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A double of wins for Simon Delestre in Verona

Saturday, 28 October 2017
CSI5*-W Verona 2017

Stefano Grasso / Jumping Verona Simon Delestre had a good day in Verona, winning both CSI5* classes. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso / Jumping Verona.

France's Simon Delestre made it two-in-a-row with an extraordinary victory partnering his 12-year-old chestnut gelding Chesall Zimequest (Casall x Concerto) in the Franco Tucci jump-off at Jumping Verona this evening. In a nail-biting second round the French pair were third to go, and the crowd could only hold their breath as it seemed they had put the result beyond doubt when racing through the timers in 42.24 seconds. However it was edge-of-the-seat stuff as the last three contenders challenged them with everything they had.

Italian course designer, Uliano Vezzani, increased the degree of difficulty in this 1.50/1.55m class counting for the Longines Ranking and only six qualified for the second round. Austria’s Max Kuhner led the way against the clock but picked up a time fault with Alfa Jordan (Air Jordan Z x Lancelot), so when The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten jumped clear with Salomon (Stolzenberg x Aramis) he posted the first target in 45.66 seconds. But Delestre’s genius for riding at speed is second to none, and Chesall was like a cruise missile as the daring duo weaved their way around the course to shave more than three seconds off that.

It wasn’t the quickest time however, yesterday’s winners Niels Bruynseels and Gancia de Muze (Malito de Reves x Nimmerdor) roaring through the finish in 41.75 seconds but leaving the oxer, three from home, on the floor for four faults. Then Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat set hearts fluttering with a super-tight turnback to the second fence which, however, didn’t pay off when Cayetana (Robin II Z x Papillon Rouge) hit the next. Last in, the 2014 FEI World Cup™ Jumping champions Germany’s Daniel Deusser and Cornet d’Amour (Cornet Obolensky x Damiani), tried the same route, but they also paid the price with a fence down so it was time for Delestre to start celebrating once again.

“Chesall made a fantastic job today like he can do!” the Frenchman said. “He is amazing, he is one of the most winning horses in five-stars for the last two years, he was second here last year in the World Cup Grand Prix and he won the Grand Prix in Rome a few months ago. He has had so many wins that I can’t tell you, but he is really a special horse and it’s something special to ride him!” he said.

Talking about his decision to go the longer route to the second fence he explained, “Chesall has a big gallop, for him it was safer because when I ask him to cut a bit too short he can sometimes be a little bit scared, so this was more secure for him. But he has a really huge canter so I can keep going and I can take the fence with the first distance because he is so careful so I really don’t lose time when I go the longer way around!”

It was the French national anthem that also played out across Jumping Verona this afternoon when Delestre scorched to victory in the 1.45m Antonio Carraro speed class counting for the Longines Ranking. Last to go he demoted Spain’s Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and Dollar Girl (Dollar du Murier x Escudo I) to second place while the Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager and Sterrehof’s Bylou (Phin Phin x Niveau) finished third.

Delestre is always dangerous against the clock, but today he was partnering a relatively new ride, the nine-year-old mare Catch Me T (Contagio x Werther) which he only started competing about a month ago. And despite their relatively short time together they cruised home without looking under the slightest pressure to take the win. The future is looking good for this pair.

“She’s a new horse for me, I got her from Oleksandr Onyschenko (Ukraine) - I have a good partnership with Oleksandr now. This mare is very nice, I don’t know her as well as some other horses I ride, but she was very good today, she was really playing with me in the ring - she is careful and a very, very interesting horse,” Delestre said.

Even though he went like the wind he wasn’t quite sure if he was fast enough to beat Spain’s Alvarez Aznar, who broke the beam in 60.09 seconds when 16th of the 41 starters and who held the lead until the very end. “I knew I was fast but I didn’t know how quick this mare could be. She has a big stride but you never know until it’s done!” Delestre said after squeezing ahead to take pole position by just over half a second.

The rider who won team silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games 2014 in Normandy, France and who was individual bronze medallist at the European Championships in Aachen, Germany the following year has a special feeling about competing in Verona. It’s almost like a home from home for him.

“The first time I came here was 1993 with a pony - I think I was just 12 years old - I enjoy this show a lot! Two years ago I won the Grand Prix with Ryan, and last year I was second in the Grand Prix with Chesall Zimequest so I’m hoping for a good Grand Prix again this year!” he said. And which horse will he ride in tomorrow’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping qualifier?

“That will be my best horse, Ryan. He had one fence down yesterday, he was a bit fresh but he jumped well - he’s ready!” said the Frenchman.

 


Source: Press release from Jumping Verona // Picture © Stefano Grasso/Jumping Verona

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