Irish riders are set for a nail-biting Saturday showdown in Monaco as the latest round of the Global Champions League concludes.

Only one fence separates the top 11 teams after Thursday’s first phase in which there were Irish clears from Mark McAuley with Miebello for Montreal Diamonds and Shane Breen on Ipswich van de Wolfsakker for Miami Celtics.

McAuley’s teammate Harrie Smolders also went clear riding Cas to leave Montreal one of five teams on zero faults.

Six teams are on four faults including the Miami outfit for whom Denis Lynch had four faults on RMF Bella Baloubet. Also on four faults are Bertram Allen’s Valkenswaard United, the Irish rider collecting the faults on Izzy By Picobello while colleague Alberto Zorzi got home intact on Fair Light van T Heike.

Madrid In Motion are fractionally further back on five faults which were picked up by Michael G. Duffy on Castlefield Rubinus. Maikel van der Vleuten kept the team score down with a clear on Ida Utopia.

For Saturday’s contest the only line-up change to teams involving Irish riders is that Michael Duffy will jump for Miami Celtics in place of Denis Lynch, who will jump as an individual rider in the contest which doubles as the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix qualifier.

Duffy will partner Egalini with whom he netted third place in Friday’s Monte Carlo Casino Trophy after a ten-way jump-off in which only three jumped clear, although none did so within the time allowed of 36 seconds. Closest to the target was Britain’s Michael Whitaker on Valmy de la Lande who got home in 36.04, overtaking his older brother John riding Argento who had led with a time of 36.41. Duffy was the last rider to leave all the poles standing and looked a threat to the leaders but the clock showed 36.60 as he crossed the line.

Mike Dunne

Global Champions League team faults after first phase Monaco (concluding phase takes place on Saturday)

0 New York Empire/Scandinavian Vikings/Rome Gladiators/Prague Lions/Montreal Diamonds
4 London Knights/Hamburg Giants/Valkenswaard United/Miami Celtics/Berlin Eagles/St. Tropez Pirates
5 Madrid In Motion
8 Chantilly Pegasus/Monaco Aces/Cascais Charms
9 Paris Panthers
12 Doha Fursan Qatar
16 Shanghai Swans/Cannes Stars