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Delestre and Guery put St Tropez Pirates in pole position of Paris GCL

Friday, 30 June 2017
CSI5* LGCT Paris 2017

Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/GCL. Simon Delestre with Chesall Zimequest for St Tropez Pirates. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/GCL.

Round one of the Global Champions League of Paris kicked off on Friday, in style in the shadow of the iconic Eiffel Tower with the St Tropez Pirates duo of Simon Delestre and Jerome Guery taking their third consecutive pole position of the season.

Hamburg Diamonds’ Harrie Smolders and Audrey Coulter put themselves on the front row of the grid, with a strong second today, and the Monaco Aces pairing of Danielle Goldstein and Pieter Devos pulled it out of the hat to take third today, with the duo the fastest of all the teams despite their four faults. 

Uliano Vezzani set a thought-prevoking course, with riders given options and challenges around the arena. The time allowed of 84 seconds caused a few problems, with many picking up painful faults - all of which could prove influential in the final result.

‘Delicacy’ was the word of the day, with the combination tripping up a few of the top team riders. A light, full-height vertical at the end caught out a few such as Laura Kraut of the Rome Gladiators, and Cascais Charms’ U25 rider Philip Houston. Paris Panthers' Darragh Kenny had the back rail of the oxer, before taking out another pole to collect eight faults for the home team. 

First to go clear was the popular home hero Simon Delestre of the St Tropez Pirates, with Delestre’s chestnut gelding Chesall Zimequest (Casall x Concerto 4) taking the course in his stride. Jerome Guery carried the weight of his teammate’s clear on his shoulders, entering the ring with his top horse Grand Cru van de Rozenberg (Malito de Reve x Heartbreaker). But it was no problem for the ice cool Belgian, who delivered a team double clear, shooting the Pirates up the leaderboard, with Delestre cheering on from the kiss n’ cry enthusiastically.

Pressure was on the reigning champions Valkenswaard United, but star striker Alberto Zorzi showcased his phenomenal consistency, producing a foot-perfect clear with Cinsey (Contendro I x For Pleasure) to pass the baton on to teammate Bertram Allen. Riding the young Izzy By Picobello (Cicero Z x Capriano), Bertram revealed the team’s strategy of jumping slow and clear as he kept the pace steady, but clipped the vertical picking up four faults. As they picked up the speed and raced to the last, Bertram had one eye on the clock, but the current leaders also collected a time fault - uncharacteristically for the normally fast-paced Irish rider.

Miami Glory’s Denis Lynch put in a strong round with the grey RMF Bella Baloubet (Baloubet du Rouet x Landadel), picking up just four faults. Teammate Georgina Bloomberg cheered on before taking over the reins with Manodie II H (Carthago x Zeus). The American rider put in a valiant round, unluckily clipping the final element of the triple combination to put the team on a score of eight overall but still in the running for a podium.

The crowd groaned as French Olympic rider Roger-Yves Bost of the Shanghai Swans took out the final vertical, plus picking up a time fault to boot. Another to fall foul of the time allowed was Hamburg Diamonds' Audrey Coulter, who delivered a beautiful clear on Capital Colnardo (Colman x Coronado), but picked up the bittersweet one time penalty.

Diamonds teammate Harrie Smolders brought out his top stallion Don VHP Z (Diamant de Semilly x Voltaire), with the expressive liver chestnut eating up the ground with his huge stride. A masterful clear from the flying Dutchman shot the team up the leaderboard, with the team in a strong position heading into tomorrow’s final.

More clears came from Cannes Stars’ Christian Kukuk, who teamed up with legend Ludger Beerbaum for the first time in the League. Speaking after his round he said: “We know each other well, he can give me tips and it’s fun - a pleasure for me!” But all the experience and multiple Olympic medals couldn’t keep Ludger Beerbaum clear, as the top German rider picked up an unusual sixteen faults.

So it was the St Tropez Pirates who took pole position in Paris, with Delestre and Guery keen to avoid a repeat of their recent results when the pressure came down to the final. Tactics will come into play, with all eyes on the teams to see who will field rider and / or horse changes, and what the final line-up for tomorrow’s event will be.


Source: Press release from GCL / Picture © Stefano Grasso/GCL

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