In the eight year history of the Global Champions League no team has topped both the season standings and the GCL Super Cup. Until now.
Riesenbeck International made history on Sunday as eight months, 16 legs, and four gruelling rounds of team jumping culminated in one epic Prague Playoffs finale at the O2 Arena.
And, like all great moments in show jumping do, it came down to the final horse and rider: Philipp Weishaupt and the nine-year-old Zineday. Tied on eight faults with Valkenswaard United, only a clear in under 73 seconds would clinch the title for Riesenbeck International.
“One rail down and it is one million less in prize money… the pressure was immense,” said Weishaupt.
“I feel like I’m a hundred kilos lighter now!”
He likely is. As anchor rider, the German was carrying the weight of his team’s fate on his shoulders as he rode through the tunnel and into the packed stadium. Teammates Eoin McMahon and Mila delivered a double clear for Riesenbeck International over the formidable 1.65m track, while Christian Kukuk and Checker 47 put up a pair of fours on the leaderboard. It was down to Weishaupt and Westphalian gelding to repeat their foot perfect performance from round one.
And he felt it.
“I think I’m lucky that I can handle the pressure pretty well. I like it, actually, when it’s really important,” said. Weishaupt. It no doubt helped that his young mount has already proven he can deliver when it counts. Zineday boasts a spectacular 79% clear round average over 14 rounds at the 1.60m height, according to Jumpr App. Sunday’s 1.65m track was his biggest ask yet.
“I heard [the commentator] and I knew exactly my time and what I have to do, and then I just have to deliver. And then you’re basically in a tunnel then and it doesn’t matter. You don’t hear anything. You just do your round and you just feel very united.
“That’s actually, in our sport, the moment you are closest to your horse, in my opinion. In this moment, it’s just you and the horse. And basically both brains work ideally together. And this is what makes the sport so beautiful.”
Weishaupt and the bay beautifully executed the final round, clinching the victory for his team and a delivering a flurrying of fist pumps and one tossed helmet in the immediate after.
“As I crossed the line it all just came out of me,” he smiled. “Imagine you are last in the ring, and it’s all in your hands, and you deliver it? It’s an amazing feeling, and actually, this is the reason we are doing the sport—and to be honest… it felt pretty cool.”
It’s a sentiment seconded by team manager and show jumping living legend Ludger Beerbaum.
“You couldn’t have asked for anything better. I think it, without a question, shows the skills [these riders] have. Of course, the pressure is one major factor—especially when you see today the final round, it’s not only mental strength and dealing with pressure. It’s of course skills and how you ride, how you perform, how you ride your horse… how you prepare yourself and your horse for each and every event throughout the whole season.
“I can only say all my respect for what they’ve done.”
Cheers to that.