London Knights Claim First Win Of The Season In Action Packed GCL Valkenswaard
London Knights riders, Olivier Philippaerts and mid-season signing Douglas Lindelöw, kept cool heads under extreme pressure to win their first GCL event of the season in spectacular style. The battle for the 2021 Championship has intensified with Shanghai Swans dramatically closing the gap to overall ranking leaders Valkenswaard United.
Berlin Eagles dynamic duo of Philipp Weishaupt and Christian Kukuk powered into second place while the on from Paris Panthers pairing of Penelope Leprevost and Harrie Smolders took the final spot on the podium.
Under blue skies Uliano Vezzani designed a challenging, high octane track, with plenty for the riders to think about. The most troublesome line was the double of verticals set against the big grandstand. There was a festival atmosphere in Valkenswaard at Tops International Arena as spectators enjoyed the village, with a dedicated kids play area and were able to watch top sport from the comfort of the covered grandstand and SkyBoxes.
With all to play for, Douglas Lindelöw and Cheldon kept a steady and flowing rhythm throughout but a gut wrenching late fault, which saw him shaking his head at his 4 faults round. Olivier Philippaerts and Le Blue Diamond v’t Ruytershof took extra care to produce the goods, finishing clear and keeping the Knights on their score of 4 faults.
Two of the fastest riders on the circuit Spencer Smith and Denis Lynch joined forces again for the second round of action, after topping the podium the day before. First to go Spencer opted to ride the consistent mare Quibelle owned by team owner and rider Georgina Bloomberg. They had an unlucky pole and left teammate Denis having to go clear and fast for the win. But Lynch and GC Chopin’s Bushi cracked under pressure having two down and couldn’t convert the pole position to a win, finishing with 8 faults and just off the podium in fourth place.
Valkenswaard United kept their formidable rider line-up in Edwina Tops-Alexander and Marcus Ehning both riding the same horses as yesterday with the team clearly in the hunt to extend their overall Championship lead. Riding Fellow Castlefield, Edwina looked on track for a flawless clear until the fence coming out of the combination fell and they were suddenly out of reach for the win. The drama continued when Marcus Ehning and A la Carte NRW knocked the wide blue oxer on the far side of the arena as well as the gappy bicycle upright bringing the team score dramatically up to 16 and finishing 8th overall.
In my opinion, I think this is the best grass arena I have seen in Europe so far. There have been so many shows here this year but the facilities and the footing is still amazing so I really think it’s a fantastic job. We have had a slow start to the season for us but the last few shows we have had some decent results and hopefully, now we can start to move up the ranks a bit.”
I am delighted with both my rounds, a small mistake today but luckily I had Olivier to save me. For sure the pressure was on today but it was also a tough course, very delicate and quite technical.
In a dramatic tightening at the top, Valkenswaard United hold on to the lead with 209 points. Just behind are the Shanghai Swans with 196 points while the Paris Panthers have leapfrogged into third place on 185 points. The London Knights slide into the top fourth on 175 points while the Monaco Aces fall to fifth place two points behind them.
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