The second leg of the Longines FEI World Cup in the Western European league was won by Patrice Delaveau and Orient Express HDC (Quick Star x Le Tot de Semilly). Part two of the World Cup series took place in Helsinki, Finland Sunday afternoon – and coming in as second-last to go in the jump-off Delaveau stole the victory from Steve Guerdat who yet again had to see himself in runner-up position, just like last weekend in the opening leg in Oslo.
Eight riders produced clears over the first round track that proved to be tricky enough. First of all because the arena in Helsinki is tiny which causes the massive fences to come up extremely quick and without pause, and secondly because of the challenging elements in the track. Both the combination and triple combination – an oxer-vertical-oxer towards the end of the course – proved to be demanding. The jump-off track was reduced to seven fences and included the option for tight turns, and the usual long gallop to the last – a vertical.
Malin Baryard-Johnsson was the first to go in the jump-off after a fabulous first clear on the lovely H&M Tornesch (Lux x Libero H). After an eye operation this summer, the stallion is now back in competition – and seemingly unaffected by having less vision than before. Tornesch yet again jumped a beautiful clear under Malin, and crossed the finish line on 38.03 seconds to set the pressure on those to come. The two following riders, Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs on Conte Della Caccia (Canturo x Corrado I) and Spain’s Julio Arias on Quinai des Chayottes (Zandor Z x Quito de Baussy), had a pole down each and Malin thus kept her lead.
Steve Guerdat and the fantastic Nino des Buissonnets (Kannan x Narcos II) were next in the ring, and yet again produced a great round against the clock – taking over the lead with 35.99 seconds. Afterwards Steve said; “I have one of the few horses that is airborne! To be honest, I should have taken more risks today. I rode a very safe jump-off without taking any risks. I didn’t know whether I was going to ride today until the very last moment, and in the end, I am very happy with the result”.
Luciana Diniz really gave it a go on the lovely Winningmood (Darco x Cassini), but lost time when she got out of balance following the jump out of the combination leaving her at 38.20 seconds which eventually was good enough for fifth. Ireland’s Shane Breen was next to go on the incredible stallion Balloon (Balou du Rouet x Landcapitol) and produced a fantastic second round at well on 37.14 seconds – slotting into second position between Steve and Malin. “Balloon was terrific this weekend,” Breen said after the competition. “I saw Steve go and I know how quick he is – it was going to take something special to beat him today. I was a bit wide at the double but I’m delighted with my clear. Patrice was always going to be really fast, and I am thrilled to have come third!”
Orient Express HDC and Patrice then entered the ring. Together the two are known as one of the fastest couples on the scene, and they never leave the ring without trying to win. Living up to his name the stallion did an incredible fast round under Delaveau who got a perfect turn to the the combination before he raced around to the following oxer and then putting the stallion in top gear on the final stretch to the last vertical, shaving off 1.5 seconds on Steve’s time at an incredible 34.23 seconds. Last to go Michael Whitaker could do nothing about the top three as Amai had the final element of the combination down. “I saw Steve take the lead two horses before, and I knew he would be quick and very difficult to overcome. I really had to perform at my best to beat him today, and I’m delighted I did,” Patrice said after his win. On his fantastic horse, Delaveau added; “Orient Express is an exceptional horse with great quality and a massive heart. He is undoubtedly one of the best horses in Europe – he’s a real gem!”
Result: 1, Orient Express HDC (Patrice Delaveau) FRA 0/0 34.23; 2, Nino des Buissonnets (Steve Guerdat) SUI 0/0 35.99; 3, Balloon (Shane Breen) IRL 0/037.14; 4, H&M Tornesch (Malin Baryard-Johnson) SWE 0/0 38.03; 5, Winningmood (Luciana Diniz) POR 0/0 38.20; 6, Quinai des Chayottes (Julio Arias) ESP 0/4 36.11; 7, Amai (Michael Whitaker) GBR 0/4 36.27; 8, Conte Della Caccia (Martin Fuchs) SUI 0/4 40.95; 9, Silvana HDC (Kevin Staut) FRA 4/60.88; 10, VDL Groep Sapphire B (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED 4/62.25.
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