Shanghai Swans’ top guns Deusser, Fredricson and Schwizer Take GCL Super Cup Final Win

Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso

In a story full to the brim with glory, hope and heartache, the Shanghai Swans team wrote their names into the history books - soaring to the GCL Super Cup win in a dramatic €6.4 million Final.

 

Daniel Deusser with Jasmien vd Bisschop, Peder Fredricson with H&M Christian K and Pius Schwizer with Cortney Cox delivered an epic two rounds of action amid pressure-cooker tension in Prague’s packed O2 arena.

 

The conclusion to the 2nd edition of the GC Prague Playoffs saw a spell-binding showdown of the world’s best show jumpers. The calibre of competition was at an extraordinary level and the intensity of the battle provoked shock results thrilling fans watching in the arena and around the world.

 

Daniel Deusser of the Swans spoke of what the prestigious victory meant to the team and how they had been planning throughout 2019 to take the prestigious trophy: “It was a goal of the season - it’s as simple as that. The whole year you’re planning to qualify for this event and every day there is pressure. The crowd, the whole arena, everything together here is fantastic organisation.”

 

Teammate Peder Fredricson said: “I didn’t believe it. The pressure was on. It was really exciting competition. Three riders in each team with no drop score, so much could happen. The best horses are here with the best riders, and it was two big courses. It was hard work but we’re finally in the spot we wanted.”

 

Pius Schwizer said: “We have a good team - Peder and Daniel are two of the best riders so it’s a great result.” The team paid tribute to their team mates Shane Sweetnam, Alexandra Thornton and Kim Emmen.

 

Monaco Aces took second place and last year’s winners Madrid in Motion made a phenomenal comeback to finish third tonight. But there was heartbreak for Paris Panthers, who were in pole position, and Cannes Stars - both teams missing out on a coveted podium spot in a tough Second Round.

 

Shanghai Swans lifted the trophy as pyrotechnics sparkled and flared behind them, an emotional moment for the season-long strong team. In a special ceremony, the horses and grooms from the top three teams were also awarded medals, recognising the true heroes of the sport.

 

As the top teams set off on their lap of honour aboard their superstar horses, spectators rose to their feet in heartfelt admiration for the stars of the GCL Super Cup Final.


FIRST ROUND

Uliano Vezzani produced a gutsy course, with huge 1.55/1.60m fences coming up thick and fast - horses and riders needing to be absolutely on their game from the first stride. There were plenty of related distances, requiring riders to know their horses inside out, and be absolutely precise in their plan with a time allowed of 71s.

 

Cannes Stars
Jane Richard Philips - Clipper du Haut du Roy
Maurice Tebbel (U25) - Don Diarado
Abdel Saïd - Jumpy van de Hermitage

 

Trail-blazer Jane Richard Philips was first to take on the track with her 11 year-old bay gelding Clipper du Haut du Roy. They attacked the course with gusto to finish clear, Richard Philips punching the air in delight as the crowd roared in appreciation. U25 rider Maurice Tebbel hadn’t touched a pole all weekend, and returned with his 10 year-old stallion Don Diarado - they kept their 100% faultless performance, a remarkable achievement for the young German under this intense pressure. Final rider for the Stars Abdel Saïd had an enormous weight on his shoulders, but the Egyptian kept Jumpy van de Hermitage cool and quiet. They pulled out all the stops, finishing clear but picking up 1 time fault - a phenomenally strong start for the team. After his round Maurice Tebbel said: "It was crazy. Today we’re giving everything. Our team has been unbelievable this week - we’re fighting for it!”

 

Monaco Aces
Laura Kraut - Confu
Jos Verlooy (U25) - Igor
Julien Epaillard - Queeletta

 

First in for the Monaco Aces was Laura Kraut, piloting her 12 year-old grey gelding Confu. But the second part of the black and white double fell, and they collected 1 time fault to put the team on a score of 5 faults. U25 rider Jos Verlooy made a strategic horse change to his chestnut gelding Igor, with teammate Marlon Modolo Zanotelli watching on. They had a moment coming to the black and white double after Igor dropped off the bridle but they pulled it back, finishing clear and keeping the team on their score. Final rider to go for the Aces Julien Epaillard brought out the 11 year-old Queeletta, but the first part of the tricky black and white double fell, as did the middle element of the triple combination to drop the team to a score of 13.

