The riders of the CSIO5* came into the main arena early in the afternoon in La Baule. 64 pairs were on the start list of the FFE French Tour – Generali class, a 1.50m qualifier against the clock for the Longines Grand Prix of the city of La Baule.
The course designed by Frédéric Cottier proved to be selective, just like the time allowed (80 seconds) and only seven pairs managed to go clear within the time.
On the favorites' side, world no. one Simon Delestre (FRA) got two penalty points for exceeding the time allowed with Qlassic Bois Margot, Kevin Staut (FRA) had a rail down with Elky van Het Indihof HDC, just like Bertram Allen (IRL) and Romanov. British rider Scott Brash and Hello Guv’nor completed the course with five penalty points, just like Patrice Delaveau (FRA), Steve Guerdat (SWI) as well as Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER).
On the other hand, Canadian rider Eric Lamaze – 2008 Olympic Champion – handled the difficulties perfectly with his mare Fine Lady 5 (Forsyth x Drosselklang II). Runner-up position went to Belgian rider Gudrun Patteet on Sea Coast Atlantic (Schilling x Aramis de la Cense), who was more than a second behind Lamaze. Brazil's Stephan De Freitas Barcha and Quentin PJ (Quidam de Revel x Escudo) finished third, more than six seconds behind the winning time. Fourth was USA's Margie Goldstein-Engel, and fifth Dutch rider Johnny Pals.
“She’s fast, but it’s also been a long time since she was on the grass,” said Lamaze, who has not competed Fine Lady 5 on grass footing since the 2015 CSIO5* Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament in Calgary, AB, last September where they won the $35,000 1.50m ATCO Cup, placed second in the $35,000 1.50m TELUS Cup, and were members of the third-placed Canadian Team in the $300,000 BMO Nations’ Cup.
“I felt like I could go extra-fast and use the fences to slow her down,” continued Lamaze of the 13-year-old Hanoverian mare. “Fine Lady is the perfect horse to do this class with on opening day. I’m especially pleased because La Baule is a show that I like to do well at; it is one of my favourite competitions.”
Source: Press release from Jumping International La Baule and Starting Gate Communications // Picture © Jenny Abrahamsson
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