Championship Race at Fever Pitch ahead of LGCT Rome showdown
|Championship Race at Fever Pitch ahead of LGCT Rome showdown - 19th Sep 2017|
Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
A cavalcade of stars will be in action for the penultimate Longines Global Champions Tour event of the 2017 season as anticipation intensifies ahead of Rome.
Now in the crucial final fight, and with just two legs of the 15-event world-wide Championship remaining, drop scores come into play with only the best eight results of the season counting.
The race for the LGCT Champion of Champions title balances on a knife-edge, with Harrie Smolders (NED) leading the charge on 268 points overall. A mere 11 points away sits German maestro Christian Ahlmann (GER) on 257, the top rider quietly cruising to the sharp end of the grid with consistent placings and a sensational win at his home event in Berlin earlier this season. Italian fans will have plenty to cheer for, as in third place sits Alberto Zorzi (ITA) just two points away on 255 and with the potential to shake up the overall leaderboard on home turf.
If Smolders finishes on the podium this weekend, and his nearest rivals Zorzi and Ahlmann fail to earn points in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Rome, the Dutchman will take home the title. However both Zorzi and Ahlmann look to be on formidable form, and with the likes of Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), Scott Brash (GBR) and home hero Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) snapping at their heels, it looks as though the fight for the title could go down to the wire in Doha.
Featuring riders from 24 different countries in the CSI5* competitions alone, the penultimate leg of the 2017 LGCT Championship promises to be the perfect prelude to a high-octane season finale. Rome has been a highly acclaimed addition to the Tour calendar since its debut in 2015, with the unique Stadio dei Marmi an exceptional setting for top show jumping. This year there will be special entertainment, including a charity football match and breathtaking equestrian displays, ensuring there will be something for all the family to enjoy. Watched over by the new Olympic stadium, the event is held in the older original stadium, with 59 beautiful archaic marble statues depicting different sports lining the amphitheatre.
Legends of the sport including Ludger Beerbaum (GER), John Whitaker (GBR), Marcus Ehning (GER) and Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) will head to Italy's capital city from the 21st - 24th September. Two time LGCT Champion of Champions Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) will also be back in action, lining up alongside stars such as Peder Fredricson (SWE), Ben Maher (GBR), Marco Kutscher (GER), Simon Delestre (FRA), Daniel Deusser (GER), Sergio Alvarez Moya (ESP), Kevin Staut (FRA), Lauren Hough (USA), Piergiorgio Bucci (ITA), Janika Sprunger (SUI), Cian O'Connor (IRL), Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Max Khner (AUT).
Young talent will also have an opportunity to shine on a global stage, with the next generation of show jumping stars seeing Martin Fuchs (SUI), Lillie Keenan (USA), Emily Moffitt (GBR), Kevin Jochems (NED), Philip Houston (GER) and Anna Kellnerova (CZE) all taking part in the Italian leg of the Championship.
The stadium is one of the arenas in the Foro Italico sports area, home to the Italian Olympic Committee. Despite it's relative newness to the LGCT and GCL Championship circuit, both years have seen spectators filling every space available to catch a glimpse of the world's show jumping heroes in action, and with the event again completely free to the public it is a unique opportunity for local fans to witness the world's best in action on a global stage. Italian riders will be competing in front of a passionate local and international crowd as the battle for the series championship reaches a crucial stage with competitors locked in a gladiatorial battle for the honours.
For the full rider list, please click here.