The formidable duo of Scott Brash and new recruit Denis Lynch for Miami Glory rocketed the team into pole position ahead of Saturday’s Global Champions League of Hamburg final, putting the team in prime position to earn valuable ranking points and continue their Championship fight.
Thousands of fans packed the grandstand and filled the grassy banks in the sunshine, delighting in top sport as the 18 teams took to the track to battle it out as the team series kicks up a gear. So far this season Valkenswaard United have ruled the overall ranking battle with 88 points, but the fight for the top has intensified as the home team Hamburg Diamonds sit just 7 points away on 81 overall. Just two points behind on 79 are the St Tropez Pirates, with the teams pulling out their heavy-weight duos for the fifth round in the 15-leg Championship.
German course designer Frank Rothenberger set a true test for the world’s best in the picture-perfect grass arena. The time allowed of 80 seconds threw in a few upsets, with riders cutting corners to save time and consequently rolling poles, while others fell just short of the limits. The penultimate fence featuring a solid-looking wall threw in a few spooks, with Maikel van der Vleuten (Madrid in Motion), rolling the pole on top and Jessica Springsteen (Shanghai Swans) having a scary moment with her grey gelding Cynar V.
The treble combination, featuring bright yellow poles with a fast six strides to the final element, and a double combination along the grandstand side which had the option of six or seven strides were the other most significant troublemakers, with many of the top combinations caught out. St Tropez Pirates duo of Simon Delestre and Julien Epaillard fell foul of both, with the team collecting an unusual 12 faults and dropping them down the order.
Five of the first team riders jumped clear, with Denis Lynch (Miami Glory), Olivier Philippaerts (Rome Gladiators), Martin Fuchs (Chantilly Pegasus), Daniel Bluman (Monaco Aces) and Andreas Kreuzer (Cascais Charms) all putting their teammates in the best possible position, with all the pressure to match their scores.
Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani of Doha Fursan Qatar picked up a costly time fault with First Devision, despite a fabulous clear round, putting the team on score of one, ahead of Bassem Hassan Mohammed (Doha Fursan Qatar) who matched him to collect another time fault. The team finished in 3rd overall, and within touching distance of the top of the timesheets.
Janne-Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann (Shanghai Swans) and Goja rode a beautiful round, with the popular German rider managing the huge striding Goja perfectly around the grassy arena to jump clear and put the team on a total of 5 faults. Another popular local rider, David Will (Cascais Charms) and Monodie was caught out by the treble combination, rolling two poles and dropping the team way down the order, despite teammate Andreas’ clear. Yuri Mansur of the Mexico Amigos also took out the first pole of the treble, with his chestnut horse Baylotte galloping around the large arena, making the rest of the course look effortless.
Jack Hardin Towell (Paris Panthers) put in a super rider with Lucifer V, clear and keeping the team on a score of 5, however their combined team time was a touch slower than the Shanghai Swans, slipping them behind the burgundy and gold team and into 6th overall. Bertram Allen and the ever-expressive Hector van d’Abdijhoeve jumped the course boldly for reigning Champions Valkenswaard United, however picked up a costly time fault adding to teammate Marcus Ehning’s earlier score of 13. Home team Hamburg Diamonds’ Harrie Smolders also jumped a spectacular clear with the huge striding Don VHP Z, but it wasn’t enough for the team who stayed put on the team score of 8, and down in 8th overall.
Cannes Stars and home hero Ludger Beerbaum set off at a gallop with Chiara over the first three fences, giving himself more time to tackle the tricky treble combination. Despite their efforts, Chiara anticipated the blue Global Champions League fence, taking the pole with her as she sailed through. Another fence down at the in-part of the double, and unusually the final oxer added to the faults, with 16 overall and dropping the team right down the order.
Just two teams jumped double clear at the first of German’s legs, looking strong for the final on Saturday. Lauren Hough of the Chantilly Pegasus and her firecracker of a mare Ohlala rocketed around the arena, with her little mare jumping her heart out for the top American rider. A double clear for the team put them in contention for pole with the team to beat at 154.62s.
Ones to watch, Scott Brash of Miami Glory and the enigmatic Hello Forever also soared clear, with the British Olympian managing the enthusiastic liver chestnut around the course to keep the team on double clear and faster than Chantilly Pegasus on 152.78s. Following teammate Denis Lynch’s effort with his relatively new chestnut mount RMF Echo, the pairing shot up to the top spot for the first time this season, putting them in prime position for the weekend to come.
The scores will now be carried through to Saturday’s final, with Miami Glory the last team to go. All eyes will now be on the combinations to see who will swap horses and / or riders between rounds, with the competition streamed live via GCL TV. Keep up to date on social media, with behind the scenes access, exclusive content and scheduling info.