After a disappointing appearance in Friday’s Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup, Jerome Guery returned strong to win Sunday’s CSIO5* Longines Grand Prix in La Baule. With his performance, Guery – who earlier this year secured one of two Olympic individual tickets for Belgium – showed that he could have more than one horse to take to Rio and that his winning partner Grand Cru van de Rozenberg (Malito de Reves x Heartbreaker) is perfectly capable of jumping the biggest tracks in the world.
On a sunny day in La Baule, where every seat was taken and every standing space filled, eleven of the 49 riders in the 1.60 Grand Prix went clear over Frederic Cottier’s first round track. The elements of the course that caused most head ache was the line from the open water at five followed by seven strides to an oxer at six and then four to a vertical set as fence seven, as well as the triple combination with a vertical-oxer-vertical not to forget the last testing line with an oxer followed by five short strides to an upright and then a final line to the last oxer. Among those who did not make it on a clean sheet were big names like Ludger Beerbaum who fell victim to the vertical on the line from the water, Eric Lamaze and Cian O’Connor who both had rails in the triple combination and home hero Roger Yves Bost who took the two last fences on the final line.
First to go in the jump-off was USA’s Margie Goldstein-Engel on Royce (Cafe Au Lait x Grandilot). Following up on a strong double clear from Friday’s Nations Cup, the American veteran went clear again – making sure that Chef d’Equipe Robert Ridland will have to highlight her name on the US short list for Rio. The time look beatable though, as Goldstein-Engel did not take that very last risk.
Home hero Kevin Staut followed on Elky van het Indihof HDC (Toulon x Thunder van de Zuuthoeve) and set off over the shortened seven fence track, that included the last two parts of the former triple combination a little over halfway around. Staut however, took two rails with him and recorded eight faults. Like Staut, Ireland’s Bertram Allen also fell victim to the a-element of the combination and had one rail down aboard the 18-year-old Romanov (Heartbreaker x Fedor).
Penelope Leprevost was next to go for host nation France, and the temperature rose in La Baule. The world’s leading lady rider set off in usual style, and got two very good and tight turns to the oxers set as three and four and made sure to support Flora de Mariposa (For Pleasure x Power Light) a little into the combination to avoid any mistakes before she set off to the penultimate upright and did a tight turn to the last oxer crossing the finish line to take over the lead in 36.19 seconds. The crowds went crazy, taking to their feet for a standing ovation. “Flora is amazing,” commented Penelope afterwards. “She is just unbelievable; she is my Jappeloup.”
Leprevost’s compatriot Cedric Angot was the third French rider in the jump-off, but could not match Penelope as Saxo de la Cour (Dollar de La Pierre x Jalisco B) had the penultimate vertical down with the hind legs. Dutch rider Johnny Pals on the very well jumping Fernando (For Pleasure x Corrado I) did another superb clear round, slotting into a temporary second – eventually it was good enough for fourth place with a time of 38.14 seconds.
Colombia’s Rene Lopez on Con Dios III (Colman x Romino) was the first rider to take out a stride and go on seven on the first line, but did not have luck on his side and later had the front pole of the oxer into the combination down. USA’s Lucy Davis and Barron (For Pleasure x Nabab de Reve), also double clear in Friday’s Nations Cup, started well and took out a stride on the first line but had to see a pole fall – for them it was the front rail on the fourth oxer that fell to the ground. Belgium’s Gudrun Patteet delivered another good clear round on Sea Cost Pebbles Z (Picasso Z x Flamenco de Semilly), going in behind Goldstein-Engel to a temporary fourth place.
And so it was time for Belgium’s charismatic pair Jerome Guery and Grand Cru van de Rozenberg, a horse that has been produced slowly by Guery all the way to the top from 1.30-level. Guery set off determinedly and went for seven forward strides on the first line, and kept on going – with the 10-year-old gelding’s staying careful all the way as the Belgian rider kept on pushing through the final turn to the last Longines oxer. Crossing the finish line on 35.74 seconds, Guery took over the lead after a magnificent round.
Even Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum could not catch Guery. Fibonacci (For Feeling x Corland) jumped extra-ordinary, but almost used a bit too much time in the air – and slotted into third with a time of 38.05 seconds. Michaels-Beerbaum did her first appearance in La Baule in 1991, and was happy to be back: “This year I told my Chef d’Equipe early on ‘I would like to go to La Baule’. It was a great honor for me to be here, I had a wonderful stay here – my horses jumped beautiful and I was delighted with my finish today.”
As to the winner himself, he was more than happy with Grand Cru van de Rozenberg: "La Baule was emotional for me. I am very proud of this win, especially with Grand Cru as I bough him just over a year ago and he was only jumping 1.20 classes back then. He has had an incredible development and we could see all winter that he had the potential to become a super horse. Today he showed that he is part of the league that is those best horses, so I am extremely happy!"
Text © World of Showjumping // Pictures © Tiffany van Halle
This photo has been added to your cart !Your shopping cart »