"I can't believe it!” said a delighted Edwina Tops-Alexander after winning the CSI5* Grand Prix Hermès in Paris – that turned out to be a dramatic one.
The track set by German course designer Frank Rothenberger had the top of the world struggling: Out of the 47 starters, thirteen retired and one was eliminated. The course had thirteen obstacles and sixteen efforts in it. Everything was built in an extremely delicate way, with airy fences and planks. As the arena in Grand Palais is fairly small, the challenges followed each other in rapid speed, with no room for errors.
It wasn't until rider number eleven in the ring that the first clear round came from the young and talented Bertram Allen (IRL) on the 13-year-old mare Molly Malone (Kannan x Cavalier). After Allen it was just faults after faults, as many of the best combinations in the world struggled under the breathtaking lights of the Grand Palais’ glass ceiling.
Penelope Leprevost (FRA) on the 12-year-old stallion Vagabond de la Pomme (Vigo D'Arsouilles x For Pleasure) made the French crowd go wild when delivering the second clear round of the day, and securing the jump-off as starter number 41.
As last to go in the class, Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) on the 10-year-old mare California (L'Esprit x Libero H) also joined the jump-off after delivering the third clear round of the day.
First to go in the jump-off, Bertram Allen had an unfortunate rail down on the second last fence with a time of 39,20 seconds. Penelope Leprevost seemed to go for a clear round without risking too much and did just that – setting the time to beat to 41,44 seconds much to the joy of the Paris crowds.
Tops-Alexander came out as the last to go in the jump-off with her fairly new mount California. The pair did a picture perfect round, stopping the clocks at 41,36 seconds and taking home the prestigious win and the first prize of 132,000 Euro.
“It was a really, really difficult course,” commented Tops-Alexander. “But I knew exactly what to do and how to ride it. I was also lucky enough to start last, in the first round and in the jump-off. So I knew where the other riders had made some mistakes.”
“My mare was in excellent form,” continued Edwina. “She really did a great job, especially considering she is still a relative novice at this level of competition. We have only competed in six Grand Prix classes together. I really can’t believe it!”
German riders Ludger Beerbaum and Christian Ahlmann – former winners of the Grand Prix Hermès in 2013 and 2011 respectively – finished finished fourth and fifth on four faults each from the first round.
Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen // Source quote: Press release from Saut Hermès // Picture © Christophe Bricot
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