Fuchs Phenomenal in Opening CSI5* LGCT Rome
Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs (SUI) threw down the gauntlet to the rest of the field with a stunning win on his 10 year old bay gelding Cristo to raise the LGCT Rome curtain. With the best of the best in action this weekend, the young star beat Peder Fredricson (SWE) with H&M Carat Desire who took second, and John Whitaker (GBR) with Argento who finished this morning’s class in 3rd.
Set in the picturesque Stadio dei Marmi, Uliano Vezzani’s course was a colourful display of Roman icons which asked plenty of questions to the world’s best riders, including a formidable looking wall featuring Romulus and Remus requiring plenty of trust between horse and rider.
First to set the pace was Israel’s Danielle Goldstein (ISR) with LizzieMary, stopping the clock in 28.47s, with the rest of the international field still to come. The imposing Romulus and Remus fence caught out a few, including Pilar Lucrecia Cordon (ESP) with Trix Trax after the 9 year old bay gelding took serious exception to the wolf shaped wall.
The temperature soon increased as the well-established partnership of John Whitaker (GBR) and 15 year old stallion Argento took to the arena. The much loved British rider put his foot down in the speed phase of the class, rocketing around the final five jumps to stop the clock in 26.92s, over a second faster than Goldstein.
Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) entered to cheers from the spectators, but a costly back rail at the Longines oxer with Halifax van het Kluizebos meant they wouldn’t be in contention for a podium in the opening class. Clears came from all across the field, with Simon Delestre (FRA), Janika Sprunger (SUI), Giulia Martinengo Marquet (ITA), Lauren Hough (USA), Roger-Yves Bost (FRA), Geir Gulliksen (NOR), Eric Lamaze (CAN),
Whitaker’s time looked hard to beat, until young Swiss star Martin Fuchs (SUI) flew around the second phase with Cristo to notch up a new leading time of 26.25, just tenths of a second ahead of the British legend. Peder Fredricson (SWE) put in a valiant attempt with H&M Carat Desire, but finished just shy in 26.33s.
For full results, please click here.
High Drama at GCL Rome As Valkenswaard United Keep Championship Dream Alive
A high drama first round of the Global Champions League of Rome has thrown the Championship title wide open, after Valkenswaard United secured pole position with the only team double clear of the day.
All season long, the battle between Hamburg Diamonds and Valkenswaard United has taken extraordinary twists, with today’s result no exception in the high-stakes race to the finish. While Hamburg Diamonds sit in the overall lead 11 points ahead of the United team, a shock result from experienced duo Harrie Smolders and Eric Lamaze saw the team pick up 8 faults, putting them in 6th in today’s result.
Smart strategy and team tactics saw Valkenswaard United’s formidable duo of Marcus Ehning and Alberto Zorzi re-unite. The pair pulled out all the stops, with masterful clear rounds propelling them to the sharp end of the grid and putting them in the best possible position to leapfrog their closest rivals.
Fans basked in glorious sunshine at the magnificent Stadio dei Marmi, as the 14th leg of the Championship race kicked off. Broadcast on TV and on Facebook Live via the GCL’s official page, all eyes would be on the 18 teams to see who could finish in pole position ahead of tomorrow’s second round.
The home city team Rome Gladiators drew the proverbial short straw as first to go in the competition, however Brazilian star Marlon Zanotelli, rose to the occasion by putting in a brilliant pioneering round with Celena VDL. Those early to go looked strong, lulling the crowd into a false sense of ease after Julien Epaillard of St Tropez Pirates with Usual Suspect d’Auge, Emily Moffitt of London Knights with Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve and Max Kühner of Berlin Lions with Chardonnay 79 all jumped clear.
But it was anything but simple as Uliano Vezzani had put together an artfully designed course, testing the riders throughout. A tricky distance down the long side of the VIP hospitality caught out many of the riders, with the imposing fences coming up fast for the horses.
The stadium erupted in cheers after local star Alberto Zorzi proved why he is such a consistent Valkenswaard United anchor, after the Italian rider put in a foot-perfect clear with Fair Light van T Heike. The battle for the Championship soon reached a new level of intensity after high drama saw leaders Hamburg Diamonds collect four faults as Harrie Smolders and Don VHP Z rolled the pole on the oxer placed towards the in-gate.
Further shock came after Rome Gladiators teammate Abdel Saïd and S I E C Captain Future Z picked up an unusual 17 faults, pushing them way down the order despite Zanotelli’s earlier clear. The test was tough for the best of the best, with big names such as Roger-Yves Bost of the Shanghai Swans, Ludger Beerbaum of the Cannes Stars and Christian Ahlmann of the Mexico Amigos all collecting multiple faults for their team.
