The London Knights have today catapulted themselves into the overall GCL ranking lead after a phenomenal win today from Ben Maher and Explosion W and Martin Fuchs with Chaplin at GCL Cascais, Estoril.
After their sublimely quick combined time today, the Knights heaped the pressure on the teams to follow in this thrilling competition, storming to an untouchable win after playing to their team’s strengths. In a dramatic turn of fortunes, the Knights have charged to the top of the leaderboard, now with a score of 172 points overall. But the Shanghai Swans will undoubtably be looking for vengeance, as they sit just two points behind the 2018 title holders on 170 points overall. Another strong result for Madrid in Motion today see the team move to 162 points, and third in the Championship standings.
The Knights took the win today in Portugal, finishing ahead of Valkenswaard United’s Marcus Ehning with Comme Il Faut and Bertram Allen with Molly Malone V, and the Paris Panthers who claimed third today after a strong performance from Darragh Kenny with Classic Dream and Gregory Wathelet with Mjt Nevados S.
Ben Maher said “We have had a great season but have had a few weeks that didn’t go as we wanted. But we have momentum now, with the right horses and right riders, so hopefully this is the change in our season."
Martin Fuchs agreed that the team had a plan and really utilised their team’s strengths today. "We both had good and quick horses, so we wanted to put the pressure on the others."
Ben agreed that pressure on those to follow had been the Knights’ tactics: "I knew I’d be a little slower than Martin today, which is why I went first today. That was the game-plan - to put enough pressure on the others to force mistakes."
Frank Rothenberger’s course saw the riders and horses galloping the full length of the grass arena, with some questioning distances and plenty for the riders to think about. The course had thirteen obstacles, with 15 efforts, includina double combination set down the VIP hospitality, a roll back to the GC vertical set away from the in-gate before another Longines double.
The Miami Celtics decided to switch the order of their riders, with William Whitaker first to go with RMF Cadeau de Muze this time. The British rider had to work hard to the GC Prague Playoffs plank, holding the eleven year old bay stallion to make the four strides. But there was heartache as the final vertical fell, another four on the board for the team. U25 rider Harry Charles piloted ABC Quantum Cruise to a brilliant clear, the Celtics suffering from the time fault collected in the first round on Thursday and finishing this leg with 9 faults for ninth.
London Knights team anchor and manger Ben Maher kept his 10 year old gelding Explosion W for this round of action, the Knights the first of four teams on a zero score to start today. Ben set off at a gallop with Explosion, taking the inside turn to fence three and daring the chestnut horse to the fences - keeping the momentum throughout. They took an extra stride to the final fence, the delicate vertical and came home clear, and fast. Martin Fuchs made a horse change to top stallion Chaplin, another naturally quick horse. They took a tight turn to the GC vertical roll back, but cleared it, powering to the Longines double. They flew down the final line to finish, clear and the team an impressive 15 seconds faster than closest rivals so far Madrid in Motion. This would heap the pressure on the teams yet to follow - could they better the Knights’ formidable time, or would they crumble under pressure and have a fence.
Ben finished fourth in the speed class running concurrently with the League just behind third-placed Michael Duffy and Mullaghdrin Touch the Stars. Switzerland's Martin Fuchs took the win on Chaplin from Germany's Marcus Ehning's Comme Il Faut. Emily Moffitt steered Tipsy Du Terral into eighth and Harry Charles was also clear for 15th on ABC Quantum Cruise.
Text © Jumping Around & Photo © LGCT/Stefano Grasso