2015 European vice-champion, Gregory Wathlet, triumphed in Friday's Longines Speed Challenge aboard Egano van het Slogenhof (Electro x Nagano). Nicknamed 'the fastest class in the world', the Longines Speed Challenge is always a treat and that was also the case last night in Paris with an extraordinary amount of energy from the enthusiastic crowds pushing the riders to go faster and faster.
The novelty of the Longines Speed Challenge is that a knockdown is penalized with just two seconds, so that a very fast round can make up for a small mistake; one of the reasons behind the evening's incredible atmosphere. The other unusual feature of the class is that the course is exactly the same in Los Angeles, Paris and Hong Kong. This is the only international competition that does this. Perhaps this allows the riders to take even more risks?
"I had a plan", confided the winner with a smile, "and I managed to stick to it all the way round. Or almost. With that knockdown at the end of the course, I really didn't think that I would stay in the lead, but I did." Because Gregory had to see the vertical at number 12 fall to the ground - but still it was good enough for the win as the total time ended on 60.18 after two seconds added.
Young British rider Jessica Mendoza finished second with the only faultless round of the three on the podium, aboard Ramiro de Belle Vue (Mozart Des Hayettes x Capricieux Des Six Censes) when stopping the clock on 61.32 seconds.
"Every year there are more and more riders and good horses at the Longines Speed Challenge, and every year there are more and more spectators," declared third placed Roger Yves Bost afterwards, who like Wathelet had the vertical at twelve down on Pegase du Murier (Adelfos x Le Tot de Semilly) to finish on 61.50. Bosty knows what he's talking about since, out of six editions, he has been on the podium five times!
Source: Press release from Longines Masters of Paris
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