Paris Panthers continue to fight back with pole position in GCL Monaco
Fresh from their win under the Eiffel Tower last weekend, Paris Panthers have kickstarted their overall ranking comeback with a flawless double clear in Monaco from Darragh Kenny and Ioli Mytilineou.
In an edge of the seat first round of GCL competition Kenny and Mytilineou just piped ranking leaders Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses pairing of Lily Attwood and Olivier Philippaerts to the post, finishing ahead by just over a second. The only other team to go double clear was St Tropez Pirates duo of mid-season signing Emeric George and young talent Michael Pender.
A strong result from Paris Panthers this weekend could put them back in the running to a top 4 finish for the second half of the season, boosting their chances of reaching the GCL Super Cup Finals as the remaining events unfold.
Talking about Saturday’s showdown, Kenny said: "We don’t want to change too much for Saturday, we both have good horses and we have been in this position before so hopefully, we can just hold on to the lead. The settings for these shows are absolutely amazing, this global league [GCL] is becoming one of the most popular things in show jumping and it is just getting more and more exciting."
U25 rider Ioli Mytilineou explained: "I certainly hope we can win again this year. Darragh told me before we went in that they won here in Monaco last year so no pressure but I think he meant there was pressure so I am glad we pulled it off and hopefully we can do it again on Saturday. I needed to give my mare a bit of confidence in this round, it is the biggest class she has ever done so I didn’t think about the others and just had to do what I needed to do."
As the sun set over Monaco’s Port Hercule, the floodlights came on as VIPs and spectators flocked to the unique set-up, where the top athletes in show jumping took centre stage next to super yachts, moored just metres from the red carpet. Mrs Charlotte Casiraghi of Monaco and Diane Fissore, president of Jumping Monaco, presented the awards in the prize giving on the first day of show jumping action.
The compact arena offered up a flowing but technical 1.55m course set by Uliano Vizzani for the first round of action.
First to go Lily Attwood for Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses had the unenviable task of finding the perfect path around the twisting course. Opting for a steady clear, the young talent piloted top mare Calvaro's Up to Date to perfection, containing her bouncy canter and leaving all the poles up. Teammate Olivier Philippaerts had to secure another clear with H&M Legend of Love to be in with a chance of extending their overall championship lead on Saturday - he did exactly this shaking the rest of the field yet to come.
It was back-to-back double clears as next in the arena St Tropez Pirates' Emeric George on Diesel Gp du Bois Madame and Michael Pender on HHS Fast Forward pulled out faultless rounds to shoot them up the leaderboard but finished in a slower time than the Hearts.
The final double clear of the day came from pole sitters Paris Panthers after lightning-fast rounds from Darragh Kenny and Ioli Mytilineou onboard Volnay du Boisdeville and La Perla vd Heffinck rocketed last week's winners to the top giving them the biggest advantage on Saturday.
2021 Championship winners, Valkenswaard United, who are currently 6th in the overall rankings started their comeback mission with vengeance to finish in 4th place today. A solid clear from U25 rider Gilles Thomas with Feromas van Beek Z and just an unlucky one down for Edwina Tops-Alexander on Fellow Castlefield put them as the only team to finish on 4 faults and a chance to gain every valuable point possible in the remainder of the season.
Maikel van der Vleuten pulled off an impressive clear for Madrid In Motion with the energetic Elwikke leaping and bounding her way around the arena after a shock run out from father Eric van der Vleuten and Dreamland put the pair on a shock 15 faults.
Team tactics clearly came into play for Cannes Stars with a steady clear to start from Isabella Russekoff. She was swiftly backed up by Jens Backman with a single rail and time fault keeping them at the sharp end of the grid. There was disappointment for the Berlin Eagles who fielded Eoin McMahon on Chakra and Philipp Weishaupt with Happy Time and each had one pole down on the same line.
So it would be the Paris Panthers who start their campaign to rise back up the order, taking pole position as last to go in the GCL Monaco round 2. However, with 3 teams all on a zero score, the action will be right down to the wire to see who will claim this win in the spectacular Monte-Carlo arena.