Championship Fever Intensifies as New York Empire Storm to the Top in GCL Valkenswaard Round 1
Denis Lynch and Spencer Smith of New York Empire showcased enormous grace under pressure to claim pole position for this Saturday’s showdown in Global Champions League (GCL) Valkenswaard.
Smith and Quibelle set off with purpose, the pair determined to help New York Empire rise back up the rankings. They flew around the arena, taking each challenge perfectly in their stride and keeping forward momentum throughout for a fast clear. With Lynch and GC Chopin’s Bushi producing a super round, the pair pulled out all the stops to catapult the team straight into the lead and starting in prime position.
Mid-season transfer Douglas Lindelöw made it look a very jumpable course on Casquo Blue as they cruised around the expansive grass arena to bring home a clear as first to go for the London Knights (2nd). Teammate Olivier Philippaerts brought out the talented grey Zayado. They also finished on a 0 score, finishing to be the first team out and double clear putting the pressure on the rest of the field.
The Paris Panthers (3rd) brought out their A-squad with the formidable line-up of Penelope Leprevost on GFE Excalibur de la Tour Vidal and Harrie Smolders riding Monaco. They opted for a slightly steadied pace but showed their true place to finish on a 0 score and set themselves up perfectly for tomorrow’s showdown.
Edwina Tops-Alexander and Fellow Castlefield for Valkenswaard United (7th) had a rub in the middle part of the triple combination but it stayed up and they looked set for another clear until the Stal Tops fence came down as the penultimate fence putting them on the back foot. German legend, and Tops-Alexander’s teammate, Marcus Ehning produced a fast foot perfect clear on Calanda leaving the team on 4 faults.
A total of four teams will kick off the Saturday’s round with a score of zero, with the top two separated by just six-tenths of a second on their combined scores – remarkable considering the large grass arena and very different types of horses used. With a 50% clear rate, the time was crucial to still be in with a chance to win the final.
With every point counting in the race to the finals and the GC Prague Playoffs, New York Empire are hungry to convert their pole into a win on Saturday and boost their campaign to climb up the Championship leaderboard.
Speaking after their round Lynch said:
The footing here is fantastic, we are delighted with our two horses today and looking forward to tomorrow even though it will be bigger and more difficult.”
Spencer Smith then added:
I thought it was a nice course, my mare is owned by Georgina on the team there, she handled it brilliantly, she’s a super horse and popped round easily. I was just putting in a clear today and will worry about the time tomorrow.”
Uliano Vezzani made full use of the sweeping 125m by 85m arena. There was plenty for the horses to look at in the first round of GCL Valkenswaard, a delicate Longines plank at fence two and the oxer the vertical in the middle of the combination caught out a few as the whole course required pinpoint focus and precision right to the final stride.
You may also like to read