Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
Three of the top teams in the GCL championship race achieved double clear rounds in the first round of the high stakes Vienna leg.
Monaco Aces pulled off the fastest zero score on a time of 158.05 ahead of current ranking leaders Valkenswaard United also on zero in 158.89. In third position for the second round are Rome Gladiators on 160.44.
There was disappointment for Paris Jets, Antwerp Diamonds and Miami Glory clocking up four faults in the first round.
Eight teams are now through to Round 2 as the race to win the first-ever €7.5 million Global Champions League team competition heads into the final critical stages.
Today there were clear rounds for Monaco Aces from Leopold van Asten on Untouchable and Maikel van der Vleuten on VDL Groep Quatro. For Valkenswaard United the formidable top combination of John Whitaker on Ornellaia and Bertram Allen on Romanov kept clean score sheets giving them a fighting chance at keeping their series lead. For Rome Gladiators Laura Renwick on Bintang and Jack Towell on Emilie de Diamant also struck gold with a double clear.
Teams tried to play tactically to their strengths fielding their best combinations and team mates for the Vienna leg. There was disappointment for Miami Glory after Scott Brash’s clear on the impressive Hello M’Lord was followed by four faults for Jessica Mendoza on Constance.
There was an uncharacteristic four faults for Harrie Smolders of Antwerp Diamonds, but his new team mate Michael Whitaker, in a fascinating rivalry with brother John, put in a fast and polished clear on Valentin R. Teams strategically fielded their strongest riders in the second half of the first round as the pressure intensified.
New Paris Jets rider Kamal Bahamdan looked set for a strong round but had four faults at the treble combination. There was also an unfortunate moment for Athina Onassis who jumped a smooth round but her horse ran out at the final fence.
Eight teams go through to the second round as the team race hots up for the final leg in Qatar in November.