In a night of turbo-charged action in Monaco, the Scandinavian Vikings’ duo of Geir Gulliksen with VDL Groep Quatro and Evelina Tovek with Winnetou de la Hamente Z took pole position as the only team to finish on a clear score this evening.
It came down to just one fence after the home city team Monaco Aces’ Laura Kraut and Marlon Zanotelli dropped a pole. Chantilly Pegasus’ Constant van Paesschen and René Lopez rounded out third this evening - just two time faults setting them adrift of the top two teams.
A delighted Geir Gulliksen spoke for the Vikings: “It was a very delicate course - it was a good course. You have to be correct to all the fences. There’s a few teams here with younger horses and it’s a special ring. I was very motivated when [Evelina] jumped clear and my horse jumped very well.”
The unique Monaco event is nestled next to the super-yachts and where the pitlane of the Formula 1 races are held, with the venue oozing sporting history and prowess.
Speaking during the live GC TV studio ahead of tonight’s class, home city team rider Marlon Zanotelli of the Monaco Aces said: "It’s a fantastic place, I really love to be here. I’ve followed Ayrton Senna for years so to be here where he raced [in Formula 1] is a pleasure.”
Marlon added: "The pressure is on [for the home team, the Aces] - everyone is watching us and we have to do great this weekend, so hopefully we’ll finish well."
Frank Rothenberger set a flowing course, with riders taking on plenty of sweeping turns and moving from each end of the uniquely shaped arena. The course had plenty of questions, with fences coming up thick and fast for the riders, leaving little room for error. The bogey fence would be a wide GCL oxer, set on a curving roll back away from the in-gate, with riders able to take multiple lines to the challenge. Another challenge to fall would be the final line - a double set up against the longside of the arena, right next to the watching public. With a time allowed of 76s, riders had to manage their turns carefully - too wide and they would risk a timefault, but too tight and the delicate fences could fall.
Marlon also gave an insight into the type of horse best suited to the unique shaped arena, which is the smallest and most technical stage of the circuit: "You need a horse who is well educated - everything comes very fast so you need to be able to rearrange between the jumps. You need a careful and smart horse, as jumps come up quick in front of them."
It would be a night of high-octane action under the lights; here’s how GCL Monaco R1 unfolded…
The trailblazer for the current GCL Ranking leaders, the London Knights, was Ben Maher with his 9 year old stallion F One Usa. Unusually, the Tennor plank fell, as did the delicate second part of the double, putting the team onto a score of 8. Martin Fuchs headed into his round for the team with a score of 8 after a discussion in the arena between the two. But the GC Prague Playoffs vertical fell early on for Martin and his 11 year old horse The Sinner, as did the first part of the final double - the team would finish today on a tally of 16 faults.
U25 rider Frank Schuttert brought out top horse Queensland E for this round of action, taking his time with the ten year old bay stallion. But they drifted wide to the GCL oxer and Frank had to circle, adding four faults to their score. Despite finishing clear they picked up two time faults, putting the team onto a score of 6. Marcus Ehning was next to take up the reins with Mill Creek Filippa K, his eye-catching nine year old chestnut mare. Marcus gave the horse plenty of support but the first part of the final combination came down, the team tumbling to a score of 10 faults.
Home city team Monaco Aces knew they had everything to prove on home turf, with Laura Kraut first to go with the gutsy Curious George. Despite the impressive arena, the 10 year old bay gelding jumped perfectly for Laura, the duo finishing clear for the team. Marlon Zanotelli opted to ride Koddac van het Indihof - a relatively young horse, but one who has proven his consistency and maturity already on the season. Marlon kept a cool and flowing rhythm, but there was heartache after the final fence fell, the second part of the double falling and putting the team on a score of 4 faults.
New York Empire
With team owner and rider Georgina Bloomberg watching on, the New York Empire took centre stage for the 10th leg of action. Denis Lynch and his new mount GC Chopin’s Bushi set off at a speedy pace, Denis keeping a forward momentum throughout the flowing course. And they delivered, Georgina clapping in appreciation from the kiss n’ cry as the duo brought home a clear. After a brief discussion with his teammate Hans-Dieter Dreher took to the track with Prinz. But they came a little deep and dropped a shoulder to the GC Prague Playoffs fence, and the lilac oxer tumbled too, the team finishing on 8 faults tonight.
Marco Kutcher’s Chades of Blue looked a little spooky in the first half of the track, but Marco reassured his 11 year old gelding and they settled into a steady rhythm. With team manager Jessica Kurten - a rider who won the LGCT Grand Prix of Monaco in 2007 - they pulled out a brilliant clear, the team cheering from the sidelines. Agonisingly the AirFrance vertical fell for next to go Gerco Schroder and Glock's Cognac Champblanc, as did the final fence. A time fault after they crossed the line milliseconds over the 76s would mean the team finish today on 9 faults.
Pius Schwizer was the pathfinder for the Shanghai Swans, the team keen to regain their long-standing Championship lead. With his 10 year old chestnut gelding the duo flew around the technical track, only defeated by the delicate GC Vertical. But Pius and his naturally fast horse put in an extra effort to finish with a quick time, knowing their teammate to come was much slower. They would finish on four faults and hand over to their U25 rider Kim Emmen with the slower-paced Teavanta II C Z. But two fences and a costly time fault would drop the team to 10.
