Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
The formidable duo of local hero Scott Brash and Denis Lynch of Miami Glory soared to glory with a stunning win in front of packed crowds at the historic Royal Hospital Chelsea.
A sudden downpour gave way to bright sunshine and blue skies, as the final of the inaugural Global Champions League of London kicked off at the unique venue. Berlin Lions were the only team to keep a clean sheet on day one with a double clear that signalled a remarkable change of fortune for the team, which is currently second from bottom. Overnight changes from Miami Glory, which brought in Scott Brash (GBR) alongside Denis Lynch (IRE), and Valkenswaard United, with Bertram Allen (IRE) joining Alberto Zorzi (ITA), signalled their intent to fight for top spot after both finishing within touching distant of the podium on five penalties the day before.
London Knights brought out the big guns for their home event to better their eighth-place position in the League, but Olympic gold medallist Ben Maher (GBR) and World No. 1 Kent Farrington (USA) had a lot to do going into day two after racking up 13 penalties in the first round. The sell-out Grandstand crowd was fully behind them after the pre-competition parade, which saw Ben and teammate Emily Moffitt (GBR) waving and throwing autographed baseball caps to spectators to mark their homecoming.
Against the dramatic vista of Sir Christopher Wren’s architecture, the big technical course on the South Grounds was built to the maximum height of 1.60m with plenty of questions for horse and rider over the 16 jumping efforts. With the top 25 qualifying for this evening’s Grand Prix, riders had to decide whether to go for it by cutting inside fences and galloping down the related distances or play it safe and secure a clear by shortening their horses to fit in an extra stride here and there.
Spectators could not have predicted the outcome of the competition, as poles fell for those in strong positions and others bettered their rankings with foot perfect rounds. But the tactical changes turned out to be the right ones for Miami Glory and Valkenswaard United, who climbed the table with flawless double clears to finish one and two – the former pipping the latter on time by a mere three seconds.
The crowd went wild for Scott Brash and Hello Forever, as he cantered into the ring for Miami Glory. Scott rode his flashy liver chestnut with deceptive ease to chalk up a clear round in one of the fastest times of 68.17s to signal his intent to fight for top sport in the Grand Prix. Denis Lynch did not let the side down with a clear in a slower time of 73.78s to secure the win.
Scott Brash said: “Both horses jumped amazingly today, so it was a great team effort.”
Team owner Georgina Bloomberg commented: “I am really proud of the boys today and Paris yesterday. It shows the depth of the team that we can come together and support each other.”
Denis Lynch added: “The pressure was on, but it was a great round.”
A cheer went up as Kent Farrington (USA) entered the ring for the London Knights on his plucky 10-year old chestnut stallion Creedance. He whizzed around the course, but had a fence down despite the horse’s gymnastic jump to add to the team’s running total of 17 penalties leaving them in tenth place. Teammate Ben Maher delighted spectators as he not only went clear on his matching chestnut gelding Don Vito but smashed the time of 65.07s to qualify for the Grand Prix in pole position.
The British crowd rallied behind Berlin Lions as Anna Kellnerova (CZE) and Classic entered the ring. She rode a tremendous round to pick up a single time fault to keep the team in first place. As Max Kühner (AUT) entered the ring on his handsome grey stallion Chardonnay 79 for the crucial final round of the competition, everyone held their breath but the fairy-tale wasn’t to be as he had two fences down. Berlin Lions finished a respectable third and chalked up their first podium finish this season.
There was a hairy moment from Daniel Bluman (ISR), who was nearly unseated by Apardi as he ran out at the Global Champions League oxer to finish on 14 penalties. This decisively ruled out Monaco Aces from a podium finish and ended Bluman’s competition for today. Basse Mohammed and Tamira V, who jumped clear yesterday for Doha Fursan Qatar, suffered a similar fate as they landed in the middle of the London underground vertical and has another scary moment later in the course to finish on 8 penalties.
League leaders Hamburg Diamonds were also bitterly disappointed as they slid to eighth after Jos Verlooy and Caracas had two down depsite Harrie Smolders and his best horse Emerald N.O.P, who have not put a foot wrong all weekend, only picking up a time fault. Paris Panthers also slid down the leader board as Christian Alhmann and Taloubet Z picked up an uncharacteristic 8 faults proceeded by a further 8 faults by teammate Jack Towell.
But it was Miami Glory who reigned supreme, taking the glory in the stunning sunshine at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.