Hamburg Diamonds are on course for overall victory in the Global Champions League after securing a crucial victory in the penultimate leg of the series in Rome this afternoon.
Eric Lamaze (Chacco Kid) and Harrie Smolders (Don VHP Z) both served up clear rounds for Hamburg to overturn Valkenswaard United’s overnight lead and nudge the reigning champions back into third on the day.
Valkenswaard’s challenge ran into trouble this afternoon when Alberto Zorzi (Fair Light van t’Heike) and Marcus Ehning (Comme Il Faut), who had both jumped clear yesterday, had eight faults and four respectively, Ehning only coming undone at the last fence.
Hamburg’s win consolidates their position at the top of the standings and extends the margin of their lead over Valkenswaard to 17 points, meaning a top-eight finish in the final round in Doha, Qatar in November is the most they would require to clinch the title.
Valkenswaard squad member Bertram Allen was not involved in this leg. His German colleague Ehning believes all is not lost yet for the team. “It will come down to Doha,” he said. “We have strong riders who want to go to Doha, so we’ll see which three will go depending on their horses.”
Miami Glory have moved up to 4th place overall after finishing second today. Yesterday Miami featured the first all-Irish line-up in the competition, when Cian O’Connor (Skyhorse) and Denis Lynch (RMF Bella Baloubet) had 5 and 4 faults respectively. Today it was Lynch on RMF Echo and Scott Brash (Hello Forever) who represented Miami and both went clear.
Although too far behind the leaders to hope for an overall victory in the competition, Miami have a chance of a third-place finish, as do St. Tropez Pirates who are currently third and Mexico Amigos who lie fifth after this latest round.
Later in the day Smolders claimed outright victory in the Global Champions Tour after a second-place finish in the Grand Prix on board Don VHP Z meant he cannot be overhauled in the final round in Doha. Victory in this round went to Sweden’s Evelina Tovek on Castello, with Ehning claiming third on Funky Fred.
Darragh Kenny, who didn’t jump for Paris Panthers in today’s team competition, was best of the Irish in the Grand Prix with a tenth-place finish on Team de Coquerie.
Global Champions League
Overall standings after round 14 Rome
(Irish squad members in brackets)
1. Hamburg Diamonds 295
2. Valkenswaard United (Bertram Allen) 278
3. St. Tropez Pirates 231
4. Miami Glory (Denis Lynch/Cian O’Connor) 227.5
5. Mexico Amigos 225
6. London Knights 196
7. Doha Fursan Qatar 196
8. Rome Gladiators 192
9. Shanghai Swans 190
10. Paris Panthers (Darragh Kenny) 183
11. Madrid In Motion 173
12. Cannes Stars 169
13. Vienna Eagles 166
14. Chantilly Pegasus 162
15. Cascais Charms 154
16. Berlin Lions 131
17. Monaco Aces 129
18. Moscow Bears 82.50