Madrid in Motion
Monaco welcomed the father and son team of Eric and Maikel van der Vleuten - the duo who won earlier this season at GCL Cannes. First was father Eric van der Vleuten, who brought out his 11 year old gelding Djoost Again, the horse getting a little keen and strong as the fences came up thick and fast. But they couldn’t get off the ground quick enough out of the first double, the vertical fence falling and a time fault put the team on a score of five so far. Maikel brought out his bay 9 year old gelding Beauville Z, a horse he really rates for the future. But there was dismay as the first part of the final double fell, the team picking up another four faults and dropping to a score of 9 overall.
U25 rider Constant van Paesschen was first to compete for the Chantilly Pegasus, bringing out his 10 year old chestnut stallion Verdi Treize. They rattled the Tennor plank, but it stayed up and they impressed once again, producing a foot-perfect clear to keep the team in touch ahead of Saturday’s showdown. René Lopez brought out top horse Histoire D, the experienced 12 year old bay mare leaving plenty of air above the fences. But the first part of the final combination fell and two time faults put the team onto a score of 6.
Yuri Mansur and Carlson shook the Monaco oxer but settled into a strong rhythm during the first part of the course for the Paris Panthers. The Tennor plank came down however, dropping the team to four, with Yuri passing the baton to teammate Nayel Nassar and top horse Lordan. The experienced 15 year old gelding jumped his heart out for Nayel but were a little unsettled to the AirFrance vertical and the rail fell putting the team on eight overall. They crossed the finish line just under the time allowed, with the team on a total of 8.
St Tropez Pirates
Lucia Le Jeune Vizzini made her debut for the team last week in Cascais, finishing double clear for the Pirates. The team played her up front again for this round of action, with the huge-striding stallion Loro Piana Filou de Muze. They took their time over the fences, Lucia allowing the big moving horse plenty of room to the obstacles but the final fence fell, putting the team on 4. Olivier Robert opted to ride Vangog du Mas Garnier, his 10 year old grey stallion and took his time to the first fence, the Massimo Dutti vertical. The pair won a CSI5* class last week in Cascais, Estoril, and looked to be on form, the horse responding beautifully to his careful rider’s requests. But the horse because a little strong in the final turn, the first part of the final double falling to put the team on 8 overall.
Evelina Tovek brought out Winnetou de la Hamente Z for this round of action, a nine year old gelding by Winningmood. The young rider pulled out yet another clear for the team, passing the pressure over to Geir Gulliksen with VDL Groep Quatro. Geir has been on the team four times this year, and guided the small horse carefully around the tight arena. They stuttered to the GC vertical - Geir having to work hard to keep the horse straight and with enough power to clear the fence. But they pulled it off, finishing faultlessly and the team shooting up into the lead tonight with a double clear.
Jur Vrieling brought out his nine year old grey gelding KM Chalcedon for the 10th round of action in the GCL Championship, the Dutch rider pushing on to keep the slower moving horse in a constant rhythm. But the second part of the first combination came down, a hind leg rolling the pole and putting the team on a score of 4. A time fault to add would put the Falcons onto a tally of 5, with teammate Bassem Hassan Mohammed next to go. Bassem won the LGCT Grand Prix of Monaco in 2014, and this year opted to ride top gelding - the 13 year old gelding Gunder. Bassem gave the big striding horse a smooth ride, turning on a beautiful curve to the Casino vertical, but the GCL oxer fell after they took that turn too tight to make up the time. The team would finish on 9 tonight.
Christian Kukuk would bring out top stallion Limoncello NT but there would be disaster as they ran out at the last minute to the AirFrance vertical. Despite their obvious disappointment, the duo were able to recover to finish clear, a further two time faults added to put the team on 6. Teammate Ludger Beerbaum took up the mantle with Casello, the experienced combination keen to finish clear to help the team. But it all came undone at the final line, with both parts of the double falling, and Ludger doing well to stay on board. The team would finish on 15 faults.
Jane Richard Philips piloted top horse Foica van den Bisschop around the track, but it fell apart after they lost a little control after the GCL oxer, Jane sitting back to the final line but unable to control the keen horse as both parts of the combination fell. A added time fault would put them on a score of 9. Abdel Saïd and Etos HBC would roll the GC Prague Playoffs plank, and the first part of the initial combination. A time fault too would drop the team down to 19 and at the bottom of tonight’s order.
Final team to go Miami Celtics would field two star strikers - U25 rider Harry Charles and 2018 LGCT Grand Prix of Monaco winner Shane Breen. First up was Harry with Borsato, the bay 13 year old gelding making his first appearance on the GCL Championship. But the Tennor plank fell, as did the second part of the double as the team’s score fell to eight. Another fence at the final line would put the team on a score of 12 - an unexpected result for the solid team rider. Shane Breen brought out his LGCT Grand Prix of Monaco winning horse Ipswich van de Wolfsakker, the 11 year old chestnut gelding already proven in this ring. The pair took on the course with confidence, Shane doing well to keep his sit tight as the keen horse turned himself inside out to clear the AirFrance vertical. But the second part of the initial double fell, another four added to the team’s score and putting the Celtics on 16 overall.
For tonight's results, please click here.
Source: Press release GCL
Photo: Stefano Grasso/GCL