Drama as top riders miss out on €6m final after ‘heartbreaking’ elimination

  • There was high drama at the Global Champions Tour (GCT) Prague Playoffs as one rider’s premature start meant “heartbreaking” elimination for his team.

    The quarter-finals of the Global Champions League (GCL) Super Cup presented by Air Bank featured a stellar line-up of horses and riders trying to secure a place in the semi-finals.

    Uliano Vezzani’s course proved a tough test for the Super Cup, with faults coming throughout, but it was the third team in, the Cannes Stars, whose route to the demi-final was cut short by a technicality. Jens Backmann, on Aglaia J, started before the bell went, which meant elimination for the team.

    “The Playoffs is the last show of the year, the whole team was very excited to come here and disappointed for sure not to jump,” said Jens’ British teammate Sameh El Dahan. “I also feel for Jens. We were all really excited about this show, so for this to happen to him I think was a bit heartbreaking and a bit unfair. But that is sport and you have to live with the disappointment. It has been a bit the story with the Cannes Stars this year, a bit up and down, two podium finishes, but still a lot of downs and a lot of ups. We were hoping to finish on a high, but it’s not meant to be and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

    Sameh added that the excitement, the ups and downs and the lack of guarantees are part of what he loves about the sport.

    “You can see that everybody has their horses well prepared and in the best form they can, then a small thing like this happens and all your dreams are shattered,” he said. “So it is a bit like this, and that is what I love about this sport – there are a lot of emotions and a lot of excitement, and we just have to live with the bad days as well as the good days. For myself I have a few good days to fall back on and keep motivated for the future.”

    The Paris Panthers took the win, finishing on a total of four faults. Team member Ben Maher, who touched just one rail on his World Championships ride Faltic HB, said: “I think the team deserve a good result this week. I think it makes a difference this week and plays to our advantage with the format of three riders instead of two.”

    Jack Whitaker jumped clear on Q Paravatti N to help secure his team Madrid in Motion’s place in the semi-finals, as did John Whitaker on Equine America Unick Du Francport, for Valkenswaard United.

    The semi-final takes place this evening (18 November) and the final on Sunday.

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