On paper, Shanghai Swans are one of the strongest teams on the 2024 Global Champions League roster.

Between current world no. 8 Max Kühner, former world no. 1s Daniel Deusser and Christian Ahlmann, and 2009 European team champion Pius Schwizer, not to mention rising stars Samuel Hutton and U25 rider Jeanne Sadran, it’s a stacked deck.

And they’ve only tapped the veterans to ride so far this season.

But the results haven’t represented the talent. Shanghai Swans were 11th in Doha and Miami. In Mexico City, they were 13th—out of 14 teams.

“The last couple of weeks didn’t go as planned,” said Deusser. “The puzzle didn’t fit together.

“It’s not that we didn’t have good riders and good horses. We just didn’t mesh. We were a little unlucky here and there. We had clear rounds but it didn’t count. It was a frustrating zone in the moment.”

That changed in Shanghai.

The Swans, represented by Deusser on Gangster v/h Noddevelt and Otello de Guldenboom and Schwizer on Chill Ma and Vancouver de Lanlore, landed their first podium finish of the 2024 season, taking a definitive win in their namesake city.

Fielding two different horses in each round, the Swans were the only team to jump four clear rounds over Uliano Vezzani’s course on the day. What’s more, when Deusser entered the ring, last to return, he had three rails in hand.

“Going in I knew I could have two or three down, that feeling is something exceptional. Of course, here in our home show in Shanghai, it’s brilliant to have the support of the local crowd, which makes a very, very special show,” continued Deusser.

“I hope with the result here in Shanghai the rest of the season is going up.”

Also looking up: Istanbul Warriors and Doha Falcons. Both teams logged their first podium finishes of the season in Shanghai. While Prague Lions, winners in Mexico City and runners up in Miami, and Riesenbeck International took a down turn, facing elimination in Round 1 and Round 2, respectively.

With four legs on the books, Cannes Stars, the GCL’s only all-female team, reclaimed the top of the team standings with their fifth place finish.

The GCL next heads to Madrid, May 17–19 May.