The lion’s share of showjumping’s richest ever prize pot — a whopping €6.4million (£5,750,000) to be exact — was won by Global Champions League (GCL) team Madrid In Motion in a thrilling Super Cup Final at the O2 Arena in Prague yesterday (16 December).
The trio of Marc Houtzager (Sterrehof’s Calimero), Maikel van der Vleuten on Verdi TN and Eduardo Alvarez Aznar riding Rokfeller De Pleville Bois Margot triumphed over nearest rivals Valkenswaard United and Paris Panthers to win this inaugural competition in Prague.
“There was a lot of pressure today, but you just have to keep trying to jump clear rounds,” said Marc Houtzager, whose team pocketed more than €2.7million.
From Thursday’s quarter-finals and Friday’s semi-finals, six teams had qualified for Sunday’s big-money decider and two teams dramatically crashed out in round one — 2018 GCL season champions London Knights and the in-form Montreal Diamonds.
The shock results came from the Diamonds’ Jos Verlooy and Igor, who parted company after a refusal at the final fence, and London Knights’ Ben Maher, when his usually ultra-reliable Explosion W ran out at the spooky Longines wall for a second time. With all three riders’ scores counting in this revolutionary new competition, it meant elimination from the rest of the tournament.
With just four teams left in contention, a compelling battle ensued right to the wire, and victory in the first ever GCL Super Cup champions wasn’t sealed until the final rider, Eduardo Alvarez Aznar, cleared the last obstacle to scenes of great jubilation.
“I was just trying to jump fence by fence,” said the ultra cool Spaniard. “It’s a very good way to finish the year.”
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Leading names take to the podium in spectacular new showjumping competition
The top three teams took to the podium in a spectacular prize-giving ceremony featuring dazzling pyrotechnics, and even the grooms and their horses were honoured with medals by GC president Jan Tops.
Don’t miss the full report from the inaugural GC Play-Offs — featuring an exclusive column from Shane Breen — in next week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday, 20 December.