Stockholm Hearts take championship lead by one point winning GCL Cannes

Stockholm Hearts take championship lead by one point winning GCL Cannes

The GCL Cannes was a blockbuster, with drama right down to the final fence as Stockholm Hearts rose to the win. Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Indiana and Nicola Philippaerts on Katanga v/h Dingeshof took the iconic red Championship leaders armband off the home team Cannes Stars by just a single point.

In pole position after round one it was a repeat from last week in St Tropez, Riesenbeck International, where they couldn’t convert it to a win with Christian Kukuk on Mumbai and Philipp Schulze Topphoff riding Carla NRW to settle for second place. Kicking off their Championship campaign, Madrid In Motion’s team of Mark McAuley onboard GRS Lady Amaro and Maikel van der Vleuten and Elwikke secured yet another podium for third place.

Having lost the overall GCL season Championship to Riesenbeck International in 2022, Stockholm Hearts know what the long-game of the GCL championship is about. Stalwart of the team in red, Malin Bayard-Johnsson spoke afterwards, “It’s a really special venue, it always makes it more special to be here in the night and it’s a great atmosphere, and winning just always great. With the GCL, you get experience year to year in this championship, like we say we take it show by show – we have been very consistent so far this year, and we are just simply going to have to stay consistent because that’s what it’s about in the end.”

As no strangers to the top step of the GCL podium, having taken the win in the GCL of Cannes in 2023, Riesenbeck International were clearly chasing the win. An unfortunate 8 faults from Schulze Topphoff and Carla NRW left the team settling for second. Speaking of this year’s success, Christian Kukuk told Rosie Tapner of GCTV, “I understand that Philipp is disappointed, I would feel absolutely the same in his position, but honestly we should be more happy about the second place today – the last time when we were after the lead after round 1, we ended up fourth. So, this result we should see it positive and not be disappointed tonight.”

He went on to add, “To jump under the lights is always a special feeling. This ring has a special size – it nearly has the same length on all four sides. It is super different from all the other venues we have, and under floodlights this always makes it a bit different – it makes it a bit more exciting in general”.

But with the Championship clearly in the mind of the German maestro, Christian closed with a grin and simple statement: “The overall is far away from done”.

A third place finish for Madrid in Motion saw the team looking up again at the top step of the podium. With a second in the previous stage, Ramatuelle, St. Tropez, Mark McAuley discussed the added pressure of riding for other people in a traditionally individual sport. Speaking to GCTV he said, “There’s always pressure when you’re riding for the team – it’s a different feeling than when you’re riding as an individual, you always feel a little more pressure. You want to do well for the team and you don’t want to let people down. Though normally in this sport pressure is a help – it makes you try harder, it’s only a good thing”.

As for the Championship? Madrid in Motion have one aim..Maikel said: “It’s always good to be as high as possible… we try to do show by show, and try to every time get the right riders with their horses at every event, try to perform well, and the overall will follow.”

The drama meant there was a major shuffle in the overall rankings, as teams continue to fight to stay in the top four, and fast track their way through to the GCL Super Cup Semi-Final at the GC Riyadh Playoffs. Taking the lead for the first time this year, Stockholm Hearts sit on 137 points while long time Championship leaders Cannes Stars slipped into second on 136 points. Madrid In Motion stay in third on 123 points while last year’s Champions catapulted up the rankings to fourth place on 122 points.

Source: GCL
F. ©: GCL