New York, N.Y. – Sept. 27, 2019 – Day one of the first edition of the Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) New York kicked off Friday with the best horses and riders in the world flocking to Governors Island to compete. Highlighting the day was the first round of the Global Champions League (GCL) portion of competition, which also allowed athletes to contest the 1.50m CSI5* class individually. With the Manhattan skyline looking over the impressive venue, Ben Maher (GBR) and Poden Farm’s Explosion W topped the class as the fastest pair, in addition to taking the leading spot in the GCL team competition with the London Knights alongside Martin Fuchs (SUI) as they head into Saturday’s finals.
Competing over Uliano Vezzani’s (ITA) meticulously designed course, featuring brand new and flashy New York-themed standards, the 48 competitors were tested on their speed and carefulness in the one-round competition. With the first 32 riders competing for their respective teams and the remaining competing individually, each athlete’s individual score also counted for the lion’s share of prize money for the day.
First to go in the order was Fuchs and his 2019 European Champion partner Clooney 51. The pair set the bar high for his remaining competitors by putting in a clear round with a swift time of 69.13 seconds. However, as a part of the London Knights, Maher entered the ring directly after with the 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Explosion W, to take the lead after stopping the timers at 64.49 seconds. With 46 competitors left to come, it seemed as though the leaderboard was wide open. However, Maher would hold the top spot for the remainder of the class. Following his ride, many athletes and their mounts would come close to usurping Maher, with three competitors beating his time but ultimately falling victim to various rails.
Thirty-first in the order of go and competing with the home team, the New York Empire, Daniel Bluman (ISR) and Ladriano Z finished on a time of 65.19 seconds with zero faults to slide into the second place position. Despite 15 competitors remaining, Bluman would also hold on to his position to end the day in second place. Claiming the third position was Francois Mathy Jr (BEL) and Uno de la Roque after finishing on a time of 68.83 seconds.
Maher and Explosion W are a regular in the winner’s circle on the 2019 LGCT tour, having won two grand prix classes in London and during the season. Additionally, the pair walked away victorious during the 2019 European Championships in Rotterdam, finishing second individually behind London Knights’ teammate Fuchs and third in the team finals. Maher credits the gelding’s vast number of recent successes to his determination and work ethic.
Competition at LGCT New York will continue on Saturday, September 28, with the event’s highlight, the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of New York, starting at 4:00 p.m. EST. Additionally, with the London Knight currently leading the podium on zero faults, the Global Champions League final round will take place, starting at 12:30pm.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
Ben Maher – Individual Global Champions League first round winner
On his round:
“It was difficult being drawn so early – we were the first team and these classes are always hard because there is always a lot riding on the GCL for us this weekend. Our team has to win here to have a chance at winning the overall, so there is a lot of prize money at stake. It is also the first time Clooney and Explosion have teamed up together, after the European Championships, so it’s like the dream team at the moment. We had a game plan to go out pretty quick, hoping to get a good position for tomorrow, which fortunately we did. Explosion is such a naturally quick horse and we have a great relationship. At the moment things are going well and we are enjoying it.”
On Explosion W:
“He is the type of horse that works harder than other horses. He tends to go better when he is being used [so much] like this. I am very fortunate to have won the class but I don’t think I went as fast as he possibly could go because I had tomorrow in mind. As the class went on, a lot of horses did not jump clear rounds, which worked in my favor. He likes things to come up quick, he looks for the next jump and is a very intelligent horse and he has had a good style to what looks to be a long weekend. He is young but has seen the world twice over – more than most people in their lives. In the warm up ring he was bucking and leaping and playing – he is that type of horse and thrives on that energy.”
On Explosion W’s schedule after the European Championships:
“He took a few weeks off and then went to the Global Champions Tour in Rome where he did the grand prix. He then took another couple of weeks off and came here [to New York]. Then he will have a bit of a holiday until Prague. There is a lot riding on this weekend. I am thankful to Poden Farms for supporting me and hopefully this continues for the weekend.”
On showing in New York:
“I have been to NYC before but it is my first time jumping here. There is an incredible backdrop behind us and hopefully people come and support it over the weekend. It is not difficult to get here – you just jump on the ferry. It is great to be here and it is definitely a city that should be on the calendar for the global tour.”
Global Champions League First Round – Individual Results
Place / Horse / Rider / Country / Owner / Faults | Time
1. Explosion W / Ben Maher / GBR / Poden Farms / 0 | 64.49
2. Ladriano Z / Daniel Bluman / ISR / Blue Star Investments,Over The Top Stabes LLC, and Daniel Bluman / 0 | 65.19
3. Uno de la Roque / Francois Mathy Jr / BEL / Francois JR Mathy and Ingrid Norman / 0 | 68.83
4. Clooney 51 / Martin Fuchs / SUI / Luigi Baleri / 0 | 69.13
5. Cornado NRW / Marcus Ehning / GER / Nordrhein-Westfälisches Landgestüt / 0 | 69.77
6. H&M Indiana / Malin Baryard-Johnsson / SWE / Stuteri Arch / 0 | 70.04
7. Romeo 88 / Darragh Kenny / IRL / Ann Thompson / 0 | 70.71
8. Cinsey / Alberto Zorzi / ITA / Victory Equestrian Sport BV & A. On / 0 / 74.09
9. Calisto Blue / Daniel Deusser / GER / Kdw Horses Bvba-‘T Lozenhof Bvba / 0 | 74.30
10. Espoir / Pieter Devos / BEL / Devos Stables,Euro Equitation Bvba / 0 | 74.32
11. Beauville Z / Maikel van der Vleuten / NED / Marta Ortega Perez / 0 | 75.45
12. VDL Groep Miss Untouchable / Leopold van Asten / NED / Stoeterij Duyselshof B.V. / 0 | 75.47