6 April 2024

~5 minutes read

“Good Day At The Office” as Duffy’s Gladiators win Miami’s GCL

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“Good Day At The Office” as Duffy’s Gladiators win Miami’s GCL

Galway man also secures Grand Prix qualification at Beach party to remember

Michael Duffy had a night to remember in the idyllic surroundings of Miami Beach, as he, Laura Kraut and Lorenzo de Luca powered Rome Gladiators powered by ClipMyHorse.TV teammates to victory in the second leg of the Longines Global Champions League.

Duffy also secured qualification for tonight’s five-star Global Champions Tour Grand Prix with O’Balou van de Plataan.

Even though Duffy went clear in the 1.55m first round on Claptonn Mouche, the 12-year-old gelding he owns with Stephex Stables, the Gladiators were anchored in ninth as de Luca and Dever De Talma had two jumping errors. At that juncture, eight faults seemed unlikely to be a winning score.

It was another Irishman, Denis Lynch that was at the summit after that initial outing against the clock, which involved 12 obstacles and 15 jumping efforts.

The Tipperary man’s clear in a time of 71.09 earned him eighth in the individual class, behind Julien Anquetin (FRA) and Blood Diamond du Pont, but combined with a clear in 72.60 by Spencer Smith (USA) on HHS Seattle, put the New York Empire powered by Lugano Diamonds squad on the top rung of the ladder with the 1.60m second round to come.

Jack Ryan posted a strong performance in the initial class too, leaving every rail in place on Guppie VDL to earn ninth-place prize money.

The second round speed class involved 13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts and Longines world-ranked number 11, Shane Sweetnam posted an early clear round on Rr Combella, owned by the Cork man and Voquest LLC, in a time of 76.76 that proved highly competitive throughout to earn €7,385 for fifth.

The round was won by Christian Kukuk (GER) and Mumbai, whose time of 73.13 was too hot for Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson, who was no slouch on H&M Indiana but on 74.98, had to settle for second.

Meanwhile, Duffy had done his work for the Gladiators, as American legend, Laura Kraut was introduced in his stead. He took the opportunity to give O’Balou van de Plataan an outing with potential Grand Prix qualification as a target and would have been very pleased with the ten-year-old’s jumping, if slightly frustrated by the time fault that cost him a top eight finish. Placing 11th did secure a place in this evening’s prestigious GP, however.

Any other lingering frustrations evaporated completely as Duffy watched events unfold towards the end of the class.

Kraut certainly had an impact with a very quick clear round on Bisquetta that earned her third in the individual rankings.

Experienced Italian, de Luca followed suit on a new horse, Cappucino 194 to wipe out the memory of his first-round effort and being the only team to have a double clear in round 2 proved significant for the Gladiators, as the eight teams above them – including three that had gone into the second leg with no faults – fell by the wayside.

There was huge disappointment for Lynch as he and Brooklyn Heights had an unlucky rail down and a time fault. The pressure was on Smith then who could still win it for New York with a clear round but the American and HHS Seattle endured a horror outing, clocking up 15 faults to ensure victory for Duffy and his fellow Gladiators.

“Claptonn Mouche produced a fantastic clear in Round 1,” said a delighted Duffy. “It was needed for the team as they went into Round 2 on eight faults but Laura and Lorenzo delivered and followed up with two more clears to come out on top.

“Claptonn Mouche is a very talented horse. He came to my stables at the beginning of this year so it’s a new partnership but it’s looking like an exciting one. He’s owned by Stephex Stables, as is O’Balou van de Plataan, who I jumped individually in Round 2. He was also clear and placed to qualify for the Grand Prix, so it was a good day at the office.”

Sweetnam got off to an excellent start in five-star competition earlier in the week on Thursday, at a venue he has enjoyed considerable success in over the years.

Riding Seabrook LLC’s Irandole Du Flot in the feature 1.45m speed class, Sweetnam secured a spot on the podium by finishing third, with Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) and Elwikke triumphant and American competitor, Natalie Dean in second on board Chadora Lady.

A field of 43 lined up for the €28,2000 event, including an Irish sextet. Dean held pole position for much of the contest, going clear and stopping the clock on 64.07 seconds. Having gone out in 15th, the American saw 19 combinations fail to improve on her mark but van der Vleuten shaved another eight hundredths of a second off it to claim the ultimate garlands.

Sweetnam, whose 16-year-old daughter Olivia had won a two-star 1.40m class on Wednesday, was last into the ring with his ten-year-old bay mare and the pair made a bold bid for honours, eventually posting a time of 64.28, more than two seconds better than fourth.

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