John Whitaker and Bertram Allen take the first Global Champions League

Cheerleaders, high energy signature tunes for each team of two, a lively atmosphere and high octane competition – the Global Champions League was spectacularly launched in Miami.

As Team Valkenswaard United, John Whitaker – the oldest in the competition at 60 – and Bertram Allen – the youngest at 20 – proved an unbeatable match and claimed the inaugural competition.

It went to the wire. John and Bertram had posted a round one zero score and were well in contention, just behind the Miami Glory pairing of Kent Farrington and Georgina Bloomberg after round one. John jumped another clear on Old Lodge’s Cassini II 12-year-old Lord of Arabia and Kent had a rail down on Creedance.

But an early rail down for Bertram and the 12-year-old Quiet Easy 4 (Quidam’s Rubin/Zapateado) put their lead in jeopardy despite Bertram taking risks with tight turns and a galloping pace. Time was everything now as the times were combined for the final score.

They crossed the line at an incredible pace to put pressure on last-to-go Georgina Bloomberg, who had to produce a clear in a fast time to win for her Miami Glory team-mate Kent Farrington and the Lord Z nine-year-old Creedance. She set off at the gallop and the 12-year-old Caleno 3 responded valiantly and they looked to be in contention, but it was not to be, and a late rail down dropped them to third.

The Antwerp Diamonds Team of Harrie Smolders on the Up To Date/Ferro 10-year-old Bokai and Audrey Coulter with Alex, an Arpeggio 12-year-old, took second, five sec behind the winners.

“It’s a great competition, it keeps it close and interesting, but it was nerve-wracking when Bertram had the second fence down,” said John, who didn’t waste all the champagne and managed to take a sip or two during the now traditional GCT spraying contest at the presentation.

“I knew I had to put the pressure on and go fast, and luckily he [Quiet Easy] is a naturally fast horse,” said Bertram.

The Rome Gladiators – Laura Renwick on MHS Washington and Laura Kraut with Cavalia – finished in ninth on a total of 13 with the Shangai Swans (Ben Maher with Aristo Z and Janne Friederike Meyer on Chuck) took eighth on a team total of 14 following an uncharacteristic run-out by Aristo in round one.

The teams at the launch of the Global Champions League

Photos © LGCT/Stefano Grasso