Geir Gulliksen led his Mexico Amigos to a brilliant third place among the 18 teams in showjumping’s Global Champions League (GCL). The MS Amlin-sponsored rider is now looking forward to the challenge that awaits in 2018 – with a newly-named team more in tune with his Norse heritage.
“Our target before the season was a top-five finish,” said the 57-year-old Norwegian, “so we were very happy with third. We slipped down to sixth at one point but fought back.”
The Mexico Amigos won more than €1m in prize money in the GCL - which is a team competition with rounds around the world - for their squad of Geir, Christian Ahlmann, Henrik von Eckermann, Evelina Tovek and Yuri Mansur.
The team competed in London in early August on the South Grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea by the River Thames.
He said: “The London event was fantastic – it was one of the best events because they managed to combine the culture, good facilities for the horses, good facilities for the spectators. It was probably one of the best shows there have been. They used the Chelsea pensioners to give out the prizes – it was really, really good. We are going back to London in 2018 too.
“But next year will be a little bit different.”
GCL is introducing spectacular new team play-offs for 2018 with an unprecedented €10million in prize money. The new play-offs will be staged in the magical Czech capital Prague, one of the world’s most beautiful cities and a UNESCO World Heritage site, promising unforgettable excitement for millions of equestrian fans worldwide.
The premiere of the thrilling new format for team show jumping will take place from Thursday 13th to Sunday 16th December 2018 at the dynamic O2 arena, which hosts major concerts and sports events, and will be the first indoor event on the Longines Global Champions Tour and Global Champions League calendar.
The pre-Christmas play offs will dramatically raise the stakes at every stage of the regular GCL team championship with even more tension building at the final regular-season event at prestigious Al Shaqab in Doha in November. Only the 16 best teams from the 2018 season will qualify for a place at the play offs. The top four teams will automatically be fast-tracked directly to the play off semi finals.
“The new format means it’s more important than ever to have a good team,” said Geir.
Geir, who has represented his country in three World Championships, two FEI World Cup Finals and an Olympic Games, will lead the newly-named Scandinavian Vikings in 2018 against teams that feature some of the world’s best riders.
Geir added: “For next year we will have myself, Christian Ahlmann, Leopold van Asten from Holland, Yuri Mansur from Brazil, and one other member yet to be confirmed.
“That team is just as strong as the team that finished third in 2017. Teamwork is very important, loyalty and a good tone is key. We never have any problems – that chemistry is really important.”
The new GCL starts at the end of March in Mexico City when the Mexican Amigos will be appearing under their new guise as the Scandinavian Vikings.