In a script worthy of the Broadway stage, today’s GCL New York R1 saw the London Knights claim pole position - propelling themselves back into the 2019 title fight as Saturday’s Championship decider rests on a knife edge.
London Knight’s formidable combination of Martin Fuchs with Clooney 51 and Ben Maher aboard Explosion W blew away the competition in a jaw-dropping class today, taking pole position and every advantage possible heading into Saturday’s showdown.
However, just one rail away after today’s results are the current ranking leaders St. Tropez Pirates, with Pieter Devos and Dani G. Waldman collecting just 4 faults in the complex class to put them within touching distance of a podium - and the Championship title - tomorrow.
In a drama-fuelled day, the Shanghai Swans - who were placed second in the overall rankings so far - were eliminated from the competition after Peder Fredricson and Zacramento unexpectedly parted ways during today’s first round of action. Their elimination would mean the team cannot improve on their score this weekend, dropping the Swans out of contention for the title.
Martin Fuchs spoke after their round: “It helped that we have two of the best horses in the world and are in great shape, so it’s a great start. My horse Clooney is in the best shape he’s ever been now.”
Teammate and team manager Ben Maher revealed the team’s tactics: "Martin and I sat down and we had a plan this week. We have our two best horses here, and it's the first time we’ve teamed them up together.”
But the experienced British Olympic gold medalist remained clear-headed: "One minute you can be winning, the next you can be out, and every score counts. We’ve come with one of the best teams possible this weekend to put pressure on the others, so we’ll hope to produce more clear rounds tomorrow."
With clear blue skies and picture-perfect weather, the first part of the conclusion to a roller-coaster GCL season kicked off in the spectacular city of New York. For the first time in history, Governors Island played host to the world’s best horses and riders, with spectators and VIPs enjoying unprecedented views of Manhattan’s downtown skyline and across the water to the Statue of Liberty.
Uliano Vezzani produced a cracker of a course, with the beautiful purpose-built fences showcasing many of New York’s greatest images. A Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building-flanked vertical caught the eye of many, and a NY silhouetted pair of verticals gave the horses plenty to look at. Vezzani’s 1.55m course was a test for the riders, with options on strides and careful decisions to be made on whether to take the inside, or outside turns. A light-to-touch GC plank would claim the most victims, as would a delicate green-and-white double set just off the in-gate.