Photo: GCL / Stefano Grasso
The penultimate round of the 2017 Global Champions League season looks set to be a cracker, with the teams pulling out all the stops to secure points as the race for the final intensifies.
Strategy and tactics are once again talk of the town, with the 18 teams carefully selecting from their roster of five to ensure the greatest number of ranking points possible. With every score counting, inter-team decisions and horse strength are top priority in the 14th leg of the Championship, with this weekend’s event one of the final chances to shake up the order.
Current leaders Hamburg Diamonds, who have an 8 point lead, will start the weekend in Rome with clear fierce intent as Harrie Smolders and Eric Lamaze come off the bench to play up front. It’s set to be a battle of the titans, as Valkenswaard United will bring out home hero and star striker Alberto Zorzi alongside maestro Marcus Ehning, hoping to add a decent amount of points to their 257 tally and take back the overall lead.
Local spectators will see heavyweight riders Marlon Zanotelli and Abdel Saïd take the reins for the Rome Gladiators in tomorrow’s first round, but all eyes will be on the green team throughout the weekend to see whether they’ll shake up their roster for Saturday’s final and put star striker Lorenzo de Luca into play. Big guns will be out in force, with many of the teams putting forward their strongest combinations to collect valuable ranking points.
Rome has been a highly acclaimed addition to the calendar, with the unique Stadio dei Marmi an exceptional setting for top show jumping. This year there will be special entertainment, including a charity football match and breathtaking equestrian displays, ensuring there will be something for all the family to enjoy. 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.
Teams to watch will be Cannes Stars who bring together Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher - the same pair who won the GCL Madrid event earlier in the season. Martin Fuchs and Lauren Hough will unite for Chantilly Pegasus, while Miami Glory will see an all-Irish team with Cian O’Connor and Denis Lynch re-unite for Round 1. Experienced duo Roger-Yves Bost and Daniel Deusser will join forces for Shanghai Swans, and Moscow Bears will field new recruit Edwina Tops-Alexander - who returns to her first GCL following the birth of her daughter - alongside U25 talent Kevin Jochems.
Last year the League final was cancelled due to severe thunderstorms, but with blue skies predicted all weekend anticipation is mounting for the first full GCL event in Italy. Madrid in Motion will keep it in the family with Eric and Maikel van der Vleuten up front for the team in Round 1. Paris Panthers will see Darragh Kenny and Lillie Keenan together for the first time, and St Tropez Pirates will have the formidable French pairing of Simon Delestre and Julien Epaillard.
The action kicks off at 15:00 local time on Friday 22nd September, with GCL TV broadcasting the event, as well as via Global Champions League's Facebook Live. For more information and a full team list for Round 1, please click here.