Global Champions League – Diamonds Take Early Advantage As GCL Final Team Riders Announced
Hamburg Diamonds have secured the premium position of ‘last to go’ ahead of today’s first round of the final Global Champions League of 2017.
With just 17 points difference between the Diamonds and defending GCL Champions Valkenswaard United, the battle for the overall League title has reached a new intensity, with the nail-biting final taking place in Qatar’s capital city Doha.
Starting 18th, the heavyweight duo of Harrie Smolders and Eric Lamaze will have the advantage of watching the rest of the world class field take on the formidable Uliano Vezzani designed course, although Smolders revealed the tactics are always to “jump clean and fast” without becoming too fixated on the teams around them. Closest rivals Valkenswaard United were pulled 13th from the box, with the consistently strong pairing of Bertram Allen and Alberto Zorzi selected for the team in Round 1 in a clear sign of intent to win.
As the points play out, the Diamonds will need to finish 8th or higher to secure their first GCL title. However a win from United, and a shock result from the leading team could see the blue and orange riders keep hold of their Championship title for a second consecutive year.
Further down the field there will be a dramatic fight to finish high in the season ranking. Teams have made their strategic choices and Mexico Amigos will bring in anchor Christian Ahlmann alongside young talent Evelina Tovek, St Tropez Pirates will see the dream team duo of Simon Delestre and Jerome Guery, while Miami Glory will unite Scott Brash with Cian O’Connor.
Horse power will be centre stage with some of the brightest equine stars in show jumping in action at AL SHAQAB. Smolders’ stallion Don VHP Z looked to be on superb form during the warm up. Riders have brought their top horses to the event, with the likes of Taloubet Z, Molly Malone V, Fine Lady 5, Ensor de Litrange LXII, VDL Groep Verdi TN, and Ursula X all in action for the final show of the season.
Local fans will be cheering for home city team Doha Fursan Qatar, with Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani and Bassem Hassan Mohammed taking up the reins for the burgundy team – second in the draw to go. The team to draw the short straw in today’s reveal was Berlin Lions – the combination of Anna Kellnerova and Cindy van der Straten the first team riders to enter the ring in Thursday’s competition.
Chantilly Pegasus will bring out Sergio Alvarez Moya and Lauren Hough and Rome Gladiators will have the intimidating team of Lorenzo de Luca and Laura Kraut. Another pairing to watch out for will be the Vienna Eagles duo of Gregory Wathelet and Niels Bruynseels, while Moscow Bears will pull experienced anchor Edwina Tops-Alexander off the bench and team her up with young U25 talent Kevin Jochems.
GCL Doha Round 1 kicks off at 17:30 local time, with all the action available via Global Champions League TV and on the official Facebook page. As always this season, riders will be fighting for pole position ahead of Saturday’s final, with combined scores carried through. All eyes will be on who performs strongest in today’s Round 1 and then what tactics, strategies and star striker swaps will come into play for the final round of action in the 15-event Championship.
For the full team rider list of the Global Champions League, please click here.