Global Champions Tour begins: a new team for Ben Maher and other big name signings

  • The new LGCT (Longines Global Champions Tour) and GCL (Global Champions League) season kicks off this week (3-5 March) in Doha, Qatar, with a new destination for the Final, 21 riders switching Global Champions League squads, two debutant teams, 35 new riders, the highest ever number of female competitors and of course plenty of legendary names.

    In the Longines Global Champions tour, riders will be hoping to bag a golden ticket for the LGCT Super Grand Prix at the Prague Playoffs in November.

    “Every year the level of competition raises on our circuit,” says Global Champions founder and president Jan Tops. “We saw last year, Peder Fredricson, team Olympic champion and reserve Olympic champion winning the individual circuit. Riders have been preparing for this season for the past two months which means they want to win the championship a lot. It is already difficult to win one leg but to win the championship you have to have a unique horse or horses and a unique rider. Everybody is really focused to win the Longines Global Champions Tour and obviously, we cannot do it without the support of our partners during the year and especially Longines who has been with us for many years.”

    Having spent the off-season reshuffling and renewing contracts, 16 GCL teams of six riders, including at least one under-25, are lining up to contest the 2022 championship. The defending champions are Valkenswaard United, who have drafted in showjumping legend John Whitaker (pictured below) to their roster. However the pre-season favourites are the newly formed Stockholm Hearts Powered by H&M We Love Horses, who bring all four H&M riders – world number one Peder Fredricson, Malin Baryard-Johnsson and 2021 GCL Super Cup winners Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts, then competing for the London Knights, as well as young talent USA’s Lillie Keenan and Great Britain’s Lily Attwood.

    The reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher is one of the 21 riders to have switched allegiance, transferring from the London Knights to the Paris Panthers.

    The Panthers’ team manager Rob Hoekstra says: “I’m super delighted that Ben’s part of our team. Of course, it’s going to strengthen our team he’s one of the top rider combinations in the world at the moment with Explosion and several other very very good horses.”

    Jan Tops says of the GCL: “People are now seeing that the format and the League is really working and behind the scenes, people are trying to find the right riders to sign up. It has become like the soccer games where you get these teams working together to win overall. This year we have three new teams and you can see that the new format is really working which is going to be very important for equestrian sport in the future.”

    Where does the LGCT 2022 season take place?

    The first of the 17 events takes place at Al Shaqab in Doha, Qatar (3-5 March) with some big names in action including previous Longines Global Champions tour Doha winners Edwina Tops-Alexander, Scott Brash, Harrie Smolders and Marcus Ehning, as well as young talent Jack Whitaker, Jodie Hall McAteer, Mikey Pender, alongside leading names Shane Breen, Maikel van der Vleuten, Simon Delestre, Pieter Devos and Martin Fuchs.

    The rest of the season runs as follows:

    Miami Beach (14–16 April)
    Mexico City (28 April–1 May)
    Madrid (13–15 May)
    Ramatuelle/Saint Tropez (19–21 May)
    Hamburg (25–29 May)
    Cannes (2–4 June)
    Stockholm (17–19 June)
    Paris (24–26 June)
    Monaco (30 June–1 July)
    Berlin (TBC)
    London (19–21 August)
    Valkenswaard: 26–28 August
    Rome (1–4 September)
    New York (23–25 September)
    The Finals take place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (20–22 October)
    The GC Prague Playoffs are in Prague, Czech Republic (19–22 November)

    Who are the GCL defending champions?

    Valkenswaard United secured the 2021 GCL Championship in Samorin, Slovakia, while the London Knights were crowned champions of the third GCL Super Cup at the Prague Playoffs in November. Last year’s Super Cup Final offered €3.5 million in prize-money.

    What’s new in the GCL?

    A new time-fault rule comes into play this season which could completely change a team’s strategy.
    “The change is significant, it’s a huge change so now the time fault will become a very important part of the strategy and we know that especially the team competition sometimes the rider is going slowly to be sure of a clear for the team,” said sports director Marco Danese.

    Is there a Global Champions Tour live stream?

    You can watch the Longines Global Champions Tour season unfold on GCTV.

    Who are the GCL teams for 2022?

