The Longines Speed Challenge is a world speed championship over three continents and, once again, it more than lived up to expectations. Right from their first discovery lap, the riders all sung the praises of the new course designed by course designer Louis Konickx. They went as far as to deem it one of the best ever seen in the Longines Speed Challenge.
It was a packed house and the crowd was on fire as the curtain went up on the event. And temperatures continued to rise. Whenever a French rider went out onto the track, the crowd went crazy. “It’s hot out there,” confirmed Kevin Staut.
“The energy from the crowd is palpable. You can’t help but be carried away by their enthusiasm. I didn’t plan to go so fast, I didn’t feel ready but in the end, I couldn’t help myself. Ayade de Septon* HDC revelled in the atmosphere too.” The crowd’s fervour buoyed Staut through a stunning round, placing him in the top spot on the leaderboard. A number of serious contenders had yet to compete, but he had set the bar high. Then came Julien Epaillard and Cristallo A LM, a pairing that thrives on speed. Imperturbable despite the challenge that they faced, they knocked an incredible 66 hundredths of a second off the best time! World #4 Lorenzo de Luca was the last to enter the fray and had had time to take everything in. “I knew there was no way of beating him,” he admitted with a smile. “You have to be realistic. Still, I went as fast as I could and I’m delighted with a podium spot.”
The dazzling victory of Cristallo A LM (LM for Laiterie de Montaigu) was the culmination of an extraordinary evening for this loyal partner of the Longines Masters and sponsor of the Masters One Laiterie de Montaigu curtain-raiser event. “The Friday evening events are the ideal opportunity to turn the spotlight on the company and to invite our clients along. This evening’s Grand Prix was wonderful, with riders giving it their all during the jump-off and an enthusiastic audience eagerly looking forward to the Longines Speed Challenge as they let off some steam at the end of the week,” explained Caroline Di Stefano, Managing Director of Laiterie de Montaigu. “We mustn’t forget that the Longines Masters of Paris is a partnership close to our hearts, it’s where everything began.” This partnership was indeed the first of many for Laiterie de Montaigu, which has since become heavily involved in show jumping, with an array of top-level sponsoring agreements. They have also acquired several horses, entrusted to Julien Epaillard and, more recently, Philippe Rozier. “The benefits of these partnerships are clear – you only have to listen to our guests. We have an amazing time together. This evening, it was as if it was their own horses and riders out there. When they won, our table went wild!”
This magical evening is just a taster for tomorrow when we will finally discover the all-new Riders Masters Cup event, a series of duels between the United States and Europe to be contested for the first time ever tomorrow evening. The European riders are raring to go. “Lorenzo and I have had a trial run to prepare our horses for tomorrow evening,” teased Kevin Staut after the Longines Speed Challenge. Here’s betting they will go for broke again tomorrow evening! #WaveYourFlag
For more information visit longinesmasters.com