Global Champions League: will the locals from the St Tropez Pirates dethrone the London Knights?

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Suspense is at its height after the first round (of two) of the Global Champions League, which took place this afternoon as part of the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show. The London Knights team, which are in the lead in the provisional ranking before the leg on the French Riviera, is seriously threatened by the locals from the St Tropez Pirates. Will the London Knights maintain their lead at the end of this weekend of top sport and glamour, on the particularly technical courses of the Italian course designer, Uliano Vezzani? All will be revealed on Saturday 14 September at around 4.15pm.

Valkenswaard United win the first round, the St. Tropez Pirates lie in wait

Technical is how we described Uliano Vezzani’s course… Only five combinations managed to jump clear in the allowed time out of the thirty-two participants in the Global Champions League: first in the ring and the first clear round, Great Britain’s Scott Brash (New York Empire team) with Hello Mr President didn’t pave the way for a long series of clear rounds. It wasn’t until sixteen competitors later that Italy’s Alberto Zorzi (Valkenswaard United) had the second clear round with Cinsey. Belgium’s Pieter Devos (St. Tropez Pirates), riding Espoir, Sweden’s Evelina Tovek (Scandinavian Vikings) with Winnetou de la Hamente Z, and Germany’s Maurice Tebbel (Cannes Star) with Don Diarado, were the only other riders who managed to overcome the particularities of the maestro Vezzani’s course. The result was positive for Valkenswaard United, which won the class, thanks to the clear round of Zorzi and Marcus Ehning’s four faults with Prêt à Tout. Behind them the St. Tropez Pirates (France’s Olivier Robert with Tempo de Paban and Pieter Devos) went into second place also with an overall total of four faults, but with a slightly slower time than that of Valkenswaard United. However the local team managed to successfully carry out its campaign of intimidation and gave the London Knights good reason to be worried (sixteen faults, eight for the British rider Ben Maher with Concona, eight for his team mate Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts with H&M Legend of Love who benefit from a tiny one fault lead over the Pirates in the provisional ranking of the Global Champions League before the Longines Athina Onassis Horse Show.

Outcome of the Global Champions League of Ramatuelle - Saint-Tropez: on Saturday 14 September, from 1.45pm.

Individually, France’s Olivier Perreau (not competing in the Global Champions League) had a great performance, finishing second in the class with GL events Venizia d’Aiguilly.

What the riders had to say

Alberto Zorzi (Valkenswaard United): “I’m very happy with this first place in the first round of the Global Champions League of Ramatuelle - Saint-Tropez. Cinsey jumped very well. My team mate Marcus Ehning had an amazing round which was a bit unlucky, but it’s a great start.”

Marcus Ehning (Valkenswaard United): “It was a tough class today. My horse Prêt à Tout jumped really well, but maybe I wasn’t attentive enough which might explain why we still had one rail down. We are in the lead so we hope we can hold onto it. This is the position we want to be in. It’s always nice to be on the podium, but there’s another big round on Saturday. So we’ll keep focused and try to do our best. If we are double clear on Saturday, no other team can beat us timewise.”