The Global Champions League made an impressive debut on French soil with another nail-biting round of thrilling competition as the twelve teams battled it out against the backdrop of the Chateau de Chantilly for the intense overall ranking battle.
Madrid in Motion stormed to their first victory of the season, with Pedro Veniss and For Felicila uniting with Gonzalo Añón Suarez and Qlamp d’Ivraie to ride a stunning round seven of what is turning into a fascinating debut season championship. An ecstatic Madrid in Motion rider Gonzalo said ‘today was our day’ with teammate Pedro agreeing and saying “I just love the [League]!”
The mighty Rome Gladiators carried their momentum through from their recent win in Madrid, with Laura Renwick and Heliodor Hybris combining with Marlon Módolo Zanotelli and Valetto Jx for the first time this season to take a strong silver medal. Bronze went to another new combination, with Roosje Brouwer riding Van Helsing and Kevin Jochems with Zanzibar putting in a stunning performance for team Cannes Stars and lifting the team up to 5th overall on the rankings.
The drama in the overall GCL Rankings has moved up a gear once more, with Valkenswaard United narrowly holding onto their lead with a total of 164 points overall. Hot on their heels are the Monaco Aces, who sit on 160 points, and following their string of success, the Rome Gladiators have jostled out the Antwerp Diamonds from third and currently sit on 157 points overall.
The final competition of the day concluded four fantastic days of show jumping at the stunning Chateau de Chantilly, where fans filled the grandstands despite the rain and cheered on the teams throughout the competition. The atmosphere was electric, with the crowd clapping the riders into the arena and were up on their feet for a Mexican wave for the spectacular lap of honour.
The first round was a long course; 13 fences took them all around the expansive grass arena with the Grand Stables providing a stunning backdrop. GCL Ranking leaders Valkenswaard United showed no signed of pressure with two beautiful clears from Alberto Zorzi and Eduardo Menezes, a combination who took the Silver Medal in Shanghai. Joining them in the second round with a zero score was Shanghai winners Cascais Charms, featuring the fierce combination of David Will with Monodie H and Andreas Kreuzer who rode Stalido. Rome Gladiators were the third team to go clear – with Marlon Módolo Zanotelli joining forces with Laura Renwick, who helped the team to victory in Madrid the previous weekend.
The course allowed no margin for error and a rub of a pole for both of Antwerp Diamonds riders Audrey Coulter and Marc Houtzager saw them fail to progress through to the second round; an unusual result for the strong team who were in third place and consistently on the podium this season so far. There were twelve clears overall, with Cascais Charms, Valkenswaard United, and the Rome Gladiators joined by the Cannes Stars, Madrid In Motion, Monaco Aces, Shanghai Swans and Doha Fursan Qatar as the eight through to the next phase of the competition.
Round two saw a bigger course and a tight time allowed of 77 seconds; while the jumps were imposing and a true test of the top horses and riders at the full height of 1.55m, the course was flowing with perfect conditions underfoot. Clears came thick and fast, however many of the teams picked up time faults, adding agonising points to their overall combined tally and shuffling the order overall.
Of the teams carrying zero scores going into the second round Alberto Zorzi from Valkenswaard United and Andreas Kreutzer of Cascais Charms were the first riders to go, and again jumped smooth clears. The pressure was then on their teammates to match their flawless rounds, and the temperature rose as the final rounds played out.
The tensions were palpable and the team rivalry high as riders watched nervously from the kiss n’ cry as their team-mates went into the ring for critical rounds.