FEI Press Release
Simon Delestre produced a devastating turn of speed from the stallion Qlassic Bois Margot to clinch victory at the eighth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2014 Western European League at Mechelen, Belgium today. Last to go in an intriguing nine-horse jump-off, the 33-year-old Frenchman shattered the early target set by Britain’s Joe Clee to scoop maximum points and set himself firmly on the path to the series Final in Las Vegas, USA next April.
The first-round course set by Belgian course designer, Lucien Somers, presented a tough test for the 39 starters, with the double at fence seven and the triple combination at fence 12 proving particularly influential. “The triple was very difficult - the double of oxers with one stride followed by a vertical at the end of the course meant you needed a fit horse with a lot of scope today” Delestre commented afterwards.
Clee really threw down the gauntlet when first to go in the jump-off with the 10-year-old stallion Utamaro d’Ecaussines who gave it everything he had to set a strong target in 32.42 seconds. And the 36-year-old rider who is married to the youngest daughter of the late Eric Wauters, in whose memory the popular Belgian fixture is staged, then had to stand back and watch the rest try to better that.
America’s Lucy Davis and Barron lost their chance at the very first fence, but Sweden’s Douglas Lindelow left all the timber intact when steering Casello home in 35.07, and he wouldn’t regret being a little cautious when this eventually proved good enough for third place.
The packed stadium of spectators gasped with dismay when the first of the two Belgian contenders, Judy-Ann Melchior and her grey mare Cold as Ice Z, also fell foul of the opening vertical, but they were gripping their seats with excitement as Jos Verlooy galloped down to the last well up on the clock with the 11-year-old gelding Domino. One of the new wave of super-talented young Belgians blazing a trail on the international circuit right now, the rider who turned 19 just two weeks ago decided to take a stride out to the final oxer however and paid the price as it came crashing down for four faults in 34.60 seconds. He couldn’t forgive himself afterwards. "I made a terrible mistake and I'm so disappointed. I will never get the chance to win a competition like this again!" he insisted, but of course a young man of his calibre has a great future ahead of him.
He had shown that Clee’s target time could be beaten, and although French stars Kevin Staut (Qurack de Falaise HDC) and Roger Yves Bost (Nippon d’Elle) each left a fence on the floor, and Germany’s Christian Ahlmann played the percentage game with a safe but slow clear from Cornado ll which would earn them fourth place in the final analysis, Delestre and his black stallion never looked like they were ready to compromise.
The precision of their opening round suggested they are a pair right on form, and when the Frenchman asked for a colossal effort at the last, the horse never flinched, galloping through the timers more than two seconds faster than Clee to put the result beyond doubt.
"I thought Joe was very quick and I wasn't sure I could do a better time but I tried my best without going crazy. It was a good jump-off track for my horse, we could take one stride out in every line and he's always very quick, but I was sure to be careful because twice before in the qualifiers this season I have been really fast but picked up four faults!” said Delestre afterwards.
The pair have had a busy and super-successful year, with the team silver medal at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy followed by a second-place finish at the Global Champions Tour in Vienna, fifth at the Longines qualifier in Lyon (FRA) and 12th at Stuttgart “and now we won - I'm really so happy with him!” Delestre said of his horse. “He will do Basel (SUI) and Bordeaux (FRA) and then go breeding for seven weeks. Last year he covered about 300 mares, he is a great stallion for the French mares with a fantastic bloodline” he added.
Talking about his stallion he continued “Qlassic is special in many ways, he's full of energy, but not stupid energy, and he's usually very careful. He can be sensitive sometimes if things are not going well, but we understand each other. He's best when he's been jumping over a few days. On Thursday we jumped a class, and then we went in a jump-off but we went slowly. He needs a few times in the ring to be happy, and today he was really ready!" he added.
With 37 points the Frenchman has now moved up to eighth place on the Western European league leaderboard and is already planning his trip to the Longines Final. However he’s not sure which horse he will take. “I will think about it closer to the time. It's a very small ring there for a horse like Qlassic, so I might take Ryan (Ryan des Hayettes) instead" he pointed out this evening.
- Qlassic Bois Margot (Simon Delestre) FRA 0/0 32.42
- Utamaro d'Ecaussines (Joe Clee) GBR 0/0 34.93
- Casello (Douglas Lindelow) SWE 0/0 35.07
- Cornado ll (Christian Ahlmann) GER 0/0 39.53
- Barron (Lucy Davis) USA 0/4 32.88
- Qurack de Falaise HDC (Kevin Staut) FRA 0/4 33.91
- Domino (Jos Verlooy) BEL 0/4 34.60
- Nippon d'Elle (Roger Yves Bost) FRA 0/4 34.82
- As Cold as Ice Z (Judy-Ann Melchior) BEL 0/4 35.64