Edwina Tops-Alexander made her debut appearance for the Moscow Bears, putting in a strong round, however collective faults for the team meant they would also be out of contention.
The pressure was back on the shoulders of Valkenswaard United’s Marcus Ehning as he entered the arena with Comme IL Faut 5. A clear would put the team ahead of fierce rivals Hamburg Diamonds, and in a strong position to take back the overall lead this weekend.
The masterful Ehning pulled together a brilliant round, managing the hot stallion carefully to let him run and jump at his very best. Spectators held their breath until the final fence, before the pair crossed the finish to bring home the first team score of zero – the only team to do so today.
Second team rider Eric Lamaze took up the reins for Hamburg Diamonds, knowing he would need to go clear to keep their Championship lead alive and be in with a chance of keeping rivals Valkenswaard United off the top spot. But the pair were unlucky after Chacco Kid left his near fore down at the liverpool, adding another four faults to the team score to finish on 8.
So it would be Valkenswaard United who take the upper hand as the Championship looks to tomorrow’s second round. Can the blue and orange team regain the lead, will Hamburg Diamonds make a strategic decision to swap in British legend John Whitaker, and which horses are in their best form for the Rome final where every point counts?
For the full results, please click here.
Masterful Marlon Wows in Rome with CSI5* Win
It was a spell-binding performance on the opening day of Longines Global Champions Tour of Rome as Brazil’s Marlon Zanotelli and his 10 year old mare Celena VDL stormed to a spectacular win.
A delighted Zanotelli praised his horse: “This mare is unbelievable – I must thank my whole team at home and the VDL stud who give me the opportunity to ride this special horse. She’s so clever and so careful – she fights and gives everything in the ring. She won her last CSI5* class in Valkenswaard, and now she wins her first class here so I’m really happy.”
First to go in the competition, Zanotelli had the tough task of laying down the gauntlet for the rest of the world-class field yet to come. “It’s not easy going first, but I made my plan and it worked out. I didn’t think I’d win, but I did a clean round, putting the pressure on the others.”
Fending off Leopold van Asten (NED) with VDL Groep Miss Untouchable, who took second, and Julien Epaillard (FRA) with Usual Suspect d’Auge, who took third, Zanotelli beat the seven rider jump-off to finish as one of only two double clears.
Fans basked in glorious sunshine at the magnificent Stadio dei Marmi, as the 14th leg of the Championship race kicked off. Broadcast on TV and on Facebook Live, all eyes would be on the riders to see who would finish on top today.
Brazilian star Marlon Zanotelli, rose to the occasion as as GCL home city team – the Rome Gladiators – by putting in a brilliant pioneering round with Celena VDL. Those early to go looked strong, lulling the crowd into a false sense of ease after Julien Epaillard (FRA) with Usual Suspect d’Auge, Emily Moffitt (GBR) with Hilfiger van de Olmenhoeve and Max Kühner (AUT) with Chardonnay 79 all jumped clear.
But it was anything but simple as Uliano Vezzani had put together an artfully designed course, testing the riders throughout. A tricky distance down the long side of the VIP hospitality caught out many of the riders, with the imposing fences coming up fast for the horses. For the full first round report, please click here.
The stadium erupted in cheers after local star Alberto Zorzi (ITA) put in a foot-perfect clear with Fair Light van T Heike, earning a place in the jump-off. He was soon joined by Marcus Ehning (GER) after a stunning performance with Comme Il Faut put them in the running and looking hot to beat.
The shortened jump-off course would see six riders return to the ring for a try at the €92,000 prize fund. Once again first to go, Zanotelli put in a tidy round with his top mare, laying the gauntlet in 37.86s and challenging the rest of the field to better his time.
The pressure was on as the riders tried, and failed, with poles rolling as the world’s best pushed to come out on top. With every pole, Zanotelli looked closer and closer to the win, until Ehning returned to try his luck. Managing Comme IL Faut beautifully the German star looked set to better the Brazilian’s time, racing around the corners until the gallop to the Longines fence proved too much and they clipped the plank.
Final rider to go, Leopold van Asten (NED) put in a steady try with VDL Miss Untouchable, opting for a steady clear to guarantee second overall, stopping the clock in 39.46s. So the win would go to Zanotelli, with Epaillard fastest of the four faulters.
For full results, please click here.