Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
As the 2017 Global Champions League accelerates, two superstars of show jumping give an insight into how they are plotting a path to glory and which team will take the final podium win.
Round five of the 15-leg Championship will see the teams field their squad in Hamburg, Germany, with the list of Round 1 riders revealed today. Kicking off on Thursday 25th May at 14:15 local time, the teams will fight for pole position and a clear score before re-evaluating their players ahead of Saturday's final. Taking place at 13:20 local time, teams have the opportunity to interchange team members and / or horses following the result of Round 1, meaning tactics and strategy become all the more important in the battle for valuable ranking points.
Fresh from their triumph in Madrid - with an impressive clean scoresheet as the only team to jump two double clears - the formidable pair of Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher will be back in action for the team in Hamburg and have a laser-like focus on winning the GCL crown, and some serious prize money. In Madrid they faced down a brave challenge from Hamburg Diamonds speed ace Eric Lamaze and Fine Lady. Heavyweight team combinations from the highest levels of show jumping will now have Cannes Stars in the their sights, ensuring a turbo-charged race to the finish line in Qatar in November.
Ludger predicts the key factor for the winning team in 2017 will be the most consistent clear rounds and consistently fielding the strongest tactical combination to suit particular events.
Here is a glimpse into the strategic thinking of the Cannes Stars maestros ahead of the fifth team competition in Hamburg on Friday and Saturday.
Talking in the GCT TV studio following the win, Ludger said: "If you have such a season with 15 competitions, in the end you can always talk about time and speed but what matters is consistency and accurate rounds. In the end if you can count a number of clear rounds, the one who will win will be the team with the most clear rounds, there is no doubt about it. There might be a leg where you really have to go fast, but at the end of the day I am sure the team with the most clear rounds will be on top of the podium.
"We knew Eric (Lamaze) and Harrie (Smolders) were really, really fast on two fast horses. There was no plan to try and beat them on time, so we stuck to two clears and it really paid off."
Teammate Marco Kutscher, agreed, explaining how the new format has improved this season: "This year there is a new format and it worked out really well for us. We both brought our best horses here and we saved them for the second round of the League class and it worked out really well and we are really pleased. We are getting better and better. We know each other very well and for sure that helps."
One of the most important strategic decisions is which horse to ride. Both Ludger and Marco made it into the jump-off in the CSI5* class the day before, however elected to save their horses for Saturday's final. Talking about the plans for the future season, Ludger said: "Chiara is a good horse with a lot of experience and she is able to do clear rounds as well as being consistent. I am also planning in the next few shows to bring one or two others, for sure Casello and Marco has one or two other horses. Our young rider Guido Klatte is also a really strong couple with his horse and we plan on him taking part in the GCL. If we plan right and have the right couples competing in the next legs, we really do have a good chance to end up on the podium."
And while the energy and focus goes into their own team, Marco admits they do always keep one eye on the competition, with the calibre of sport at the highest level: "For sure you are looking at the other teams to see what they’re doing. Not so much if they are changing horses or riders, but more we try to look at having the best couples per leg in each team. That is our focus to do the best we can. The best riders are here with their good horses so it is tough."
The GCL now heads to Hamburg, where the Championship race hots up!
For the first round team riders list, please click here.