Harrie Smolders: The Most Consistent GCT Grand Prix Rider

Photo by Longines Global Champions Tour

By Kim Falkena

The Longines Global Champions Tour (GCT) sets the stage for the world’s best riders. Besides the team competition (Global Champions League), there is also the individual competition. This year, 15 GCT competitions were held at beautiful and unique locations around the world, such as the league in Paris which is held in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower. The last GCT competition of the season took place in Samorin, Slovakia where the GCT winner was announced. Hippomundo looked at the performance of the horses and riders who took part in the competition in a slightly different way.

Most clear rounds in Grand Prix events

Riders must qualify to compete in the Grand Prix. The 35 best competitors of the second round of the Global Champions League go through to the Grand Prix. 

Of the 15 GCT competitions, two horses managed to complete the Grand Prix course without incurring penalties a total of four times. Harrie Smolders’ mount Monaco was the first to achieve this. Monaco is a son of Cassini II out of a mother by Contender. During the Grand Prix of Hamburg the breeding product of Ralf Lütje was the only one who finished clear within the time allowed and therefore claimed victory. This combination also finished third in the Grand Prix of Rome week one, fourth in the Grand Prix of St Tropez and fifth in the GP of Samorin week two. Aboard Dolinn N.O.P., Harrie Smolders also rode a clear round in the Grand Prix of Valkenswaard. This adds up to five clear rounds in GCT Grand Prix for Harrie Smolders, which makes him the most consistent rider of this GCT season. Not only did Smolders ride the most clear rounds, he was also the rider to have the most top five finishes. With these great performances Smolders finished sixth in the overall ranking.

The second horse to jump four clear rounds in GCT Grand Prix is King Edward ridden by Henrik von Eckermann.  Having also made history at the Olympics by being the first horse ever not to drop a pole at the Olympics, King Edward impresses yet again. King Edward is a descendant of Edward 28 from the breeding farm of Wim Impens. King Edward won the last GCT Grand Prix in Samorin. The pair also picked up a second place in the Grand Prix of St. Tropez and a fifth place in the Grand Prix of Rome week one. All of this put Von Eckermann in second place in the overall rankings.

Christian Ahlmann also qualified for the jump-off four times, but did so with three different horses. Twice he crossed the finish line with a zero on the scoreboard accompanied by Clintrexo Z (by Clintissimo Z), once with Dominator 2000 Z (by Diamant de Semilly) and once with Mandato van de Neerheide (by Emerald). Christian Ahlmann also managed to qualify for the Grand Prix the most times, together with Edwina Tops-Alexander and Olivier Robert. Out of the 15 GCT competitions this trio managed to qualify for 12 Grand Prix. 

Peder Fredericson takes GCT title 2021

To have a chance at the overall title, the riders had to participate in at least eight of the 15 GCT competitions. Each competition earned them points, if one rider rode more than eight competitions, the lowest points were dropped. The overall title for the Global Champions Tour went to Swedish Olympic medalist Peder Fredericson with a big lead over number two Henrik von Eckermann. Peder Fredericson competed in ten GCT competitions of which he qualified for the Grand Prix eight times. He won the Grand Prix in St. Tropez and London in the saddle of Catch me Not S. The other six times he finished in the top 11, which earned him a total of 251 points and €232,500.

Photo by Longines Global Champions Tour

Frenchman Olivier Robert took third place in the final ranking after a strong season. Robert won the Grand Prix of Madrid with Vivaldi des Meneaux (by Chippendale Z) and during the second week in Rome with Vangog du Mas Garnier (by Cornet Obolensky).

To give young upcoming riders a chance, one of the rules of the team competition is that all teams have to include at least one U25 rider in their team. One young rider deserves a special mention and that is Spencer Smith. This talented 25 year old rider had a fantastic season at the Global Champions Tour. He finished ninth individually in the final ranking by winning the Grand Prix of Samorin week one with Theodore Manciais, the offspring of Kashmir van Schuttershof out of a mother by Power Light. Additionally, he finished third in the Grand Prix of Stockholm and fourth in the Grand Prix of Monaco with Quibelle, a breeding product of Jörn Masche. Quibelle is an offspring of FRH Quaid out of a Stakkato mother.

The two young Irishmen Michael Pender (22 years old) and Michael G Duffy (25 years old) also placed in the overall GCT ranking. They finished 15th and 17th respectively.

This story is made available to The Plaid Horse by the data at Hippomundo, the online source for breeding and sport dataHippomundo’s mission is to establish one central database in order to bring the necessary transparency to the equestrian world and to make life easier for people in the horse industry. To dive deeper into the data, subscribe to one of their available memberships.