Miami Celtic Win The Longines Champion’s League in Prague

While the world looked on at Qatar for the start of the football World Cup over the weekend; the main equine international competition this week was staged at the O2 Arena in Prague for the final of the Longines Champions League for showjumping. The qualifying rounds of the Equine World Cup took a break before returning to Madrid next week.

The Global Champions League is not something that Horseview have said much about in the past. Basically, there are teams of three members in each team, not necessarily from the same country who compete as a team in up to nineteen venues. The rules for the L G C L are long and complicated, but basically each team, of which there can be no more than twenty teams, elect a pool of six riders eligible to ride each of the rounds. The team members have to be ranked in the top 250 on the FEI showjumping rankings list. One of the aims of the L G C L is to encourage young riders into international competition and to try to achieve this, each team must include one young rider, (a rider who under 25 years of age.) Each team will appoint their own manager to organise the needs of each team at the venues. At each venue, there are at least two and usually three rounds and the winning team is the team who have accumulated the least number of faults when all the rounds of each team members are added together. Unlike many FEI competitions, there is no discard score. If two teams, let’s say end with just 4 faults each when added together, the times of each team member, when added together will count.

The O2 Prague Arena – venue to 2022 L G C L

This year Prague staged the finals of this team competition and there were twelve teams and thirty six combinations forward jumping in the quarter finals. All the courses for this final weekend of the Longines Global League, were set by Uliano Vezzani from Italy who was the course designer for most of the rounds in 2022.

The first round was a speed round consisting of fifteen jumping efforts in a time allowed of 72 seconds. The winners were The Paris Panthers consisting Gregory Wathelet from Belgium, Ben Maher from the Great Britain and Harrie Smolders from the Netherlands. They finished the round with a total of just one fence down and collectively 198.19 seconds. The second team were The Madrid in Motion team who had a total of two fences down between them and a total time of 199.10 seconds. The team members were Jack Whitaker from Great Britain, Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli from Brazil and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar from Spain. Third in this class were The Istanbul Sultans.

In the semi finals, all the teams all went again, this time in similar class which had only one round.  There was an extra fence added to the course and a new time allowed of 77 seconds. This time, the Istanbul Sultans finished at the bottom of the table with their third place from the first round taken by The Miami Celtics, a team made up of Bertram Allen, Michael Duffy, both from Ireland and Edouard Schmitz from Switzerland. They ended the class with 12 faults and 216.57 seconds. The second team were the Madrid in Motion team once again with the same members as in round one. They finished with 8 faults in a total time of 216.30 seconds. The winners of this semi final round were Valkenswaard United comprising of Marcus Ehning and Andre Thieme from Germany and John Whitaker from Great Britain. They won with just 4 faults and in the collective time of 223.28 seconds. The Paris Panthers came seventh in this round dropping from the winner’s podium in round one.

The final podium with Miami Celtic team in the middle having won the league

The Longines Champions League Final had only six of the original twelve teams as the six worst scoring teams in the first two rounds were eliminated. This was a two round competition over 410 meters with 15 jumping efforts required and a time allowed of 71 seconds. All the remaining teams jumped both rounds and the course was the same for both rounds. The first to go was an all-German team including Ludger Beerbaum – the Berlin Eagles. They ended the class in fourth place with a total of 20 faults in the first round in 192.70 seconds. In the second round they collected just 4 more faults with a final time of 187.84 seconds. Winners of the third place on the podium were the Shanghai Swans – a team comprising of Christian Ahlmann from Germany, Max Kuhner from Austria and Martin Fuchs from Switzerland. They finished round one with just 4 faults, but added a further 12 in the second. The first round took the team collectively 198.21 seconds while in round two they completed in 190.83. Valkenswaard United stood as runner’s up with just 12 faults collected during both rounds. In the first round, the three riders completed the course in 200.82 seconds and 196.69 in the second. The winners were the predominantly Irish team – the Miami Celtics. They also finished on an accumulated score of 12 faults, but they achieved this in a shorter time than the Valkenswaard United team. In the first round, the Miami Celtics competed in 197.58 seconds and the winning time in the second round was 190.98 seconds.

The final two teams to qualify for the final round were Madrid in Motion, the team which was second in the quarter finals. They came fifth in this final, and the last team, coming sixth were the Prague Lions, a team comprising of Piter Devos from Belgium, Anna Kellnerova from Czech Republic and finally a second Belgian – Niels Bruynseels. The prize money put up by Air Bank was a massive 4.5 million euros.

images courtesy world showjumping

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