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Steve Guerdat and Looping Luna win the CSI5* 1.55m The Defender Stakes at Royal Windsor Horse Show

Friday, 03 May 2024
CSI5* Royal Windsor Horse Show 2024

Photo © Royal Windsor Horse Show/Peter Nixon. Steve Guerdat and Looping Luna won Friday's CSI5* The Defender Stakes at Royal Windsor Horse Show. Photo © Royal Windsor Horse Show/Peter Nixon.



Edited press release from Royal Windsor Horse Show



His Majesty The King joined The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh for the third day of Royal Windsor Horse Show 2024, where reigning European champion Steve Guerdat took the biggest win of the day in the lead-up to Sunday's Rolex Grand Prix.

In the opening CSI5* 1.45m The Pearl Stakes, 31 of the world’s best horse-and-rider combinations tackled Bernardo Costa Cabral’s masterfully designed course. With 25 out of 31 combinations producing a double clear in this two-phase class— including some of Britain’s most exciting up-and-coming young riders such as Joseph Stockdale on Ebanking (Etoulon x VDL Sheraton) and Harry Charles on Balou du Reventon (Cornet Obolensky x Continue) — competition was fierce.

As ninth to go with his specialist speed horse MGH Candy Girl (Sligo Candy Boy x Cruising), Matthew Sampson (GBR) flew across the Castle Arena and looked unbeatable with his time a of 25.80 seconds. However, moments later it was Shane Breen (IRL) riding the 10-year-old Cato Boy (Commissario x Böckmann's Lord Pezi) who managed to make the distance in less strides to come home just 0.03 seconds faster than Sampson. None of the remaining combinations could quite match the speed and accuracy of Breen and Sampson, although Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Cash du Plessis (Orient Express HDC x Rosire) came closest with a third place over a second slower.

Photo © Royal Windsor Horse Show/Peter Nixon. Shane Breen and Cato Boy, winners of the CSI5* The Pearl Stakes at Royal Windsor Horse Show. Photo © Royal Windsor Horse Show/Peter Nixon.

Breen said: “I’m very pleased for Cato Boy. It’s always lovely to compete at Windsor, so to be here again and to open my account with a win is always a great start. I was after Matt Sampson, so I watched his round. We’ve got two quite different horses, so I watched how many strides he was doing between each fence and then I decided to do a stride less and it worked in my favour with Cato Boy. It was my day today.”

Talking about the show, Breen continued: “I’m not even noticing the rain, it’s always wonderful to be here in Windsor – there’s royalty, there’s tradition, so many different events going on, all the trade stands – it’s all really well organised and it’s a great event.”

The feature class of the day was The Defender Stakes, a 1.55m jump-off class. The course proved to cause challenges throughout and it wasn’t until Laura Kraut (USA) and Bisquetta (Bisquet Balou C x Takashi Van Berkenbroek) as sixth to go that anyone posted a clear round. Kraut was followed in quick succession by British legend John Whitaker, who secured a place in the jump-off aboard Arqana de Riverland (Cornet Obolensky x Diamant de Semilly). In total, 14 made it through to the jump-off, including home favourites Harry Charles and Aralyn Blue (Chacco-Blue x Ludwig AS), Robert Whitaker and Vermento (Argento x Skippy 12), Joseph Stockdale and Equine America Cacharel (Cachas x Quinar Z) as well as Ben Maher and Ginger-Blue (Plot Blue x Royal Bravour).

Lorenzo de Luca and Denver de Talma (Vigo Cece x Canturo Bois Margot) were the first to take on the shortened jump-off course and set an impressive standard, going clear in 37.95 seconds. However, with a big field to follow — including World, European and Olympic medalists — his lead was by no means secure. Laura Kraut, a gold medalist at last year’s PanAm Games, then shaved 0.2 seconds of de Luca’s time to take over the lead in the early stages. 

Photo © Royal Windsor Horse Show/Peter Nixon. His Majesty The King Charles III alongside Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh at Royal Windsor Horse. Photo © Royal Windsor Horse Show/Peter Nixon.

The lead changed on several occasions in the run-in with Giulia Martinengo Marquet (ITA) and Delta Del'Isle (Tibet Tame x Grain de Soleil) – who was making her Royal Windsor Horse Show debut – taking over the top spot from Kraut, before herself being usurped by Steve Guerdat (SUI) and Looping Luna (Lord Fauntleroy x Calido I). The London 2012 Olympic champion set a time of 35.67 seconds with Looping Luna, to take a lead almost one second faster than Martinengo Marquet. 

Guerdat said: “I am very happy with the win, it’s always great to win at the places you like – and I really like it here at Windsor – and I am especially happy for my mare. I have had her for a while and we have had some struggles together, then at the beginning of the year she started to jump really well and the feeling was getting better and better. She won a 1.50m last week and now a win here again, so I am excited for the future with her. It’s so nice to ride her against the clock, she loves going fast, she has a big stride and she turns really well. I know she is fast so I actually don’t need to watch what the others do, I just trust her natural speed and enjoy the ride.”

Looking ahead to the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday, Guerdat said: “It’s going to be a tough class on Sunday. I brought my top horse, Dynamix De Belheme, for the Rolex Grand Prix, she won the 5* in Fontainebleau last week. She’s in good form and I hope that I can do something good with her on Sunday.”


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