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John Whitaker: ‘Tense and thrilling – a terrific spectacle’


  • John Whitaker shares his views on a showjumping format that breaks the mould

    I used to be competing on the Prague Playoffs final week, the place the Longines International Champions Tour (LGCT) season attracts to an in depth with the Tremendous Grand Prix and the GCL (International Champions League) group collection concludes with the Tremendous Cup knockout event.

    The entire weekend is a good spectacle, with huge crowds packed into the O2 Enviornment and big prize cash. I rode there final 12 months having certified for the Tremendous Grand Prix, however this was the primary time I’d ridden in Prague as a part of a GCL group within the Tremendous Cup.

    I’ve been on the Valkenswaard United squad this season and we’ve had our ups and downs, however the spotlight undoubtedly was teaming up with Marcus Ehning to win in Hamburg.

    The highest 4 groups from the season standings robotically qualify straight by means of to Friday’s semi-finals, whereas the 12 decrease ranked groups must compete first in Thursday’s quarter-finals – so it’s a knockout event till you’re left with the highest six groups battling it out in Sunday’s closing.

    Whereas all through the season there are two riders in every group, it goes as much as three riders in Prague and, with no discard rating, each spherical has to rely and every group’s riders soar consecutively – all of which makes it very tense and actually thrilling.

    Nevertheless, you may as well see how simply it might probably all go incorrect – in Thursday’s quarter-finals, the Cannes Stars group had been eradicated after their second rider Jens Baackmann set off earlier than the bell – one thing that is very easy to do, particularly when it’s noisy. You don’t at all times hear the bell. So poor Sameh El Dahan, the group’s third rider, got here all the best way from Eire to Prague and didn’t get to leap a single fence.

    Pleasure builds at knockout levels

    Thankfully for Valkenswaard United – which consisted of Marcus, the reigning European champion André Thieme and myself, with Edwina Tops-Alexander supporting us from the sidelines – we completed excessive sufficient to qualify for Friday’s semi-finals which we then gained. In order that was a unbelievable end result, taking us by means of as one of many high six groups for Sunday’s Tremendous Cup Ultimate.

    Apparently, Ludger Beerbaum, who had certified to leap in Saturday’s Tremendous Grand Prix, withdrew and elected to avoid wasting his high mare Mila for the Berlin Eagles within the GCL Tremendous Cup Ultimate the next day. He’s closely invested within the group and all of the riders are from his stables, so I feel he figured it was extra profitable to go for the group competitors and forfeit his place in Saturday’s class. After all, it didn’t fairly work out for him and the group completed fourth, but it surely’s a little bit of a disgrace the 2 competitions are on consecutive days, so you want to have an excellent second horse so as to contest each.

    Daniel Deusser’s win within the Tremendous Grand Prix with Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z was unbelievable to look at. The format for the Tremendous Grand Prix and Tremendous Cup Ultimate differs from what’s normally seen within the sport – each are held over two full rounds, with the second spherical counting for time. It feels completely totally different using a full course – 12 fences – in opposition to the clock. Nevertheless it definitely makes it very attention-grabbing.

    Subsequent cease, London Worldwide

    Equine America Unick Du Francport jumped exceptionally properly on Sunday for a double clear – there have been huge jumps and troublesome traces all weekend set by Uliano Vezzani. We completed second, simply separated by the winners Miami Celtics on time, but it surely was very thrilling because it all got here all the way down to the ultimate rider of the night.

    I took the horses straight from Prague to the CSI4* in Stockholm and now we’ve a few weeks earlier than the London Worldwide Horse Present, which is at all times one we sit up for. I can’t wait to be again.

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    • This unique column can even be obtainable to learn in Horse & Hound journal, on sale Thursday 1 December

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