The French were in fabulous form at Round 7 of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2013/2014 Western European League series in Leipzig, Germany today where Patrice Delaveau recorded his second win of the season and fellow-countryman and reigning European Champion, Roger Yves Bost, lined up second.
From the starting field of 40, there was a 14-strong German contingent also chasing those all-important maximum qualifying points, but host-nation riders Lars Nieberg and Markus Renzel had to settle for third and fourth placings ahead of Ukraine’s Katharina Offel in fifth as the French reigned supreme. A total of 11 went into the jump-off, and Delaveau won through with a typically fiery performance when third-last to go with the 10-year-old stallion Lacrimoso HDC.
Another Frenchman, Kevin Staut, slotted into sixth ahead of Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson in seventh, while Billy Twomey finished eighth and best of the Irish duo who made the cut into the round against the clock.
Course designer, Frank Rothenberger, set them a stiff test of unmerciful oxers and strategically-placed verticals, but with a generous time-allowed of 72 seconds it proved well within the capability of all-comers, and it would be just the vital edge of accuracy that would make all the difference on the day.
There was no real bogey fence in the first round, with even the oxer at fence two and the following vertical at three taking their toll. Rothenberger set the triple combination at fence four followed by an oxer at five before a right-handed swing to the line from the vertical at six to the oxer at seven and another vertical at fence eight. The first two clears came from Nieberg and Renzel who both attacked the course on a rhythm and made it look very easy indeed.
However the water-tray oxer at fence nine hit the floor on several occasions as did the following oxer at 10, and from the narrow black gate on the short side of the arena at fence 11 it was a sharp turn to the penultimate oxer at 12 which led to the final double of verticals. Many horse-and-rider combinations made it safely all the way only to fault here when the last distance came up a little short.
Nieberg threw down a strong challenge when setting the pace in the jump-off with the 11-year-old mare, Leonie W. The new track required a long eight strides between the first two fences - the verticals at six and eight - while the water-tray oxer at nine was followed by a left-handed swing back to the vertical at three and then right-handed to the first two elements of the previous triple combination. From there it was a strong gallop to the oxer at five before the most crucial turn of all - a circling run to what had been he very first fence followed by a strong gallop down to fence two which was now last on the course.
Leonie W was sharp and careful all the way to set a strong target in 42.58 seconds, and that would take some beating.
Renzel’s elegant and eye-catching grey, Cassydy, crossed the line in 43.15 seconds to present no threat to the leader, but it was clear this 11-year-old was not being put under pressure as he soared effortlessly through the course to post what would still be an important result.
Next in was the last of the host country riders, Carsten-Otto Nagel with Holiday by Solitour, but their chances disappeared at the first element of the former triple combination, while Ireland’s Billy Twomey was even more unlucky when his tough, loyal but self-opinionated 17-year-old mare, Tinka’s Serenade, hit the very last.
Great Britain’s Daniel Neilson and Coco Bongo left two on the floor before Roger Yves Bost set sail with Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois, and the latter pair had the packed stadium of spectators on the edges of their seats with a characteristically flamboyant run that saw them soaring ahead with a fantastic clear in 40.78 seconds. Now that was the time to beat.
Ireland’s Denis Lynch decided to give it his best shot with Abbervail van het Dingeshof, but a very tight line to the vertical at fence three didn’t pay off when the 14-year-old horse slammed on the brakes, and when Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Casall Ask had a fence down it was still Bost who held the advantage. Next man in would change all that however, Delaveau once again demonstrating that extraordinary ability to get his horses to jump at speed without the slightest hesitation and just about always on the perfect stride.
Taking the crucial turn to the vertical second-last, the man who will celebrate his 49th birthday in seven days’ time flapped the reins in encouragement, and Lacrimoso HDC responded with another burst of speed that saw them through the finish line in 40.13 seconds. A fence down for French team-mate Kevin Staut and his much-loved mare, Silvana HDC, and a slow but clean tour of the track by Ukraine’s Katharina Offel and Lacontino ensured it would be another great day for Delaveau who also clinched maximum points at the second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League 2013/2014 series at Helsinki in Finland in October.
“Since last year I’ve won seven Longines watches!” the winning French rider said with a laugh afterwards. He has indeed been enjoying a great run of form of late, and with three Grand Prix horse in his stable looks very well-equipped as France prepares to host the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in his home region of Normandy later this summer. He only started riding Lacrimoso HDC last March and immediately won the Longines Hong Kong Masters with the German-bred horse whose name, Italian for tearful or sad, was not reflected by the big grins being worn by both horse and rider during today’s prize-winner’s ceremony.
Delaveau is now well-qualified for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2013/2014 Final which will take place in Lyon, France from 17-21 April, and his fellow-countryman, Bost who finished second today, is determined to join him. “We would love to have four French riders competing at Lyon” Bost said today. But with just 28 points to his credit in the series so far, the reigning European Champion has more work to do if he is to make the cut.
Today’s result re-confirms Delaveau as a key player in the 2014 French campaign. A prolific winner at Junior and Young Rider level, he helped win Team Bronze at the 1986 World Championships in Aachen, Germany at the tender age of just 21 and has been a highly successful member of the French senior squad ever since. He helped claim team silver for France at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ at Lexington (USA) in 2010 and was a member of the winning French team at the inaugural Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping Final in Barcelona, Spain last September.
Last year he became the first rider since 1971 to win both the Derby and Grand Prix at La Baule, France and it seems 2014 may well be another year to remember. He will definitely be one to watch when the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final gets underway in 12 weeks time.
For more information on the seventh leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Western European League 2013/2014 series at Leipzig, Germany go to website www.partner-pferd.de/de or contact Press Officer Andreas Kerstan, Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel +49 177 7532 624.
The next leg takes place in Zurich, Switzerland on Sunday 26 January. For all information on the Swiss fixture go to website http://www.mercedes-csi.ch or contact Press Officer Roman Gasser, Email email@example.com, Tel +41(0)79 635 5005.