Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
The dynamic duo of Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher propelled Cannes Stars to an emphatic victory in a heavyweight GCL showdown in Madrid. Throwing down the gauntelet and highlighting the already fierce rivalry, Ludger said: "It is not over yet, but we have a good chance if we perform like we did today for the whole season."
Valkenswaard United keep a narrow hold of the overall GCL Ranking lead, with a total of 88 points after Alberto Zorzi and Marcus Ehning’s 8th place today, however the Hamburg Diamonds have leapt up the Championship ranking to second with 81 points overall following a stunning second place from power combination of Eric Lamaze and Harrie Smolders. Another strong result for the St Tropez Pirates see them just three points behind in third overall, snapping at the heels of the leaders.
The mouth-watering grass arena was bathed in bright sunshine for top class sport in the GCL Final in the Spanish capital with some of the biggest names in show jumping - 9 out of the world’s top 10 - in action in the beautiful show ground.
Speaking live in the GCL TV studio, Carles Vilarùbi, President Oxer Sport and Vice President Barcelona FC, said: “I was watching - it was amazing, it was like the Champions League with horses. I’m very proud to have this event in Madrid, and to promote this sport to the world.”
Gradient plays a big factor in the way the course is ridden at the stunning Club de Campo Villa de Madrid. Fence three, a double featuring a triple bar going in to one short stride downhill to a tall vertical, was one to watch. The rest of the course was imposing, with demanding related differences featuring big fences and light verticals. With the time allowed only 80 seconds, riders had to push throughout the galloping course, with one eye on the clock to avoid collecting a costly time fault.
The triple combination towards the end of the course was formidable, with both parts a little on the short stride. Many, such as Gerco Schroder of the Berlin Lions, had the middle part down, as the horses rushed through, looking beyond the fences and towards home.
There were impressive clears from the first riders of the Cannes Stars, Cascais Charms, Hamburg Diamonds and Rome Gladiators. Bassem Hassan Mohammed of Doha Fursan Qatar kept their team total in contention with a clear round today complimenting the clear from his team mate Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani earlier on.
Despite Lorenzo de Luca’s clear round today, the Rome Gladiators overall score took a deep dive when Laura Kraut unusually clocked up 12 faults on Zeremonie.
Cascais Charms looked to be on phenomenal form as David Will and Mic Mac du Tillard put in a seemingly effortless clear round keeping the team in the top section of the leader board, and U25 star Philip Houston jumped double clear throughout both rounds of competition.
An unusual fault from Marcus Ehning on Pret a Tout followed Alberto Zorzi’s 4 faults with the team finishing on a total of 8 penalties, however the result meant that the blue and orange team kept their place at the top of the GCL Ranking board. New Miami Glory recruit Denis Lynch moved off quickly on RMF Echo and executed a super clear keeping his team on a score of 12 and put the team in 7th overall.
It was clear from the word go that Cannes Stars meant business. Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher both went clear in Round 1, starting today on a score of zero. Kutscher again delivered a faultless round today and then watched nervously from the kiss n’ cry platform as Ludger took Chiara round the sprawling arena. The German star did not disappoint his team mate and pulled off another clear putting them in hot contention for the prize.
The pressure was firmly on the closest contenders Hamburg Diamonds. Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z had already secured a clear and it was down to Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady 5 to seize victory. Lamaze needed to be clear inside 75 seconds and the Olympic bronze medal winning combination hit the accelerator but paid the price with a fence down.
So it was the experienced Cannes Stars duo of Beerbaum and Kutscher took the honours with Hamburg Diamonds in second position and Cascais Charms in third. The GCL Championship now heads to Hamburg, where the Diamonds will be hoping to capitalise on their run of success, as the 18 teams battle it out for Round 5 of the Championship.
Alvaro Arrieta Konyay, Oxer Sport: "We are very happy to use the Global Champions League here in Madrid. Special thanks to my friend Jan who trusts our organisation, Oxer, and I am especially happy with the great job of our Spanish course designer. We had some of the best riders in the world here and I am very happy."
Jan Tops, Co-Founder Global Champions League: "Nine out of the world’s Top 10 are here and we have not only the best riders but the best horses and tremendous effort in this class. You can see in the results that the cards have been shuffled again. This was one of the most exciting since we started the League and we will see teams and riders change right to the end. It is an incredible structure."
"I was very happy to see Ludger with his old mate Marco joining together. They are a pair with tremendous experience in these two difficult classes trying to do everything."
Marco Kutscher, Cannes Stars (winning team): "We know each other already for many years. We have been riding in team competition and we know what we have to do. We both competed our best horses here and tried to save them for this class today and it worked out."
Ludger Beerbaum, Cannes Stars (winning team): "I am really happy and really looking forward to this season. I think it is all about consistency and accuracy and to be in a team with Marco, you can’t get someone more consistent and accurate. I have to make sure I don’t get too far behind! It was my second team competition and first victory. It is still a long way to go with all these events to go. It is not over yet, but we have a good chance if we perform like we did today for the whole season."
Harrie Smolders, Hamburg Diamonds (2nd place): "We think that with Fine Lady we have a very fast horse and that can bring us up in the standings. We were doubting yesterday and flipping the coin as all the horses were jumping very well. With luck we would have won today but second is really good."
Philip Houston, Cascais Charms (3rd place): "This is my second year in the GCL and I am really proud again to be part of this team. This is a great opportunity and of course this gives me confidence."
David Will, Cascais Charms (3rd place): "Mic Mac is already 17 years old and she still has an amazing spirit. She is naturally so quick and can win this type of class."