Cannes Stars triumph in GCL opening leg at Al Shaqab

Cannes Stars triumph in GCL opening leg at Al Shaqab

Alkass Digital

Cannes Stars triumphed in the opening round of the 2024 Global Champions League season under the lights at Al Shaqab on Friday. This historic victory not only marks their dominance in the team series but makes history as the first all-female team of six riders to lead the championship race.

In a thrilling showdown, the Cannes Stars propelled to victory, led by the stellar performances of Sophie Hinners aboard Iron Dames Singclair, Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann with Messi van ‘t Ruytershof, and Sanne Thijssen riding Con Quidam RB. The squad’s impeccable form led them to finish with just four faults after two rounds, clinching the win with a breathtakingly quick performance, two seconds ahead of their closest competitors, Mexico Amigos.

An emotional Meyer-Zimmermann said: “I am lost for words. We are just so happy. It was great teamwork. We have a huge team around us. Also this weekend we have the race for the drivers so now we can also give our support to them.”

Thijssen added: “This weekend it’s the first time for us competing as a team together for the Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames. The team is unbelievably motivated. We support each other and I think today we pushed each other to the limit and that’s how we got this result. I had a good feeling already yesterday with Con Quidam and today we gave it our all. I am looking forward to the following competitions together with the other Iron Dames.”

Mexico Amigos, fielded a formidable lineup of Mouda Zeyada on If Looks Could Kill O.H. delivering a flawless double clear across the two rounds, Nadja Peter Steiner with Jappeloup clear in round 2 kept them on just four faults from Mike Kawai riding Saxo de la Cour in round 1. However, it was the Cannes Stars’ electrifying pace that secured their victory.

After looking for a double clear all last season Mouda Zeyada was delighted: “I am relatively new to the league, last year being my first year was a learning curve, but the events sure improved my horse a lot, and now look where we are at. Nadja rode incredibly, also on a green horse, Mike also did a great job in the first round,” he said.

Last year’s champions, Riesenbeck International clinched the final podium spot, with Christian Kukuk and Philipp Schulze Topphoff executing a strategic horse change between rounds to secure valuable points with a third place as the fastest team on 8 faults.

The drama intensified as the two final teams, Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses and Valkenswaard United, both on a clean sheet going into round 2, faced off in a high-stakes battle. With both teams vying for a podium finish, every jump was crucial. The pressure was on as they only had a rail in hand to Cannes Stars but a pole down from both Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Indiana and Olivier Perreau riding Gl Events Dorai d’Aiguilly knocked them off the podium to finish in fourth.

In pole position leading after round 1, Valkenswaard United just needed to keep all the fences up, and a win in the first stage of the season was theirs. Marcus Ehning and Stargold delivered the goods with a fast clear. However, a nail-biting turn of events for show jumping legend John Whitaker and Equine America Unick du Francport. Anything can happen in show jumping, and Whitaker proved that on Friday with Equine America Unick du Francport napping early on the course, costing him crucial time and collecting 21 faults overall, relinquishing their lead and ultimately handing the victory to the Cannes Stars.

The home team, Doha Falcons took home sixth place after a clear round from Rashid Towaim Ali al-Marri and Concordess Nrw, but an unlucky pole in each round from Wilm Vermeir and Simon Delestre kept the home team off the podium.