DENIS Lynch won the opening five-star 1.45m at the first Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha, Qatar, last Thursday. The Tipperary native was best of nine double clears in the two-phase class aboard the Sebastien Schatzmann’s 11-year-old grey stallion Cornets Iberio.

The pair broke the beam in 25.43 seconds, exactly two second faster than runner-up Henrik von Eckermann with Calizi, to earn €2,200. Trevor Breen slotted into fourth place with Heather Black’s Highland President (00 30.77) and Mark McAuley was also double clear to finish seventh with the Irish-bred GRS Lady Amaro (Amaretto D’Arco x Over the River), bred by Denis Hickey.

When Ludger Beerbaum was taken to hospital after a fall on Thursday, he didn’t think that his two riders - Philipp Weishaupt and Christian Kukuk – would go on to win the Global Champions League on the debut for their new team, Riesenbeck International, as well as finishing first and second in the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix, but that they did.

Ludger spent a few days in hospital after fracturing his thigh in a fall from Christians Carado and watched the classes from his bed, before his riders visited with all the winnings!

With over €36 million in prize money on offer in the 2023 LGCT and GCL season, and over €10 million alone in one weekend for teams in the GCL Super Cup at the GC Prague Playoffs in November, everyone was anxious to get off to a good start.

Heavyweights Christian Kukuk and Philipp Weishaupt finished on four faults over two rounds with a win for the newly formed team, and wished their boss well afterwards. “We are delighted with the day today. We have had up and downs this week,” Weishaupt said. “I was not supposed to jump today at all - Coby was meant to have a day off and Ludger was supposed to ride but unfortunately he ended up in hospital last night. This win was for Ludger and we wish him a speedy recovery. For sure he is watching from the hospital now so we wish him all the best.”

Two days later, Weishaupt scooped €123,750 when winning the GCT Grand Prix with Just Be Gentle after a thrilling 12-horse jump-off where seven combinations were double clear. The German saw off his teammate Kukuk who finished second with Nice van’t Zorgvliet while Frenchman Simon Delestre rounded off the podium in third with Dexter Fontenis Z.

“This is a very very special moment,” the winner said. “Winning a Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix is special but even more so with this young mare. We always put our best horses in the league and we won that, which was already incredible. So to put this one in the Grand Prix, I was never expecting to jump clear, let alone win.”