The French riders kept impressing in Oslo during Saturday’s Rikstoto Grand Prix with three challengers in the jump-off, but they were held out of the podium where Pieter Devos and Espoir (Surcouf de Revel x Laudanum) reigned on top. The Belgian combination produced a spot-on jump-off and had almost two seconds down to runners-up Yuri Mansur Guerios and Babylotte (Dollar du Murier x Concorde) with Edwina Tops-Alexander and Lintea Tequila (Campbell x Corrado II) right behind them in third.
It was a fair, but challenging course that met the riders and horses in Oslo. For many of them this was the first indoor show of the season, and Louis Konickx’s 13 fence-track gave them a nice start. It almost looked easy even, after Simon Delestre, Kevin Staut and Pieter Devos had produced three nice rounds as the first five riders had finished. But the triple combination at fence four placed straight out of the corner caused difficulties for many riders, as did the related distance from nine to the oxer at number ten where several riders had problems with the four short strides and had to see the front pole of the oxer down.
After 47 riders the jump-off was cut down to 11 combinations and eight fences including the a and b element from the former triple combination. The combination was followed by a line where the riders chose seven or eight strides down to an oxer before they had to turn back over the penultimate vertical to finish on a bend line to the final oxer.
The two French speed-machines, Simon Delestre and Kevin Staut, were first to go. Simon made a beautiful inside-turn to the oxer at fence three and kept a good canter with his new ride Chadino (Chacco-Blue x Narew XX) to cross the finish line on a clean sheet and the time 45,15. It looked fast, but not unbeatable.
Kevin turned outside to fence three, but good distances and Aran’s (Manhattan x Colino) big canter made it possible to shave off more than two seconds on Simon’s time.
Next to go were Pieter and Espoir. Although this was only their second 5* Grand Prix, they produced the perfect jump-off with accurate turns, especially to fence three and also to the penultimate vertical. “I know I have a fast horse, but I was very happy with him because I have never jumped this height with him so fast so it was a challenge to see how he would react. But it worked out very well. I had this horse for one year and I have built him up slowly and four weeks ago I became Belgian Champion with him,” Pieter said after his win.
None of the riders to come could do anything about Pieter’s 40,59 seconds. Martin Fuchs, Peder Fredricson and Mathieu Billot all had fence three down as they were not able to get a good stride after the short inside turn. Gudrun Pattet had an early fence down, while Henrik von Eckermann got the penultimate vertical down.
Yuri Mansur and Edwina Tops-Alexander came closest with only 0,21 seconds separating the two, but with two seconds up to Pieter. “I think until the last line I was faster than him, but I lost a little time there,” Yuri explained on the press conference. “I didn’t turn very well and to the last fence I had one stride more so I think I lost it there,” he continued.
“After I saw Pieter my plan was getting difficult,“ Edwina laughed after her third place. “This is Lintea Tequila’s first show back after the Olympics so I was really happy with her performance. She has not really jumped for eight weeks so I think I made a good plan, but I did one too many after the double. I did a very short turn which was great, but I got a bit deep and the seven (strides) were not there for me today,” Edwina explained.
Text © World of Showjumping // Picture © Nanna Nieminen for World of Showjumping
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