      The lowdown: a young squad of under-30 riders
      Jessica Springsteen (USA)
      Michael Duffy (IRL)
      Anthony Condon (IRL)
      Michael G Duffy (IRL)
      Bertram Allen (IRL)
      U25: Richard Vogel (GER)
      The lowdown: two new faces mixed with stellar names
      Pius Schwizer (SUI)
      Max Kuhner (AUT)
      Katrin Eckermann (GER)
      Alexandra Thornton (GB)
      Christian Ahlmann (GER)
      U25: Jeanne Sadran (FRA)
      The lowdown: one of the most successful teams in the GCL Super Cup featuring a father-and-son duo
      Eric van der Vleuten (NED)
      Maikel van der Vleuten (NED)
      Angelica Augustsson-Zanotelli (SWE)
      Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP)
      Mark McAuley (IRL)
      U25: Jack Whitaker (GB)
      The lowdown: fielding two U25 riders alongside some experienced stars
      Daniel Deusser (GER)
      Jerome Guery (BEL)
      Athina Onassis (GRE)
      Olivier Robert (FRA)
      U25: Michael Pender (IRL)
      U25: Adam Morgan (IRL)
      The lowdown: an exciting new cast for 2022 with a strong Dutch influence
      Bart Bles (NED)
      Jur Vrieling (NED)
      Simon Delestre (FRA)
      Linda Heed (SWE)
      Suus Kuyten (NED)
      U25: Sara Vingralkova (CZE)
      The lowdown: three new names and squad packed full of young talent
      Cian O’Connor (IRL)
      Sameh El Dahan (GB)
      Johnny Pals (NED)
      Jens Baackmann (GER)
      U25: Isabella Russekoff (USA)
      U25: Max Wachman (IRL)
      The lowdown: Geir “Jimmy” Gulliksen returns to the helm with a powerful team
      Geir Gulliksen (NOR)
      Yuri Mansur (BRA)
      Henrik von Eckermann (SWE)
      Evelina Tovek (SWE)
      Jordy van Massenhove (BEL)
      U25: Ingrid Gjelsten (NOR)
      The lowdown: have had a few seasons out of the spotlight but return with an all-new line-up featuring some new faces to the GCL circuit
      Edward Levy (FRA)
      Shane Breen (IRL)
      Fernando Martinez Sommer (MEX)
      Pieter Clemens (BEL)
      U25: Zoe Conter (BEL)
      U25: Nina Mallevaey (FRA)
      The lowdown: with the Olympic champion Ben Maher drafted in, team manager Rob Hoekstra heads into battle with a formidable army
      Gregory Wathelet (BEL)
      Harrie Smolders (NED)
      Darragh Kenny (IRL)
      Nayel Nassar (EGY)
      Ben Maher (GB)
      U25: Ioli Mytilineou (GRE)
      The lowdown: one of the strongest teams in 2021 under the powerful banner of the Beerbaum Stables
      Ludger Beerbaum (GER)
      Philipp Weishaupt (GER)
      Christian Kukuk (GER)
      Eoin McMahon (IRL)
      Jane Richard (SUI)
      U25: Philipp Schulze Topphoff (GER)
      The lowdown: the reigning GCL Super Cup Champions but with a completely new line-up for 2022
      Abdel Said (BEL)
      Tobias Meyer (GER)
      Laura Klaphake (GER)
      Kamal Bahamdam (KSA)
      Hans-Dieter Dreher (GER)
      U25: Mike Kawai (JAP)
      The lowdown: John Whitaker and Laura Kraut have been secured to add to the might of the reigning champions
      Marcus Ehning (GER)
      Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS)
      Maurice Tebbel (GER)
      John Whitaker (GB)
      Laura Kraut (USA)
      U25: Gilles Thomas (BEL)
      The lowdown: One of the strongest line-ups in terms of both rider and horse power
      Georgina Bloomberg (USA)
      Denis Lynch (IRL)
      Scott Brash (GB)
      Spencer Smith (USA)
      U25: Jodie Hall McAteer (GB)
      U25: Harry Charles (GB)
      The lowdown: new names who will be hoping to qualify for their home event, the GC Prague Playoffs GCL Super Cup
      Niels Bruynseels (BEL)
      Pieter Devos (BEL)
      Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP)
      Anna Kellnerova (CZE)
      Leopold van Asten (NED)
      U25: Brian Moggre (USA)
      The lowdown: an immensely powerful brand new team including four H&M riders and the world number one
      Peder Fredricson (SWE)
      Olivier Philippaerts (BEL)
      Nicola Philippaerts (BEL)
      Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE)
      Lillie Keenan (USA)
      U25: Lily Attwood (GB)
      The lowdown: another new team featuring three Turkish riders and one of the most exciting U25 riders in the sport
      Derin Demirsoy (TUR)
      Omer Karaevli (TUR)
      Efe Siyahi (TUR)
      Gerrit Nieberg (GER)
      Andre Americo De Miranda (BRA)
      U25: Sanne Thijssen (NED)

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