GCL: St Tropez Pirates’ Michael Pender and Simon Delestre Sail to Victory in Valendswaard
The Longines Tops International Arena came alive with excitement as spectators gathered to witness the exhilarating action in the Global Champions League (GCL) of Valkenswaard. Against the backdrop of an epic atmosphere that captivated both seasoned fans and newcomers alike, St Tropez Pirates took top honors. Michael Pender onboard HHS Catwalk and last to go Simon Delestre riding I Amelusina R 51 were the only team to finish with just a single rail down.
World number one Henrik von Eckermann and Richard Howley stormed to second for the Scandinavian Vikings continuing their best season so far. Ultra-consistent Paris Panthers collected yet another podium finish and closed the gap to Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian in the overall Championship standings with a third place from Ben Maher on Dallas Vegas Batilly and Harrie Smolders with Monaco N.O.P.
Speaking exclusively to GCTV, the St. Tropez Pirates debriefed on their first podium finish for 2023. Simon Delestre explained: “I think we have a fantastic team with Athina Onassis behind us and a team that always tries to fight together for the best result.”
Adding valuable points at a crucial stage of the season, the Scandinavian Vikings represented by Richard Howley and Henrik Von Eckermann unpacked their performance with GCTV following their third podium of the season. Having only joined the team in the mid-season transfer period, Howley commented on the value he’s been able to bring to the table at the late stage in the season.
He said: “Delighted to get the opportunity and be able to do that. It’s very hard to get into these shows, and I am delighted to be part of the GCL and Longines Global Champions Tour.”
Finishing on the podium yet again, Paris Panthers edge closer to the current season leaders, Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland Equestrian. With just 20 points now separating the two teams, Harrie Smolders and Ben Maher commented on the advantage of finishing on the podium in the GCL of Valkenswaard.
With 20 points the difference, just two stages left in the 2023 GCL Championship race, Smolders reiterated how much the Championship race is still very much alive. He said: “We closed the gap a little bit, but I think we still have a way to go so that will be hard to beat them – but, who knows, hopefully after Riyadh the Panthers are on top!”
As the sun set on the picturesque Longines Tops International arena, participants and spectators alike were left with memories of a truly unforgettable experience as the Championship race now heads to Rome from 15 – 17 September.