London Knights Overtake Valkenswaard United in Global Champions League CSI5* Final of Miami Beach

Kent Farrington & Creedance for the London Knights. Ph. ©Tori Repole for NF

The headline was all but written for the untouchable Valkenswaard United in the Global Champion League’s Miami Beach leg: all Bertram Allen had to do was jump clear was last to go to claim the win for his team in the €270,000 Global Champions League CSI5* Final of Miami Beach.

Once again proving that in show jumping nothing is guaranteed, Allen and Hector van d’Abdijoeve ticked two rails for eight faults, relegating them, along with teammates Alberto Zorzi and Cornetto K, to 2nd place, and giving the London Knights the win based on cumulative time in Miami Beach, Florida, USA on April 15, 2017.

So Ben Maher and Kent Farrington stood atop the podium in their bright red London Knights team jackets, with Maher jumping a clear and four fault round over the two days of competition with Don Vito. Farrington did the same aboard two mounts; Dublin and Creedance, but it was his final round with Creedance that pushed the London Knights up to first place with the quickest time over the 1.55/1.60m speed course.

The St Tropez Pirates placed 3rd on 12 faults; riders Jerome Guery and Simon Delestre each rode two mounts over the two days of competition—a new twist that has been added this GCL season.

Yes, there was a champagne shower for the winners.

“I think it’s really exciting what Jan is doing for the sport,” Farrington said of the changes to the 2017 GCL. “He started the Global Champions Tour 12 years ago and it’s been evolving ever since. I think the team competition is the latest evolution for a big sport. You can already see the changes from last year and I’m excited to be a part of it. It’s a good way to show people the sport here in Miami.”

The bikini-clad spectators who packed into the stands at one end of the arena and lined the beach side of the stunning setting may not have picked up on the nuances of this particular competition, but they enthusiastically followed along, and groaned as well as an educated European audience whenever a rail fell. The competition began with Miami Glory home riders Scott Brash, Georgina Bloomberg, and Kimberly Prince signing team fans at the rail, creating a friendly interaction between riders and the public.

The entry list of 58—22 individual riders and 36 riders representing the 18 GCL teams, were all vying for a qualifying berth in the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Miami Beach CSI5*. The grand prix was held just an hour after the conclusion of the GCL final.

Alongside the team placings, that’s where the tension centered. No longer a class that riders can qualify for throughout the weekend and no longer a full, two-round grand prix with a start list of 40, the new Global Champions Tour Grand Prix CSI5* competition allows just 25 riders to show and they have to have qualified in the GCL class previous.

The track was a tough one, and the eight riders who managed a clear round let their happiness show. Farrington finished a full two seconds faster than 2nd placed Martin Fuchs and Chaplin. Lauren Hough and Ohlala were 3rd best with their clear.

With many four fault results in the GCL Final, it meant that no eight-faulters qualified for the grand prix. Read more about the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour CSI5* Grand Prix of Miami Beach at this link.

Bertram Allen and Hector Van D’abdijhoeve

Back to the GCL standings, Valkenswaard United still maintains their overall lead after the first two legs (they won in Mexico City a week previous.)

“We were very good the first day, then Alberto was clear today, and unfortunately it didn’t go our way,” Allen said. “But we are still first in the league so we will keep the pressure on.”

The London Knights are now 2nd in overall standings, with the St Tropez Pirates in 3rd.

In two weeks, the Global Champions League reconvenes in Shanghai, China, for its third of 15 legs on the tour. As always, GCL co-founder Jan Tops was on hand to pump up his new series, and while the jury is still out on if the new format will be a lasting one, there’s no question that it has raised the stakes and sped up the competitiveness of this level of show jumping.

“No one can have any error. That makes it exciting,” Tops said. “When you have a clear round you move up quick. So there’s more turbulence. That’s why people like it and that’s a big part of the change.”

See the list of individual results for the Global Champions League Final/competition in two groups (individuals & teams) CSI5* at this link.

See the list of team results for the Global Champions League Final/competition in two groups (individuals & teams) CSI5* at this link.

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