‘Tis the season for lion mascots, air acrobatics worthy of Cirque de Soleil, and show jumping fanfare that includes the liberal use of a flame throwers. (Are those white breeches fire-retardant? We hope so!)
If you guessed the Global Champions 2023 Prague Playoffs are back, well, you nailed it!
Descending upon the fairytale Czech Republic capital of Prague—the “City of a Hundred Spires”—known for its colorful baroque buildings and gothic cathedrals, the Playoffs will take place over four days (November 16–19) in the city’s famed O2 Arena.
Once again this year, the event promises to showcase all the top-sport drama and pomp and circumstance the Playoffs are known for. And with €11.5 million in prize money up for grabs this time around, you know the riders will not only be bringing their best mounts, they won’t be pulling any punches.
How does it work? Who will attend? Who gave that lion a T-shirt cannon?
We’re breaking it all down here!
The Global Champions League (GCL) Super Cup
As the culminating championship of the 15-event Global Champions League (GCL) season that spanned four continents, the €10 million GCL Super Cup takes place over three days and features 16 GCL teams competing for every point, with serious purses on offer in each round.
Based on points earned throughout the season, the top four teams entering the Super Cup—Reisenbeck International, the Paris Panthers, Madrid in Motion, and the Stockholm Hearts—will proceed straight to the semi-final round. Everyone else will need to scrap it out in quarter finals, with three riders from each of the 12 teams competing over a 1.55m course, where they’ll attempt to be fault-free against the aggregate time with no drop score.
The top eight teams, based on these scores, will move on the semis, where they’ll join the four, top-ranked bi-round teams to compete over a single-round 1.60m track.
Of those, the top six squads move on to the final, held over two different 1.60m rounds against the clock (and without a jump-off). A total of €6.5 million will be divided among the final teams, with the winner taking home the €2.5 million lion’s share.
Who to Watch:
Helmed by German powerhouses Christian Kukuk and Philipp Weishaupt—each of whom have also won an LGCT Grand Prix this season—Reisenbeck International has six wins and 332 points in regular GCL competition, the most of any team.
Nipping at their heels: The deep bench of three-time winners the Paris Panthers on 318 points—a squad that fields experienced championship-level riders including Harrie Smolders (NED), Ben Maher (GBR), and Jur Vrieling (NED).
The full list of team rosters can be viewed here; the overall 2023 standings can be viewed here.
The Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT) Super Grand Prix
For individual competitors, the LGCT Super Grand Prix is the ultimate competition featuring a who’s who of LGCT Grand Prix winners from the series’ various stops around the world (think: Miami Beach, Mexico City, London, Rome, and beyond).
On the start list: the 15 winners (or highest-placed riders if the winner had a previous LGCT Grand Prix win) from the 2023 season facing off on two, formidable 1.65m tracks in a Table A competition against the clock. There is no jump-off, and all athletes are invited back for the second round (with the exception of those who retire or are eliminated).
In addition to a cool €300,000 paycheck for the winner—of the total €1.25 million purse up for grabs—the LGCT Super Grand Prix champ also gets to add their name to an elite list that includes Daniel Deusser (GER) with Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z in 2023; World no. 1 Henrik van Eckermann with King Edward in 2021; and Ben Maher (GBR) with Explosion W in 2020.
Who to Watch:
The name is Smolders—Harrie Smolders. The red-hot Dutch rider took the 2023 LGCT Champion of Champions title for the second time this season thanks to his 252 points and four consecutive podium finishes in Monte Carlo, Monaco (2nd); A Coruña, Spain, (3rd); Riesenbeck, Germany (1st); and London, U.K. (3rd).
Look for fellow top-ranked LGCT riders—Smolders’s countryman Maikel van der Vleuten (on 246 points) and Sweden’s Henrik von Eckerman (245.50) to try and usurp his crown.
The full rider’s list for the LGCT Super Grand Prix can be viewed here.
What’s On GCTV
|20:00 CET/2:00 p.m. EST||GCL Super Cup Quarterfinal|
|20:00 CET/2:00 p.m. EST||GCL Super Cup Semi-Final|
|First Round: 20:00 CET/2:00 p.m. EST||LGCT Super Grand Prix|
|Second Round: 22:05 CET/4:05 EST|
|First Round: 15:30 CET/9:30 EST||GCL Super Cup Semi Final|
|Second Round: 17:30 CET/11:30 EST|