The Monaco Aces’ combination of Julien Epaillard with Virtuose Champeix and Laura Kraut with Curious George powered to pole position today as Cascais, Estoril was lit up for the ninth round of action in the GCL Championship.
Fittingly it was the Aces who came up trumps under balmy Portuguese evening skies, the beautiful grass arena situated just down the road from Estoril’s famous casino which is thought to be where Ian Fleming came up with the idea for Casino Royale.
With four teams on a double clear this evening, and one on a single time fault, Saturday’s showdown already promises to be an electrifying competition in the fight for the overall rankings. Hot on the Aces’ heels are Valkenswaard United’s pairing of Marcus Ehning and Bertram Allen, with Paris Panthers’ duo of Darragh Kenny and Gregory Wathelet taking third tonight.
But the Aces were the fastest combined time today, and Julien Epaillard gave a very honest review of his round: "I tried to make a clear [for the team] first of all, but my horse was spooky today. I had little control and that’s why I was so fast!"
Teammate Laura Kraut agreed that the lights were a crucial element in today’s competition: "I was mainly concerned about jumping clear. My horse was a little spooky too with the light but we jumped clear and here we are! They made a nice first round today to get the horses used to the lighting at night. Hopefully the horses will be just as good on Saturday and we can keep our position."
Julien revealed the Aces would stay with the same game-plan for the crucial second round: "We’ll stay with the same plan. We’ve made half of the job, and so we need to do the rest now!"
Frank Rothenberger set a forward, flowing course making full use of the beautiful galloping grass arena which is used only once a year exclusively for this event. A huge triple bar followed by a gappy red and white GCL oxer required scope and power in equal measure, before horses were brought back to clear the easy to roll pole. The final line saw a challenging Cascais double set before a wide brown and white liverpool lined oxer, positioned towards the in-gate and requiring the horses to keep their eye on the ball. The tight time allowed of 82 seconds would also play a fundamental role in this evening’s competition.
For the full results, please click here.