New day, and new French victory at the Gucci Paris Masters. That was the conclusion after all the riders had crossed the finish line in the eleven horse jump-off in the 1.50 meter Trophée Salon du Cheval-Ceneca on Saturday. It all opened well for the French as Roger Yves Bost – yesterday’s winner of the Longines Speed Challenge – went in as rider number one and cleared the twelve fence track on the 11 year old mare Nikyta d’Elle (Richebourg x Papillon Rouge). Eleven more riders went clear the first time around; but Alvaro de Miranda did not do the jump-off on AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno (Baloubet du Rouet x Elanville). Nick Skelton and his wonderful stallion Big Star (Quick Star x Nimmerdor) also pulled off a beautiful performance, but had an unlucky time fault.
With a strong field of fast riders, the jump-off was bound to be a race. The track was shortened to seven fences including an oxer-vertical combination midway, and opened for some real galloping and a few tight turns. Bosty opened the show again, but had the back pole of the a-element in the combination down in his chase for the victory. Rodrigo Pessoa and the lovely grey Winsom (Celano x Animo) had two poles down, while Denis Lynch produced a super fast round on Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Nonstop x Jus de Pomme) – getting the perfect angel to the penultimate Gucci vertical and then racing to the last oxer stopping the clock at 35 seconds. The Irish rider took the lead, and it looked difficult to beat.
Gucci-sponsored Edwina Tops-Alexander and Guccio (Quick Star x Cantus) went for a steady version, but the back pole on the final oxer fell and the pair was left with four faults. Rolf-Göran Bengtsson on the other hand went flat out on Carusso LS La Silla – keen to do better than yesterday. A really tight turn to the penultimate vertical and a gallop to the final oxer gave the two a time of 36.36 seconds – in the end good enough for fourth.
Then it was time for Simon and the nine year old Whisper (Gentleman x Sit This One Out). The mare has some huge strides, and covers a lot of ground without much effort which came in handy on all the stretches in the jump-off. The French rider is always fast, and just galloped on – crossing the finish line on 34.02 seconds – taking the lead to the celebration of the home crowd. The only of the riders left that was close to Simon was Ben Maher on the Andiamo-gelding Aristo Z. Ben really gave it a go, and was super fast – especially on the last line – but at 34.27 he was a little behind, and had to settle for second ahead of Denis and Rolf in third and fourth.
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