Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
With just over a week until the penultimate round of action in the rollercoaster 2017 Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League seasons, anticipation is soaring as all eyes turn to Rome - the next spectacular destination on the worldwide circuit.
World Number 2 Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) has had a meteoric rise up the rankings, firmly establishing his place this season as the top Italian rider in the world and is, to date, the only competitor to secure two LGCT Grand Prix wins this season - one in Shanghai and one most recently in Valkenswaard. The Italian star is currently 5th in the LGCT Championship, as well as a member of the GCL home city team - Rome Gladiators - and is raring to go for the penultimate leg of the Championship: “I can’t wait to return to Rome for the LGCT and GCL in a couple of weeks. There is always something very special about competing in front of your home crowd - there’s an extra energy - and I know everyone will be treated to top sport. To have an event like this, right in a city such as Rome, is really unique, and with free access to the public it is a fantastic opportunity to bring show jumping to new fans.”
Talking about the significance of Rome cementing its place on the world Tour, Lorenzo said: "The GCT goes to incredible places around the world - next to the ocean in Miami Beach, to Shanghai, under the Eiffel Tower in Paris to the harbour of Monaco, so it is with great pride we have an event in Italy’s capital.”
As riders compete in the magnificent Stadio dei Marmi for the third consecutive year, they are surrounded by a City steeped in ancient heritage and sporting history. It is truly a stage for the best of the best with previous winners including current LGCT Ranking leader Harrie Smolders (NED) after a sensational win with top stallion Don VHP Z in 2016, and LGCT Champion of Champions Rolf-Göran Bengtsson (SWE) with his formidable stallion Casall ASK in 2015.
Beautiful, inspirational Rome has been attracting visitors for over two millennia and continues to be one of the most exhilarating destinations in the world, with the unique Stadio dei Marmi an exceptional setting for top show jumping. Watched over by the new Olympic stadium, the event is held in the older original stadium, with 59 beautiful archaic marble statues depicting different sports lining the amphitheatre.
The stadium is one of the arenas in the Foro Italico sports area, home to the Italian Olympic Committee. Despite it’s relative newness to the LGCT and GCL Championship circuit, both years have seen spectators filling every space available to catch a glimpse of the world's show jumping heroes in action, and with the event again completely free to the public it is a unique opportunity for local fans to witness the world’s best in action on a global stage. Italian riders will be competing in front of a passionate local and international crowd as the battle for the series championship reaches a crucial stage with competitors locked in a gladiatorial battle for the honours.
Both Championships rest on a knife-edge, with the 14th leg crucial to the final result. In the LGCT Ranking Harrie Smolders (NED) is just 11 points clear of second place man Christian Ahlmann (GER), while Italian star Alberto Zorzi (ITA) is a nail-biting two points further away. The GCL title looks to be a two-horse race to the finish, with Hamburg Diamonds a knife-edge 8 points from reigning Champions Valkenswaard United. With just two events left in the thrilling 2017 season, all eyes will be on Rome from the 21st - 24th September to see who will triumph in the Eternal City.