Third vic­tory for Europe

Af­ter a tac­ti­cal bluff­ing match and ex­cit­ing du­els, Rid­ers Europe — in­clud­ing Harry Charles — en­joy a con­vinc­ing third win over Amer­ica

Horse & Hound - - Showjumping - By JEN­NIFER DON­ALD EUROPE’S CHEF D’EQUIPE PHILIPPE GUERDAT

BRI­TAIN’S star young rider Harry Charles was se­lected as the Euro­pean team’s un­der-25 rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Satur­day’s Rid­ers Masters Cup and the 19-year-old was part of a vic­to­ri­ous squad, who se­cured a con­vinc­ing vic­tory over their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts. This was Europe’s third vic­tory in this Ry­der Cup-style se­ries, which pro­vides bril­liant en­ter­tain­ment, as well as be­ing a pop­u­lar con­cept with the rid­ers.

In round one, Europe’s five rid­ers se­cured four wins in the match play for­mat, Harry Charles just los­ing out to his US ri­val Jes­sica Spring­steen. At half-time, the score was 45-30, be­fore some reshuf­fling of the rid­ers was in­sti­gated by both chef d’equipes Robert Rid­land (USA) and Philippe Guerdat (Europe).

“The Amer­i­cans tried to trick us and changed the start­ing or­der we had de­cided in the be­gin­ning at the very last minute,” said Philippe.

The US chal­lenged strongly in round two, with vic­to­ries gained by Laura Kraut (Cu­ri­ous Ge­orge) fol­lowed by Lu­cas

Porter (Di­a­monte Darco), who beat Harry Charles on Vic­tor by the nar­row­est of mar­gins. But a resur­gent Europe re­turned with fight­ing wins from Ed­uardo Al­varez Az­nar and Ed­ward

Levy. Fi­nal rider Daniel Deusser (Jas­mien V Biss­chop) only had to com­plete the course for a 125-100 Euro­pean vic­tory.

“It was fun,” said Philippe Guerdat. “Things got a bit tense af­ter the sec­ond duel that we lost by one tenth of a sec­ond. The US rid­ers even took the lead for a while. They fought a good bat­tle. But all is well that ends well.

“It was re­ally mov­ing to see Harry Charles so dis­ap­pointed to have lost both his du­els. As I ex­plained to him, this is how sport goes and also the way to help you im­prove. The Rid­ers Masters Cup is a great ex­pe­ri­ence of a high­level team com­pe­ti­tion for our young rid­ers.”

HIS­TORIC WIN

SUN­DAY’S Longines grand prix con­cluded with a seven-strong jump-off and prov­ing in­vin­ci­ble against the clock was Aus­tralian rider Ed­wina Tops-Alexan­der on the 11-year-old KWPN mare Cal­i­for­nia. The pair rock­eted home some 0.36sec ahead of their near­est ri­vals.

Ed­wina’s sta­ble mate Al­berto Zorzi (Con­tanga 3) of Italy took the run­ner-up spot, with Ire­land’s De­nis Lynch con­tin­u­ing to ce­ment a great part­ner­ship with 10-year-old The Sin­ner to fin­ish third as the only other dou­ble clear. This was the first time in the show’s 10-year his­tory that vic­tory has gone to a non-Euro­pean rider.

“The course-de­signer, Frank Rothen­berger, did an amaz­ing job,” said Ed­wina. “I wasn’t sure I had been fast enough to beat Al­berto, who started last. I would

‘The Amer­i­cans tried to trick us and changed the start­ing or­der’

have gone faster if there had been more to come af­ter me.”

“I’ve been com­ing to this show for 10 years and I’ve seen it get bet­ter and bet­ter. It is an event where ev­ery­body wants to be at this time of the year. There’s so much go­ing on be­hind the scenes — I have a lot of re­spect for this and for ev­ery­body in­volved, and es­pe­cially the pub­lic, the rid­ers, the horses, the spon­sors. It takes a lot to achieve this. The pub­lic is amaz­ingly sup­port­ive, what­ever the na­tion­al­ity of the rider.”

