled out all the stops to produce a spectacular clear, putting the team in the strongest position possible. Teammate Rene Lopez had an early fault at the GC plank with Con Dios III, but it started to unravel after a further three fences plummeted the team down the order and onto a score of 16 overall.
For the full results, please click here.