Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
As the Global Champions League looks to Rome, with the 13th round of competition kicking off in just over a week’s time, we take a closer look at the home team, the Rome Gladiators, who are currently sitting 4th in the Championship. With an overall tally of 254 points in the bag, and sitting just a mere 20 points away from the third place team Monaco Aces, the Gladiators have a real chance to shake up the order as the debut season gallops to its finish.
With a stunning team win in Madrid, plus podiums in Hamburg and Chantilly, the team have steadily been collecting points at every leg of the series. Emblazoned in their striking green, white and red team kit, the team features a fascinating mix of world class riders from around the globe with serious talent through and through.
We take a closer look at the formidable Rome Gladiators ahead of their home event, and see what makes them so special as the Championship battle unfolds.
Laura Kraut (USA)
Laura began riding at age three in Atlanta, Georgia, after her mother encouraged her and her sister Mary Elizabeth to become involved with horses. The sisters still work together - Mary Elizabeth manages the horses, staff and barn in the USA while Laura trains and shows her current Grand Prix horses. Her mentor is legendary US international show jumper, coach and chef d’equipe, Katie Monahan-Prudent.
"Until about the year 2000, I was based almost solely in the United States. I made the Olympic team in 1992 as the reserve and I had to get a passport to come. I had never left the country. Barcelona was my first trip outside the United States and that was exciting." She is an ambassador for Just World International, the charitable foundation established by former equestrian rider Jessica Newman which is dedicated to humanitarian causes.
Competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics
2006 World Team Silver medallist with Miss Independent
2008 Olympic Team Gold medallist with Cedric
Competed in the 2010 World Championships
Competed in 8 FEI World Cup Finals
3rd 2013 LGCT Championship
2013 LGCT Wiesbaden Grand Prix winner with Cedric
2003 United States Olympic Committee’s Jack Kelly Fair Play Award for sportsmanship
LGCT Grand Prix of Valkenswaard Silver Medallist
2016 Global Champions League team rider for Rome Gladiators and so far has competed at GCL Miami Beach, Antwerp, Hamburg, Madrid, Cannes and Cascais.
Laura Renwick (GBR)
Laura has been involved with horses since she was a small girl. Her mother owned a riding school and she got her first pony called ‘Pippin' at age one. She was named the Horse of the Year Show’s (HOYS) Leading Showjumper of the Year in 2010.
At age 18 having been around horses her entire life (including buying her first jumping pony from her future husband at age 11), she decided to quit riding and get a 'regular job'. During her three-year sabbatical she was an air hostess for British Airways, worked in retail and also spent a year in Spain.
“I regret not following my heart and continuing as a rider when I was 18. I decided to go and find a ‘normal’ job but I wish now I had carried on and trained and ridden.” Her sporting motto is “Be patient, be confident and just keep trying.”
2013 St Gallen Nations Cup winning team member with Oz de Breve
2013 Hardelot Grand Prix winner with Oz de Breve
2012 Royan Grand Prix winner with Roller Coaster
Laura joined the LGCT series in 2012
2016 Global Champions League team rider for Rome Gladiators and so far has competed at GCL Miami Beach, Mexico City, Shanghai, Madrid, Chantilly, Monaco, Paris, Cannes, Cascais and Valkenswaard.
Marlon Zanotelli (BRA)
Marlon took up riding at age four in Fortaleza, Brazil. He was influenced by his grandfather Darcy and his father Mario, who built a riding school from scratch. His parents Mario and Maristela developed a project called Equitakids in Maceio, Brazil, to get children started in sport at an early age.
In 1994 his father Mario attempted to enter the eventing competition of the 1995 Pan American Games in Argentina. He was ultimately unsuccessful, but Zanotelli and his three brothers lived in a truck for a year while Mario competed at various events. After riding for Helio Pessoa in Guatemala and Yuri Mansur in Sao Paulo, Brazil, he went to Europe to ride under Belgian jumper Ludo Philippaerts in April 2008. "I thought I would get there and just immediately participate in contests and ride good horses but I had to earn my space, which was a very good experience.
His motto is, "things happen at the right moment for the right reason."
Competed in the 2014 World Championships
2016 Global Champions League team rider for Rome Gladiators and has so far competed at GCL Antwerp, Hamburg, Chantilly, Monaco, Paris and Valkenswaard.
Jack Hardin Towell (USA)
Jack, often known as Hardin, began riding at seven years old, and comes from a family of equestrians. His parents Jack Sr and Lisa own and operate Finally Farm in Camden, SC, United States and his sister Liza has competed in equestrian at an elite level.
Jack is currently based in Wellington, and 2016 sees him compete for the Global Champions League with team Rome Gladiators. So far he has competed at GCL Mexico City and Shanghai.
Emma Heise (USA)
16 year old Emma began riding when she was in third grade. She joined Carl and Rush Weeden to do the hunters and equitation and there began to develop her interest in show jumping. Approximately three years ago she began training with Olympic medallists Laura Kraut (USA) and Nick Skelton (GBR). Since then, she's had numerous successes on the show jumping circuit, including an U25 Nations Cup win friend Emily Moffitt.
Emma rides for team Rome Gladiators in the 2016 Global Champions League as their U25 rider. Emma has been with the team at almost every event this season, and has so far been a huge asset to the Gladiators.
To find out more about the Rome Gladiators and their home event next weekend, please click here.