The highly anticipated new season of the Longines Global Champions Tour/Global Champions League kicked off over the weekend in Mexico City. Held at Campo Marte, the first stop of the Longines Global Champions Tour series is now in its third edition.
LGCT Mexico City was already an unmissable event with its unique atmosphere, top facilities, and engaged fans, but the 2018 edition was truly an impressive competition.
New riders, new venues, new high-power player stakes, and championship title opportunities only increased the excitement leading up to the year’s first Global Tour event. Was it all worth the hype? You better believe it, and here are the week’s performances that prove why:
- Never count out riders drawn late in the order. Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar out rode a top field of 57 in Thursday’s opening 1.45m speed class. The 13-year-old grey gelding Fidux grew wings and flew Aznar into the lead after jumping 2.62 seconds faster than the next competitor.
- The first Irish win of the weekend [one of many as you’ll go on to read!] was Shane Sweetnam in Friday’s 1.45m two-phase aboard his 17-year-old stallion Cyklon.
- Older equines continued to dominate in Mexico as two-time LGCT Champion, Scott Brash and his 17-year-old mare Ursula XII clinched the opening LGCT Grand Prix. “I’m absolutely delighted for Ursula and my team,” Brash told LGCT press after Saturday’s victory. “She’s probably in her last season, so to get a big win here in Mexico is really rewarding for us all. I’m delighted with her and I think she jumped better in every round.”
*This win means that Brash is now the first athlete to qualify for the new Longines Global Champions Super Grand Prix in November.
- Pius Schwizer escaped the cold of Switzerland for the beautiful views of Mexico, riding to first place in the 1.50m Russula Trophy speed class.
- Sunday’s final five-star class, the 1.55m Banorte Trophy, was secured by Belgium’s Pieter Devos and his 13-year-old chestnut gelding Apart. Not a bad way to close out the first Global stop of the series and your first outdoor show of 2018.
Global Champions League
This competitive team series is intense from the very first event, and what we’ve learned over past seasons is that riders have a better chance at meeting success over the coming months if they start strong. The Paris Panthers and Miami Celtics have done exactly that so far this season.
Nineteen teams contested Friday’s opening class, but the Paris Panthers duo Gregory Wathelet with Coree, and Darragh Kenny with Cassini Z, laid down the only double clear performance of the day to take an early lead.
The London Knights had twin power in-hand with Olivier and Nicola Philippaerts delivering the runner-up position with only one time fault between them. Last year’s overall team champions, Valkenswaard United once again enlisted the talents of Marcus Ehning and Bertram Allen who delivered with only four faults.
The teams then returned in reverse order for Saturday’s final. The eventual victors were the new Miami Celtics, improving on their initial six faults from Friday with Saturday’s only double clear effort.
The Celtics’ U25 rider Michael Duffy on EFS Top Contender and team-mate Denis Lynch on RMF Cadeau De Muze definitely left their mark early on in this series. Watch out for this strong Irish contingent.
Source: GC Global Champions.com
All photos ©GCL/Stefano Grasso