 

Shanghai Swans
Peder Fredricson - H&M Christian K
Pius Schwizer - Cortney Cox
Daniel Deusser - Jasmien vd Bisschop

 

Peder Fredricson brought out H&M Christian K for the Shanghai Swans, but they too came up short at the second element of the black and white double. The 12 year-old gelding flew around the track, with a big effort at the last to keep the Swans on 4. Next in Pius Schwizer came on for the team, swapping in for Shane Sweetnam who was watching from the kiss n’ cry. He piloted his 10 year-old Cortney Cox - the gelding turning himself inside out to clear the fences bringing home a clear. Team anchor Daniel Deusser was next to go with top mare Jasmien vd Bisschop and they were foot-perfect to keep the Swans on 4. Shane Sweetnam said: “So far so good, hopefully we can move up in the second round. There’s a lot of pressure."

 

Valkenswaard United
Marcus Ehning - Comme Il Faut
Frank Schuttert - Queensland E
Cian O’Connor - PSG Final

 

First in for Valkenswaard United was German maestro Marcus Ehning, piloting his small but feisty stallion Comme Il Faut. They set off at their trademark tempo, powering through the first part of the track with ease. But there was disappointment after they just clipped the Longines plank putting the team on 4 faults. Frank Schuttert saddled up Queensland E, a relatively inexperienced horse for this level of competition. They performed admirably, just rolling the pole in the middle element of the triple combination to drop United to 8 faults. Cian O’Connor brought back PSG Final, the 9 year-old horse impressive in his jumping style. But they too would just fall short at the triple combination, the final element falling to put the team on a total of 12 faults.

 

Madrid in Motion
Mark McAuley - Vivaldi du Theil
Maikel van der Vleuten - Dana Blue
Eduardo Alvarez Aznar - Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot

 

Last year’s GCL Super Cup winners Madrid in Motion made a rider change for the Final, Mark McAuley coming off the bench with Vivaldi du Theil. They came in slightly too deep to the black and white double, the front bar of the oxer falling to put the team on 4 faults. There was further heartache as the final oxer fell, putting the team on 8. Maikel van der Vleuten was next in, riding top mare Dana Blue. But that troublesome black and white double also caught them out, the front bar falling again for the team and putting them on 12 with one rider left to go. Eduardo Alvarez Aznar brought out the ever-consistent Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot, with teammate and manager Eric van der Vleuten watching on. But even they came undone at the triple, the middle element falling to drop the team to last on 16 faults. Team rider Michael G Duffy said: “It’s a two round competition, and anything can happen as we saw last year.”

 

Paris Panthers
Darragh Kenny - Romeo 88
Nayel Nassar - Lucifer V
Gregory Wathelet - MJT Nevados S

 

In pole position, Paris Panthers sent in Darragh Kenny aboard Romeo 88 to set the pace for the team. With teammate and owner Jennifer Gates watching on alongside Harrie Smolders, Kenny set Romeo 88 up beautifully to each of the fences. They produced the goods, a clear for the team with Nayel Nassar and Lucifer V next to go. They flew around the course, but they were too far off the final oxer,  Lucifer V just kicking out as the fence came down to collect 4 faults. Final rider Gregory Wathelet knew he and MJT Nevados S needed a clear to keep in the running - the Belgian rider the epitome of grace under serious pressure. They finished clear, the Panthers would finish Round 1 on 4 faults. Team Owner Jenn Gates said: “These riders have been great all year so it’s a pleasure to be here, but I want them to do well as they have been working hard and so deserve it. I’m so proud, Rob [Hoeskstra]’s done an amazing job with this group of riders, so who knows what will happen in the next round.”


SECOND ROUND

 

Uliano Vezzani’s second round was another substantial world class challenge, with fences at full height and width. This course saw the return of the troublesome Prague Flag plank, the unusual design catching our many riders in the Quarter and Semi Final. The final fence, a delicate GCL vertical, was set near the in-gate - the plain red poles easily toppled as riders rushed to make the time allowed of 69 seconds.

 

Madrid In Motion
Mark McAuley - Vivaldi du Theil
Maikel van der Vleuten - Dana Blue
Eduardo Alvarez Aznar - Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot

 

With 16 faults already on their scoreboard, last year’s GCL Super Cup winners Madrid in Motion had everything to do. First in Mark McAuley entered the arena with Vivaldi du Theil but the back bar of the Astronomical Clock fell, as did the final GCL vertical - putting the team on 24. Maikel van der Vleuten and Dana Blue survived some lucky rubs, the pair finishing clear and passing the baton to Eduardo Alvarez Aznar with Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot. They put in a valiant attempt to deliver a clear, but the total result of 24 meant the team would not take the trophy home the GCL Super Cup again this year.

