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WoSJ Exclusive; Kevin Staut – The Journey from Windsor to Madrid

Monday, 10 October 2011

Kevin in Madrid with Silvana de Hus. All photos by Jenny Abrahamsson.At 30 years old Kevin Staut has already managed to win an individual European gold medal, a European team silver and team silver at the WEG – not to forget that he stayed on top of the Rolex world ranking for ten months. WoSJ sat down with this brilliant French rider to talk about the journey he has had from Windsor to Madrid.

“Windsor was a fantastic moment for me! As a rider you need to remember times like that because you never know what happens next. My first good result with Kraque Boom came with the gold medal. I had been taking him on slowly, and in 2009 the results started to show,” Kevin says. “But a lot of hard work lay behind that medal. In 2003 – after I finished studying economics – I started to work for Pierre Baldeck who is a horse dealer in France and a great horseman. Pierre was actually quite like a second father to me, and always had trust in me. In 2007 Kraque Boom turned up. He was for sale and Pierre was of the opinion that I should get somebody to invest in the horse. Kraque Boom was special though; he had no good canter, was lazy and not so nice really,” Kevin smiles when telling us about the stallion that likes to get his sleep in the morning [Kevin tries not to ride him before 10-11 am as he can get really grumpy]. “Anyway, after a while he started to jump clear rounds and in the end my grandparents invested in him and they still own him today!”

"The win at the Europeans in 2009 gave me more credibility" - a proof of this is Kevin's strong string of horses - here he is on Banda de Hus.Back to before Windsor; after staying with Pierre Baldeck Kevin worked for a short time in Switzerland for Rüdi Stussi until he in 2009 – ahead of the Europeans – was approached by Xavier Marie at the stud farm Haras de Hus. Xavier wanted Kevin to come work for him; “It was a great opportunity, but I really didn’t want to move. I said to Xavier that we could speak again in two or three years time, but Xavier was persistent and asked me what I needed to come right there and then. In the end I told him that if he bought a few nice horses I would come. And he did,” Kevin smiles. “Then Xavier invested in Silvana and Le Prestige and also some other really good horses. The win at the Europeans in 2009 gave me more credibility and as a consequence investors taking interest; so today I have several good horses to choose from,” Kevin explains of his string that also consists of horses such as Zeta de Hus, Banda de Hus and Gastronom de Hus.

Silvana de Hus is at the moment Kevin’s top horse; “Silvana won a lot as a 7 and 8 year old. She has previously been ridden by Jos Lansink, and when Xavier bought her she was almost on the way to Gregory Wathelet – but she ended up with us instead at the end of CSIO Rotterdam in 2009. When she arrived at Jos Lansink’s yard she was a bit stiff, and a lot of flatwork has been done with her since,” Kevin says of the 11 year old Corland-mare that he last year won the World Cup qualifier in Geneva on – leaving superstars Eric Lamaze and Hickstead behind her.

Kevin with the green and gold Rolex armband; he was nr. one in the world for ten months. Here he is riding the charming Le Prestige de Hus.With Kevin being French it’s interesting to know if he prefers his horses to origin from his home country; “It’s important to front the French horses and breeding of course, but in the end the only thing that matter is how good the horse is. So I don’t only ride French horses, it’s a mix of breeds in the stables,” Kevin smiles. 

From July 2010 to May 2011 Kevin was number one on the Rolex World Ranking for ten consecutive months. Will we see him back on the top? “I was happy to be number one for ten months! My horses are still young, and when they become really fit I will fight to get back on top – but at the moment that’s not what matters. This season it’s been important to fight for France and to keep us over the red line in the Top League, so that’s been my priority,” Kevin explains. “I feel no pressure about getting back to number one, and neither did I feel pressure in regards to staying number one when I was at top. I mean – having a French rider on top of the ranking hadn’t happened since Eric Navet,” Staut smiles.

Kevin is not only committed to the sport inside the ring, he is also involved in the sport in other ways. In the beginning of May 2011 Kevin was the first athlete taking a place in the FEI Executive Board. “I felt it was the right thing to do as the International Jumping Riders Club had been fighting for this for so long! But I need to feel out how to manage both this and the sport; it’s demanding as you need to be prepared and I need to organize myself,” Kevin laughs. “I try to do the best for myself, my sponsors and horses – but also for our sport. I would like to work with the other members of the board to make our sport better and better,” the French rider explains.

Not only is Kevin a top rider, he is also a sought after sponsor object – you may have seen him modeling for Gucci! The photos that were released were impressive and left little doubt that Staut could have made it with an alternative career as a model, but Kevin is reluctant to go to deep in to the matter; “It’s a way of communicating the sport out. It’s all about an image,” he says modestly.

Kevin celebrating the French team silver in Madrid together with his team mates. Outside the ring you will see that Kevin spends a lot of time with his girlfriend Penelope Leprevost. When one of them is around, be sure – the other one will be right around the corner; they fit each other like a hand in a glove. But how much do they work together? “First of all; I didn’t really plan on getting together with another rider, it just happened. We work together of course, but on the same level that I work together with all the other French riders. Penelope and I try to do other things together than just the horses; we try go out and to catch a movie every now and then,” Kevin smiles.

Kevin now lives in Belgium, so he easily can access the best shows and trainers – but he still travels to Haras de Hus in Nantes, France, every month to supervise the young horses. “I also train for Henk Nooren once a week. Henk has done a lot for our team; he has a good system,“ Staut concludes before heading down the grand stand at Club de Campo to meet up with Penelope who is waiting for him in the sun. They are both riding the individual final the following day.

The journey from Windsor to Madrid has definitely been a good one for Staut.

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