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Lightning fast De Luca wows crowds at final day in Paris

Sunday, 02 July 2017
CSI5* LGCT Paris 2017

Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT. Lorenzo de Luca and Halifax van het Kluizebos. Photo (c) Stefano Grasso/LGCT.

The final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour - Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping saw temperatures rise as speed merchant Lorenzo De Luca (ITA) wowed the crowd with Halifax van het Kluizebos (Heartbreaker x Fetiche du Pas) in the CSI5* Massimo Dutti Eiffel Challenge.

Uliano Vezzani’s final course came thick and fast, featuring a tricky triple combination at the midway point, with a tall upright right by the in-gate poised to catch the very best athletes out. The final line featured water trays, with a three stride related distance the challenge for the 50 starters. Indeed it would be that combination which caught out many of the riders, with Laura Kraut (USA) and Whitney (Indoctro x Concorde), Jérôme Guery (BEL) with Papillon Z (Perhaps v Berkenbroek x San Patrignano Cassini) and Emily Moffitt (GBR) with Galip (Nonstop x Feo) all tripped up by the final line. The crowd groaned in despair as home star Kevin Staut (FRA) also rolled the final pole with Ayade de Septon et HDC (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Belle d'Avril du Mazy), disappointment written all over the face of the Olympic gold medallist.

First to go clear was Bertram Allen (IRL) with GK Casper (Canto x Quantum), who put in an athletic display as the pair flew around the tricky course. Ben Maher (GBR) seems to be on flying form, after Quilata (Quidam de Revel x Latus I) pulled out her second clear round of the weekend and the popular Harrie Smolders (NED) looked to be riding the crest of a wave of success, as he joined those in the jump-off.

Scott Brash (GBR) put in a strong effort with Hello Senator (Carambole x Indoctro), the up-and-coming gelding leaping enthusiastically around the arena. The duo looked strong, until the final line knocked them off balance, with both elements down and ruling them out of contention. Last night’s winner Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Instit de Jucaso (Cooper van de Heffinck x Darco) ran into trouble as they took out the front bar of the oxer, with the popular duo knocked out of the running.

Jessica Springsteen (USA) put in a spectacular round with the expressive grey gelding Cynar V (Clarimo x Alcatraz). Watched on by her parents Bruce and Patti Springsteen, the American talent put in a flawless display, with the speedy combination rocketing towards a jump-off place. Hot on her heels was Italian Lorenzo De Luca and Halifax van het Kluizebos, the formidable pairing one of the hot favourites for the win. Chances are the cheers would have been heard from the top of the Eiffel Tower, as home hero Roger-Yves Bost (FRA) went clear on Sydney une Prince (Baloubet du Rouet x Alfa d'Elle).

So it would be a 11 rider jump-off, with Emilio Bicocchi (ITA) and Call Me (Contendro II x Julio Mariner xx), Christian Kukuk (GER) with Limonchello NT (Lord Caletto x Calido I), Kamal Abdullah Bahamdan (KSA) with Lacasino (Lordanos x Cassini I), Jos Verlooy (BEL) with Apollonia 23 (Bogegaardens Apollo x Bogegårdens Capell) and Pieter Devos (BEL) with Apart (Larino x Burggraaf) joining those clear.

First to go, speed demon Bertram Allen set a blistering pace to stop the clock in 37.20s. But Ben Maher revved up the race with the elastic Quilata, flying over the fences to better the Irishman’s result with a time of 36.37s - over a full second faster.

The pressure was on the rest of the field to come, with Harrie Smolders and Zinius (Nabab de Reve x Kannan) and Christian Kukuk picking up faults. Jos Verlooy looked strong, until pushing to the finish he rolled the final pole with Apollonia 23. Further drama came from Kamal Abdullah Bahamdan with Lacasino, after the gelding refused midway round the course.

The crowd cheered as Jessica Springsteen and Cynar V entered the ring, with the popular rider taking to the tough track. The grey gelding left plenty of air between his hooves and the jumps, with the duo riding a superb double clear in a time of 40.98s, just behind the leaders.

The jump-off once again moved up a gear as F1-fast Lorenzo de Luca rocketed around the arena with Halifax van het Kluizebos. Sharp out of the fences, the lightning quick pair raced to the finish, two seconds up at one point, before flying across the line to set the new time to beat at 35.89s much to crowd’s delight.

All around the arena silence fell as Roger-Yves Bost and Sydney une Prince put the pedal to the medal all around the course. With a tight turn back to the vertical, the crowd gasped as the pair cleared the fences, powering to the final line. It was a valiant try, but not enough to topple De Luca’s time, stopping the clocks in 36.32s.

Final rider to go Pieter Devos and Apart had all the pressure on his shoulders, but kept his cool to speed around the arena. It was a great try, but not enough for a podium position, with the duo finishing in 36.72s and fourth overall.

So the win would go to Lorenzo De Luca, with Roger-Yves Bost in second and Ben Maher rounding out the top three.

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

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