 

Monaco Aces
Laura Kraut - Confu
Jos Verlooy (U25) - Igor
Julien Epaillard - Queeletta

 

With a team total of 13 the Monaco Aces returned to the ring - Laura Kraut first to go again aboard Confu. The grey gelding jumped his heart out for the American, the pair producing the much-needed clear, Kraut punching her first in delight. U25 rider Jos Verlooy and Igor had the final element of the triple down, with Verlooy working hard to keep the keen horse straight - the team would move to a total of 17 faults. Final rider to go Julian Epaillard came back with Queeletta, the dark bay mare jumping the first part of the course perfectly. But they had the second oxer in the painted pink double down, the team finishing their campaign on 21 overall.

 

Valkenswaard United
Marcus Ehning - Comme Il Faut
Frank Schuttert - Queensland E
Cian O’Connor - PSG Final

 

Marcus Ehning returned aboard Comme Il Faut, Valkenswaard United on their score of 12 so far. Ehning dared the horse on a tight turn to the triple combination, the stallion tucking his knees up tightly to lear the challenge. But their hopes were crushed as both parts of the pink double fell, the team dropping to a score of 20 faults. Next in Frank Schuttert and Queensland E had drama after the 10 year-old gelding refused at the CarTech BMW vertical, and another pole at the final element in the triple combination would plummet the team to a score of 30 with Cian O’Connor and PSG Final still to jump. They pulled off a sensational clear, but United would not make the podium.

 

Shanghai Swans
Peder Fredricson - H&M Christian K
Pius Schwizer - Cortney Cox
Daniel Deusser - Jasmien vd Bisschop

 

First in for the Swans Peder Fredricson rode H&M Christian K pulled out all the stops for the team, producing a foot-perfect clear for the team to keep them on a tally of 4 faults. Next in Pius Schwizer and Cortney Cox had an early fence - the CarTech BMW vertical falling. The second part of the painted pink double also tumbled, the Swans’ score ticking up to 12. Final rider to go Daniel Deusser and Jasmien vd Bisschop knew only a clear could keep them in with a chance. The mare put in a immense leap to clear the penultimate oxer, finishing clear and putting the Swans in a podium position. Speaking after the round Peder said “The horses jumped great. It was two great courses today, it was difficult but ridable - there are good  horses here so it has to be [challenging].”

 

Paris Panthers
Darragh Kenny - Romeo 88
Nayel Nassar - Lucifer V
Gregory Wathelet - MJT Nevados S

 

The Panthers started on a score of 4 but Darragh Kenny and Romeo 88 had the Czech Equestrian Team oxer down - the first pole Kenny has knocked all week. Another pole at the GCL oxer would drop the Paris Panthers to 12, on a level pegging with the Shanghai Swans with two riders left to go. Nayel Nassar and Lucifer V couldn’t afford an error, but the blue oxer fell, putting the team on a score of 16, victory escaping their clutches. Another pole down at the oxer, the painted  pink plank and the final fence cost them dearly - the Panthers would fall off the podium on a total of 28. Final rider to go Gregory Wathelet and MJT Nevados S kept their cool to come home clear, but it would be a gut-wrenching result for the team who had looked on such phenomenal form all week.

 

Cannes Stars
Jane Richard Philips - Clipper du Haut du Roy
Maurice Tebbel (U25) - Don Diarado
Abdel Saïd - Jumpy van de Hermitage

 

All the pressure was on the Cannes Stars to see if they could keep the lead and take the 2019 win. First to go was Jane Richard Philips and Clipper du Haut du Roy, carrying forward their Round 1 score of 1. The duo survived a lucky rub at the triple but came too deep into the Longines oxer. Another pole at the painted pink oxer would drop them to 9 - meaning both Tebbel and Saïd could not knock a single pole to keep their dreams of a win alive. U25 Maurice Tebbel and Don Diarado produced another breath-taking round, looking on song, but there was heartache as the GC Prague Playoffs oxer fell, and a time fault put the team on 14 - handing the win to the Swans. Final rider to go Abdel Saïd and Jumpy van de Hermitage had so much pressure on their shoulders, but a further 12 faults would see the team off the podium with a total score of 26 - a disappointing end to the Stars’ campaign.

 

So it would conclude a phenomenal week of top sport and entertainment - a blockbuster showcase of the world’s top show jumping athletes and the perfect end of the 2019 season of the Longines Global Champions Tour and GCL team series.