The GC Prague Playoffs kicked off in spectacular style yesterday with the GCL Super Cup Quarter Finals. With 8 teams vying for a place in the next round, today's Semi Final, competition was fierce and a full house got behind an elite line-up of horse and rider combinations.
It was an evening full of high drama as eight teams survived the dramatic knockout competition to take their place in today's semi-final. Teams that did not make the cut are the Cannes Stars, Scandinavian Vikings, New York Empire and London Knights .
Unfortunate elimination of the Cannes Stars
For the Cannes Stars, consisting of Johnny Pals, Jens Backmann and Sameh El Dahan, yesterday's elimination was a real drama. In a shocking turn of events, Backmann started his round prior to the bell ringing which resulted in elimination taking them out of the race to the GCL Super Cup Semi-Final.
Sameh El Dahan explained: "The Playoffs is the last show of the year, the whole team was very excited to come here and disappointed for sure not to jump. I also feel for Jens, we were all really excited about this show. So for this to happen to him I think was a bit heartbreaking and a bit unfair. But that is sport and you have to live with the disappointment, and it has been a little bit the story with the Cannes Stars this year, a little bit up and down, two podium finishes, but still a lot of downs and a lot of ups. We were hoping to finish on a high but its not meant to be and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger really.
It’s sport and this is what I love about this sport, it’s very exciting, there are a lot of ups and downs, there’s never guarantees and you can see that everybody has their horses well prepared and in as best form as they can and a small thing like this happens and all your dreams are shattered. So it is a bit like this and that is what I love about this sport – there are a lot of emotions and a lot of excitement, and we just have to live with the bad days as well as the good days. For myself I have a few good days to fall back on and keep motivated for the future."
Golden Paris Panthers
Last to go Paris Panthers had already showed their class with Gregory Wathelet on Nevados S and Harrie Smolders on Monaco producing the clears, leaving miles of room for Ben Maher and Faltic HB. Ultimately, they took top spot as the only team to finish on 4 faults.
Ben Maher told GCTV: "I think the team deserved a good result this week. I think it makes a difference this week and plays to our advantage with the format of 3 riders instead of 2."
Madrid in Motion in second place
Maikel van der Vleuten smiled yesterday: "We had a super start with two clear rounds from Jack and Angelica – Jack had a super clear round and also Angelica. We can look forward to tomorrow. The season so far was so-so but we know we have the right riders and the right horses to perform well in Prague, and that is what we are going for. We try to make our right plan, and try to focus on what we are doing."
The season’s top four teams from the GCL championship, Berlin Eagles, Stockholm Hearts, Prague Lions and Shanghai Swans are back in the mix for today's semi-final. With each of the 12 teams starting back on a zero score and the opportunity for horse and rider substitutions ahead of the penultimate decider, tactics, strategy and clear focus will be in order as teams battle for a place in Sunday’s Final.
Photo: © GCL