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