De­nis Lynch, who had rid­den against the clock from first draw, said: “With my time, I knew I was never go­ing to win. I tried to go fast, but I’m happy with the horse’s im­prove­ment and to fin­ish in the top three, par­tic­u­larly here.”

Best of the Brits in the con­clud­ing class were Harry Charles (Lor­danos Ju­nior) and Wil­liam Whi­taker (Uta­maro D’Ecaussines), both fin­ish­ing with four faults in round one.

PURE MAGIC

TWO in-form rid­ers shared top hon­ours in the Masters Power Lido De Paris six-bar. Both Si­mon De­lestre (Chadino) for France and Ire­land’s De­nis Lynch (The Sin­ner) jumped clean for four rounds, where the fi­nal fence stood at 1.92m. How­ever, both faulted in the fifth and fi­nal head-to-head, where the last jump tow­ered 10cm higher.

“Chadino is usu­ally a grand prix horse, but I en­tered him in the Masters Power as an ex­er­cise,” ex­plained Si­mon. “I rode him yes­ter­day in the Longines Speed Chal­lenge, where I asked him to gal­lop. So, to­day, this sixbar class en­abled me to get him to jump high again.”

Kevin Staut and Ayade De Sep­ton Et HDC pro­vided the home crowd with two thrilling vic­to­ries in Paris. The first came in Fri­day’s Longines Speed Chal­lenge be­fore the French­man fol­lowed up in Satur­day’s 36-starter Masters One, nar­rowly skip­ping home faster than his team-mate Si­mon De­lestre (Ch­e­sall Zime­quest) who, de­spite last draw, just couldn’t close the gap.

“The beauty of our sport is the os­mo­sis be­tween a horse and a rider who know each other per­fectly,” said the 2016 Olympic team gold medallist. “Things don’t al­ways go as planned but, some­times, a whole week­end is pure magic. Ayade is on top form af­ter a short break. My back is bet­ter since I had an op­er­a­tion and I think this goes a long way to­wards our good per­for­mances.”

This was the third time Kevin has won the Speed Chal­lenge, af­ter success in Hong Kong in 2014 and this show in 2016.

“I could hear the shouts of ‘Kevin!’ while I was wait­ing in the pas­sage­way be­fore I set off,” said the pop­u­lar rider.

“But from the mo­ment I ap­proached the first ob­sta­cle, I was com­pletely fo­cused on my course. The strat­egy we de­vel­oped with our team man­ager, Philippe Guerdat, was to be cau­tious in the be­gin­ning. Then, I felt Ayade was game. She was go­ing bet­ter and bet­ter and proved gen­er­ous all along, so I started tak­ing risks.

“When you en­ter this arena, the at­mos­phere is fan­tas­tic. I tuned out the noise, but I felt the whole crowd be­hind us.”

FLY­ING THE FLAG

IN the two-star classes, Louise Say­well and Old Lodge’s 10-yearold mare Golden Wave OL jumped a dou­ble clear for sev­enth in Sun­day’s grand prix, hav­ing taken third on the open­ing day.

The Bri­tish flag flut­tered in Satur­day’s Masters Two ac­cu­mu­la­tor when Jes­sica Men­doza and Horst Van De Mis­pelaere — who se­cured the run­ner-up spot in the show’s open­ing speed class — earned max­i­mum points, just quicker than Amer­ica’s So­phie Gracida with At­lantis B.

Great Bri­tain’s Tess Carmichael usu­ally per­forms well in Paris and she took Sun­day’s one-star grand prix rid­ing the 13-year-old geld­ing At­lantis PP Z as the quick­est of only two dou­ble clears.

Knees up: Harry Charlesrides Vic­tor for the Euro­pean team, who were vic­to­ri­ous in a tac­ti­calbat­tle against USA

Team Europe beat Amer­ica for the third time in the se­ries

De­nis Lynch and The Sin­nershare the top spot in the six-bar with Si­mon De­lestre(Chadino), clear at 1.92m

Ed­wina Tops-Alexan­der and Cal­i­for­nia head the grand prix

French­man Kevin Staut se­cures a win­ning dou­ble on home soil

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