Malin Baryard Johnsson: "It was hard today, it was warm and big jumps - we had to fight for it"

Malin Baryard Johnsson: "It was hard today, it was warm and big jumps - we had to fight for it"

An edge-of-the-seat GCL cliffhanger saw series leaders Valkenswaard United clinging on to pole position in the overall championship with Shanghai Swans propelled into second place after a spectacular victory in Rome.

The electrifying competition came down to the wire as the front runners Monaco Aces suffered a major setback when last to go Jos Verlooy had three down knocking the team down to seventh place. Making her debut on the team Malin Baryard-Johnsson and H&M Indiana picked up the top spot on the podium alongside team anchor Christian Ahlmann and Solid Gold Z as the only team to finish on 8 faults.

Paris Panthers duo of Harrie Smolders and Eve Jobs continued their exceptional form clinching second place with Venue d'Fees des Hazalles and Monaco while Madrid In Motion father and son pairing of Eric and Maikel van der Vleuten claimed the final spot today onboard Wunschkind and Olympic Bronze Medalist Beauville Z.

There are now just 5 points between Valkenswaard United on 247 points at the top of the overall season ranking and Shanghai Swans in second place with 242 points. Paris Panthers have closed in and are just two points behind the Swans in third while London Knights hold on to fourth place further behind with 208 points.

A beaming Malin Baryard-Johnsson said: "I had the last fence down but I knew I had Christian behind me who is a super-strong rider with a very good horse. It was hard today, it was warm and big jumps - we had to fight for it. I am so happy. It is my first competition with the Shanghai Swans and I am thrilled to be in pole position."

Christian Ahlman then explained: "We are in a good position overnight and our horses jumped in great shape already yesterday. Today we had the luck that maybe we haven’t had for the last couple of shows. I am really happy that Malin joins our team for the second half, it for sure makes our team a lot stronger. It was an important day for us, we are hoping that step by step we get closer to Valkenswaard United and today was a huge step."

Uliano Vezzani’s course featured two challenging double combinations, with plenty of riders picking up faults at each. A Longines triple combination was a hefty challenge and a wide oxer by the in-gate meant horses and riders had to keep complete focus until the finish line.

Today was only the second time ever since GCL Mexico City 2016 where no team has jumped a double clear on either days of GCL competition. Fans packed every inch of the picturesque Circus Maximus, cheering and groaning as the greats of the sport were met with thrills and spills galore. Under blue skies, but with a cool breeze, there was drama at almost every moment, with unmissable action all around the arena as teams fought for top.

Source: Press release LGCT