Valkenswaard United Cement Their Place At Top of Thrilling Championship Race With Win in GCL Rome

Photo: GCL

The iconic pairing of Peder Fredricson and Edwina Tops-Alexander kept cool heads under extreme pressure today in the dramatic GCL of Rome second round to catapult into the top spot after delivering flawless clear rounds onboard H&M All In and Fellow Castlefield.

Set in the ancient Circus Maximus today’s down-to-the-wire competition saw Scandinavian Vikings strong team of Evelina Tovek with consistent Winnetou de la Hamente Z and Henrik von Eckermann on his Olympic Champion King Edward secure second place. New York Empire rounded off the podium in the heart of Rome as Denis Lynch riding Cristello and Shane Breen on Z7 Ipswich delivered blistering times.

Speaking after their win Peder Fredricson said: “I am really happy, we really needed this win and it feels good. It was good today so for the last two stages we will do the same and stick with this team.”

Edwina Tops-Alexander then smiled: “We are back in business. It is amazing to be riding with Peder in the team and we have a wonderful squad. I did a safe clear round today because I knew he was very fast and slick as always. I played it safe and I knew we just had to be clear and put more pressure on the riders behind us.

Going into today’s competition the Championship race had never been tighter with just 7 points separating the top three teams Valkenswaard United, Shanghai Swans and Paris Panthers. After the 13th stage of the season, Valkenswaard United have now stormed ahead with 277 points giving them 21 point margin on the Shanghai Swans who sit on 256 points in second.  Still in the race, 3 points behind on 253 are the Paris Panthers leaving it all to play for in the doubleheader of Šamorín.  

First to go Monaco Aces had to have a good result today if they wanted to climb back into the top four teams on the overall season standings that fast track through to the GCL Super Cup Semi-Finals at the GC Prague Playoffs. An early fault from Jeanne Sadran and her fresh horsepower of Vannan plus two others put them on the back foot straight away. Julien Epaillard gave it everything he could on Calgary Tame but the team total of 36 faults cost them their place in the top 4 straight away.

Fighting hard to enter the top three battle but also needing to finish ahead of Monaco Aces the London knights pairing of Emily Moffitt and Douglas Lindelow carried forward 20 faults into round 2. Moffit and Bacara d’Archonfosse knocked two poles and picked up a time fault. After the first fence fell for Lindelow and Casquo Blue there was no margin for error around the rest of the course. They finished on a team total of 30 putting them out of the Championship title race but keeping them just inside the top 4.

It was only a shock elimination for the Cannes Stars as Seven Schlusselburg and Viceversa de la Roque after a refusal at fence one meant the Aces and Knights were helped to pick up a few more crucial points by not finishing last.

Team anchor Harrie Smolders travelled to Rome just for the team competition pairing up alongside U25 rider Eve Jobs. With all the pressure on first to go the young gun’s shoulders, Jobs looked set for a sensational clear until the front rail of the Longines double fell adding 4 to the board. Riding his first round this weekend Smolders and Monaco jumped out of their skin delivered the clear giving the Shanghai Swans an 8 fault margin and proving why he is a key member of the team once again.

Last week’s winners Shanghai Swans had world-class firepower with Malin Baryard-Johnsson bringing out her top mare H&M Indiana once again. It wasn’t their day as they had four faults in the last line again before handing over to teammate Pius Schwizer. Schwizer also had one down with Karel VDB bringing it all down to the time and giving Valkenswaard United a 12 fault margin.

Scandinavian Vikings were the first team to ride a double clear in Rome. Evelina Tovek and Winnetou de la Hamente Z kept it smooth but tight to finish in a respectable time much to the delight of team manager and rider Gier Gulliksen on the kiss and cry. But it was the lightning-fast combination of Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward that took all the risks producing a double clear and setting the Vikings sailing for their first podium of the year.

The Berlin Eagles have joined in on the tense race to finish inside the top four overall. Going into today with an unconventional score of 5 faults they were sitting in no man’s land, therefore, they could afford a time fault but one down mean they were immediately down the order. The all female team of Laura Klaphake with Quinn and Jane Richard Philips riding Fouego de la Closiere finished couldn’t make it work finishing on a team total of 14 faults but crucially ahead of the Monaco Aces to slide them into 5th in the season championship standings.

Current ranking leaders Valkenswaard United fielded their strongest team possible once again with Peder Fredricson on H&M All In and Edwina Tops-Alexander with the consistent Fellow Castlefield. Fredricson powered around the arena making all the inside turns look easy to stop the clock in a blistering time and secure the all important clear. Tops-Alexander opted for a steadier approach, the team tactic paid off leaving all the jumps up inside the time and forcing the remaining teams to go clear.

The penultimate team to go New York Empire have not managed to land on the podium yet this year. Denis Lynch had an unlucky fence down with Cristello but a flawless clear from Shane Breen and Z7 Ipswitch saw the team fly onto the podium and  

Last to go Cascais Charms handed Valkenswaard United the win after the fences kept falling which has also secured them a definite podium position in the overall season standings and a fast track through to the semi-finals in the GCL Super Cup. Every single fence that fell today proved crucial in the battle to secure the season title and for a second week running no team finished on a clean sheet. The Championship battle now heads to Šamorín for a double header from 15 – 17 & 21 – 23 October where the Final stage of the season will also be held and the champion of champions will be crowned.