As teams scramble to rack up points before the 2017 Global Champions League finale, teammates Jos Verlooy and Harrie Smolders of the Hamburg Diamonds produced the biggest upset of the season in round one of the GCL of Valkenswaard.
On Friday, August 11, The Diamonds came into the 13th leg of competition trailing three points behind the Valkenswaard United in the overall GCL rankings. Verlooy and Smolders were the only pairing to produce clear rounds, which placed their team at the top of the leaderboard going into Saturday’s final. A costly four faults felled home favorites Alberto Zorzi and Marcus Ehning of the Valkenswaard United. Though the team dropped into 4th place, they still have a chance of keeping their overall lead in the rankings.
“I’m very happy with my horse, he made my job very easy,” said Verlooy, who piloted the 9-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding Igor (Emerald van ‘T Ruytershof x Nabab de Reve). “He’s green but he rode like he’s been doing this for years, and I’m delighted with the result.”
Smolders, who rode the 12-year-old Holsteiner stallion Capital Colnardo (Colman x Coronado), shared Verlooy’s sentiments, though cautiously acknowledged how quickly the order can change. “We’re only halfway. We’re focused on tomorrow and on ourselves, and we’ll see where we end up.”
The Berlin Lions, represented by teammates Max Kühner and Anna Kellnerova, will go into Saturday’s competition on one time fault, finishing the day in 2nd place ahead of the Cascais Charms on the team leaderboard.
The 13-obstacle-course, designed by Italy’s Uliano Vezzani, saw only 12 of it’s riders through to the jump off.
Under the grand stand lights, Columbia’s Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo produced the fastest clear round aboard the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood mare Cuplandra (Upgrade x Metall) to take home the lump sum of the €92,000 purse.
“I wanted to win today,” said Lopez. “I’ve been training [Cuplandra] for five or six shows to not be scared of the lights — she used to really back off. Step by step she’s grown, and she’s only 10, so I’m very proud. I knew I had to take my chance to the last, and I went! When you get the best riders in the world it’s important to prove you do a good job and that the mare is good.”
For 2nd place, USA’s Kent Farrington and the 10-year-old German Warmblood gelding Dublin (Cobra x Calido) finished with a time of 40.06. In 3rd place, Dutch rider Maikel van der Vleuten rode the 11-year-old gelding VDL Groep Quatro (Quaprice Bois Margot x Caletto I) to a time of 40.86.
The Global Champions League final kicks off tomorrow at 14:30. Immediately following at 18:00 will be the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Valkenswaard.
For full results, visit this link.
For the current GCL results going into Saturday’s competition, visit this link.