Michael Duffy and William Whitaker joined forces as the Miami Celtics to take second in the first leg of the Global Champions League in the beautiful setting of Chantilly – the French ‘Capital of the Horse’.
The Berlin Eagles partnership of Ludger Beerbaum (Cool Feeling) and Christian Kukuk (Limoncello NT) swooped into the top spot with 3.52 sec to spare with the Celtics hoping to keep their dream of taking the championship lead alive.
"I like the big grass arena and Chantilly is one of my favourite shows. But that doesn't mean it will help us win! Until now in the season we’ve had several good days but we’ve not had two great days, so I hope tomorrow evening we will be celebrating," said Ludger.
First to enter the ring and as the pathfinder for today’s competition was under 25 rider of the London Knights Emily Moffitt with top gelding Winning Good. The fast-moving 10-year-old horse powered around the arena, Emily keeping him well in check to complete the course clear and take 13th in the individual speed competition. Nicola Philippaerts won the LGCT Grand Prix of Chantilly last year aboard top stallion H&M Chilli Willi, and once again brought out his 11-year-old superstar for this leg of the Championship. But they were a little flat into the first double, the first vertical punched out and adding four to the team score. They would finish the rest of the course clear keeping the Knights on a score of four overall and seventh spot.
Bronislav Chudyba was first to take up the reins with Lester IX, the bay gelding clearing the fences with an expressive flick of his tail. They produced a foot-perfect clear, with Bronislav punching his fist in delight after they crossed the finish line. Next to go for the team Michael Whitaker had a tougher ride on the nine-year-old grey For Fun, Michael working hard to keep the mare steady and in a flowing rhythm. But the final part of the LGCT double came down, and a time fault gave the Falcons a costly five faults to drop them to eighth.
Christian elected to ride his top stallion Limonchello NT for this round of action. Despite the horse sometimes drifting to and after the fences, Christian held him steady and the pair finished clear, passing the pressure to their teammate and compatriot Ludger. Never one to crack under pressure, Ludger looked focused as he cantered his 11-year-old Cool Feeling round to the first fence. The pair kept a steady pace, the athletic horse curling over the fences to leave them up, and it paid off - the Eagles would post the first double clear of the day and shoot into the lead.
Ranking challengers Miami Celtics knew a good weekend at this point in the Championship could see their dream of taking the overall lead come true. First to go was under 25 rider Michael Duffy with Mullaghdrin Touch The Stars, the big striding horse flying over the fences. With an effort over the final Liverpool oxer, they delivered a clear to also take 12th in the individual competition, passing the reins to William Whitaker. William brought out another big striding stallion RMF Cadeau de Muze, the horse naturally slower but William taking the shortest route possible around the track. They kept it clear, finishing on a zero score but behind the Eagles on time and also finished 15th in the individual speed with the steadiest clear.
Final team to go New York Empire fielded Scott Brash first with Hello Senator, with teammate and owner Georgina Bloomberg watching on. But the second part of the GCL double fell, four added to the team score today. Teammate Spencer Smith would ride Theodore Manciais and they would pull off yet another clear for the team, keeping the Empire team in touch of a potential podium tomorrow with sixth place.
William claimed sixth place in the opening 5* class with RMF Charly. Fifty-two contended this 1.45m speed class with William and the Clearway 10-year-old finishing 1.77 sec behind the winner, Switzerland’s Pius Schwizer on Balou Rubin R. Ellen Whitaker was right behind her cousin in seventh on the 10-year-old Jack Van’t Katteheye
Ellen and William also featured in the seven-year-old 1.35m speed, Ellen taking fourth on Jessica Crane’s Hulahupe JR (VDL Bubalu/Indoctro) 3.42 sec behind the pace and William slotted Mr Cash into ninth.
Lucinda Roche guided Izar LB into second in the 1* 1.35m two-phase, the 10-year-old finishing more than three sec off the pace. Four faults in the second phase dropped Tess Carmichael and Berlin’s Kojak down to ninth in the 24-strong class.
Tess posted a double clear in the 1* 1.25m two-phase to take 13th on the Casall seven-year-old Chisinau W Z more than eight sec behind the winner.
Sarah Barker guided Vifdeva into 14th in the 75-horse 2* 1.35m speed. And an easy double clear in the 1.15m two-phase put Natasha Dunsdon and NN Celine into 16th.
Text and Photos © Jumping Around