Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
With just a few days to go until the Global Champions League of Madrid kick starts the European segment of the 2017 Championship, the team riders for Round One can today be revealed. With rivalry and tactics fierce, the 18 teams are calling serious strategy into play for the fourth leg of the Championship.
Reigning Champions Valkenswaard United will bring star striker Marcus Ehning to Spain, with the top German rider bringing a history of success at the gorgeous Club de Campo Villa de Madrid after a Grand Prix win in 2016. Alongside him will be team anchor, top Italian rider Alberto Zorzi, who has competed at every leg of the Championship so far this season. Snapping at their heels in the overall Ranking battle are the London Knights, who bring in U25 Emily Moffitt alongside experienced Mexican rider Enrique Gonzalez, who debuted for the team in Mexico City. St Tropez Pirates will return to a proven combination, with best friends Jérôme Guéry and Simon Delestre re-uniting for this round of action, and hoping to return to form after their gut-wrenching result in Shanghai where they looked set to win the event, until it unravelled in the final round.
The huge grass arena of Club de Campo Villa de Madrid will throw in a new challenge to the teams, after the tight square Shanghai set up suited the smaller, more agile horses quick on their feet. Galloping distances and wide open spaces mean the teams had to think carefully about which horses and riders would be best suited to the fourth leg of the Championship. With the option to change horses and riders between rounds, all eyes will be on the first round of action to see how the sport plays out, with teams vying for pole position and the advantage of going last in round two.
2016 GCL Madrid winners, the Rome Gladiators will bring back Laura Kraut who was one half of the winning combination last year. This time, the top American rider will be teaming up with Lorenzo de Luca, the young Italian star making a big impression on the show jumping circuit so far. Home team, Madrid in Motion will field their U25 Spanish star, Gonzalo Anon Suarez alongside Dutch Champion Maikel van der Vleuten, with the pair combining forces for the first time on home turf and looking for a strong result in front of their local fans. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to the venue every year to witness their heroes in action, contributing to an electric atmosphere as passionate spectators enjoy top sport and world class entertainment.
Heavy-weight German riders Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher will be out in force again for the Cannes Stars, and Miami Glory will field new recruit Denis Lynch alongside team anchor Scott Brash for the first time this season. Local fans will have plenty to cheer for as Spanish rider Sergio Alvarez Moya debuts the GCL for the first time with his team, Chantilly Pegasus, teaming up with U25 American rider Lucy Davis. Another brand new combination will be Vienna Eagles’ Emanuel Andrade and Kerry Mc Cahill, with the pair both taking their first start this season. Consistent duo Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani and Bassem Hassan Mohammed will be back for Doha Fursan Qatar and Cascais Charms follow suit with their winning combination of David Will and Andreas Kreuzer.
Audrey Coulter will also make a return to the Hamburg Diamonds, teaming up with trainer Harrie Smolders, and young Dutch talent Kevin Jochems will be returning to his first CSI5* following serious injury last year, teaming up with Michael Kearins for the Moscow Bears. The Mexico Amigos will continue their strategy, with Christian Ahlmann and Henrik von Eckermann teaming up for their second consecutive event, and Daniel Deusser will unite with U25 rider Alexandra Thornton for the first time this season for the Shanghai Swans.
Fresh from their success in Shanghai, the Paris Panthers will keep Jack Hardin Towell up front for the team, this time adding new U25 star Lillie Keenan into the mix for her first event on the Championship race. The Monaco Aces will also test out new recruit Pieter Devos alongside long-term Ace Daniel Bluman, and the Berlin Lions will be looking fierce with Gerco Schroder and Ales Opatrny taking up the mantle for the team.
The first round of action will take place this Friday 19th May, with the first horse and rider entering the ring at 17:30. The teams will fight for pole position, with faults carried through to Saturday’s final which takes centre stage at 15:30 local time. All the action can be viewed via GCL TV, with expert commentary, in-depth analysis and exclusive studios.
For the full team rider list for GCL Madrid Round One, please click here.