It’s midway through the 2024 Global Champions League (GCL) season, and things are officially starting to heat up.

The city of Cannes is no stranger to drama, and the second round of GCL competition on Friday, June 7 lived up to the big-stage hype. Under glittering stadium lights, the Stockholm Hearts powered by H&M We Love Horses team of Malin Baryard-Johnsson with H&M Indiana and Nicola Philippaerts on Katanga v/h Dingeshof bested Riesenbeck International powered by Kingsland by a single rail. Madrid In Motion secured yet another place on the podium for third.

And this was a big one. With this victory, the Stockholm Hearts not only earned their first win of the GCL season, but a new place at the top of the standings, where they unseated longtime leaders the Cannes Stars powered by Iron Dames—again, by a single point. But Baryard-Johnsson, an Olympic gold medalist for Team Sweden in her own right, knows the necessity of keeping her head in the game.

“It always makes it more special to be here in the night and it’s a great atmosphere, and winning [is] just always great. With the GCL, you get to experience year to year in this championship, like we say, we take it show by show. We have been very consistent so far this year, and we are just simply going to have to stay consistent because that’s what it’s about in the end.”  

For second-place finisher Riesenbeck International, however, consistency came in all the wrong ways.

In a repeat of last week’s GCL Ramatuelle/Saint-Tropez, Riesenbeck found themselves in pole position, but couldn’t hold onto the lead after Philipp Schulze Topphoff (GER) & Carla NRW knocked two poles in Round 2, finishing on a score of 8. But Schulze Topphoff’s teammate and countryman, Christian Kukuk, was quick to look on the bright side.

“I understand that Philipp is disappointed, I would feel absolutely the same in his position, but honestly, we should be more happy about the second place today—the last time when we were [in] the lead after Round 1, we ended up fourth. So, this result, we should see it [as a] positive and not be disappointed tonight,” Kukuk said. “The overall is far away from done”.

The competition moves on to Paris in two weeks (June 21-23), where the top five teams will be jockeying for coveted points and a top-seeded position going into the GCL Super Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in November. The top-four ranked GCL teams receive a bye into the Super-Cup Quarter Final, and the competition for that particular advantage is already fierce.

One point currently separates the Stockholm Hearts on 137 points from the Cannes Stars on 136. Meanwhile third-ranked Madrid in Motion and fourth-ranked Riesenbeck International trail slightly on 123 points and 122 points, respectively.