Belgium’s Pieter Devos and his eye-catching chestnut horse Apart blazed the way in this afternoon’s CSI5* class, as the Eiffel Tower provided the backdrop to the first day of competition on the Longines Global Champions Tour - Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping.
The eight rider jump off had crowds on the edge of their seat, with the pair taking the lion’s share of the 62,000 euros prize money in the high octane competition in the French capital. Speaking after his exhilarating round, a delighted Pieter said: “I did my own plan and I’m happy. This is an amazing place to jump, it’s a really fantastic show.”
Uliano Vezzani set a thought-prevoking course, with riders given options and challenges around the arena. The time allowed of 84 seconds caused a few problems, with many such as Eric van der Vleuten (NED) picking up painful faults, as well as Audrey Coulter (USA), Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Alexandra Thornton (GBR).
‘Delicacy’ was the word of the day, with the double combination tripping up a few of the top team riders. A light, full-height vertical at the end caught out a few such as Laura Kraut (USA) and Confu, and Philip Houston (GER) and Loewenherz. Darragh Kenny (IRL) had the back rail of the oxer, before taking out another pole to collect 8 faults for the home team. Jack Hardin Towell (USA) agonisingly had the first fence down with Emilie de Diamant A S, but the pair recovered quickly to finish the rest of the round clear, despite becoming another combination to pick up a time fault.
Clears came throughout however, with Simon Delestre (FRA) leading the field to the jump-off, with eight through. Jerome Guery (BEL) and Harrie Smolders (NED) however elected not to compete in order that their horses were as rested as much possible for the big day of competition tomorrow.
The jump-off provided a very fast course with plenty of ground to cover. Home hero Delestre was first out the starting gate, setting off at a pace to reaching the first fence in five strides. But their speed proved costly, as the pair clipped it picking up faults. The French rider leapt over the oxer and galloped to the vertical, heading towards the long stretch home but agonisingly hit the corner jump making it to the finish line in 36.85 and receiving eight faults on Chesall Zimequest.
Alberto Zorzi (ITA) was next out on Cinsey and kept up his pace throughout, landing a solid second with a clear in 38.72 time, setting the pace to beat. Christian Kukuk (GER) and Limonchello NT lands his first with a big stride before losing some time on the lines as he’s not the fastest horse over the ground. However, Christian keeps his turns as tight as possible and makes up some time finishing on 39.15 making third place.
Carlos Lopez (CO) and Cuplandra are a very competitive and fast combination. Hugely economical over the fences, Cuplandra looked like a thoroughbred, flat out to the fences. True to their reputation, they manage a fantastic turn over the oxer but knocked a pole on the vertical by the VIP hospitality. Not managing to topple Zorzi’s time, Lopez left the jump-off with a time of 44.35s keeping the door open for the final two.
Pieter Devos (GER) entered the arena on Apart - again galloping to the first in five strides. The pair lost ground on the turn as the top Belgian rider lost grip of the reins, however picks up the pace, making up the time at the vertical to come in clear and well ahead of the field with a time of 36.15s.
The final rider in the jump-off was Peder Fredricson (SWE) on H&M Christian K who kept a neat round together. The pair were a little behind at the oxer, and the crowd groaned as the duo knocked the final fence; finishing up in fourth with a time of 37.81s.
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