The Australian Edwina Alexander had to prove strong nerves and courage in order to win the Jaeger LeCoultre Grand Prix of Cannes tonight, but above all “real confidence in my horse” as she explains after her exploit.
The scenario deriving from the course of the French course designer Serge Houtmann was unique and Jessica Kuerten insisted on mentioning during the press conference that “seventeen riders without faults in the first round would definitely bring some change into other stages of the Global Champions Tour; then five riders in an exciting jump-off design: chapeau, that’s what I call good work!”
The design of the jump-off course was finished off by an unusually long gallop passage leading to an enormous oxer in the colours of Cannes: a spectacular show-bonus! The riders took the challenge by the horns, attempting a victory. Even though the course was unique and apparently fun to ride, it was still worthy its high-class level including traps and difficulties: Marcus Ehning was the first to make the experience. One would have thought that after Ehning’s mistake Kevin Staut and Jessica Kuerten would try another tactics to avoid mistakes, but both accelerated to full speed before the last oxer… and both smashed down the last fence!
“My mare is like a Lamborghini, it feels amazing and is exceptional, but it can still be steered into a tree – and that’s what happened tonight”, laughed Jessica Kuerten. “Libertina is an exceptional horse, she won two days ago, but I didn’t ride her perfectly today, so this fault’s on me! Even so I stay positive, my goal for this weekend was to finish among the first three and I am third - so it’s great. The Global Champions Tour is a fabulous circuit and stays my main goal this season.”
Kevin Staut is able to joke about his mistake: “I guess that I went too fast. I know that Prestige Saint Lois often makes a mistake on the last obstacle, I could have prepared that oxer better, but I got carried away in the game.” After this accumulation of faults, Edwina Alexander was the last to go in the jump-off. She basically only had to make sure to ride without faults: “Yes I had to change my strategy in the last moment and started off more slowly in order to ensure a clear round that basically meant a victory. It’s another sort of risk: I was accepting that at one single mistake I’d lose everything, but I had such a strong confidence in my Itot du Château…”
The victory was a pleasure for Edwina’s man Jan Tops, director and inventor of the Global Champions Tour, who underlined that “the event is growing with every year, with an audience that knows how to appreciate the sport. The sport is the big winner of tonight with this fantastic scenario: it’s a shame, though, that the capacity of the stadium is reduced, but still it’s a magic place and a very important stage of my circuit!”
François Bourey, the director of Jumping de Cannes, accepted the compliment but insisted on emphasizing “the sportsmanlike attitude of Kevin and Jessica, who both dashed towards the last obstacle regardless of the consequences. It was beautiful! Thank you, you two, and thank you Edwina for this other sort of risk you took in order to win.” Edwina, meanwhile, was only looking forward to a glass of champagne – until that point the only champagne she had gotten to enjoy was the champagne shower on the podium.
The story of the Global Champions Tour and France for this year is not over yet, as the circuit will make a halt in Chantilly from July 22nd - 24th. Given that a stage of the GCT is always different from all the other ones, the French audience is extremely lucky experience an amazing scenario and strong emotions two times. Summer can come!
Results of Prix Jaeger-LeCoultre de la Ville de Cannes enclosed.
Complete results sur www.jumpingcannes.com
Photo copyright : RB Presse