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Simon Delestre leads field of world’s best on opening day at World Equestrian Center

Thursday, 21 March 2024
CSIO5* LLN Ocala 2024

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. Simon Delestre and Dexter Fontenis Z, winners of the $62,500 Coca-Cola Beverages Florida Grand Prix qualifier at the World Equestrian Center. Photos © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Edited press release from World Equestrian Center 



Competition for the start of the Longines League of Nations™ event opened at World Equestrian Center – Ocala (WEC) on Wednesday, March 20, in Ocala, FL.

Ocala is the only North American stop in the prestigious new FEI series: Only four events – Abu Dhabi (UAE), Ocala (USA), St. Gallen (SUI), and Rotterdam (NED) – comprise the Longines League of Nations™ series before the final takes place in Barcelona (ESP) from October 3 to 6, 2024.

International showjumping competition got underway on Wednesday, highlighted by the $62,500 1.55m Coca-Cola Beverages Florida Grand Prix qualifier. While all 40 athletes competing in the Longines League of Nations™ are guaranteed a starting spot in Thursday evening’s $330,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSIO5* under the lights, ten more individuals were able to qualify based on their performance in the qualifier.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ. Henrik von Eckermann and Calizi placed second.

Course designer Alan Wade of Ireland set a friendly opening speed track that saw a total of 16 horse-rider combinations jump clear. None could catch the time of 65.41 seconds set by Simon Delestre of France riding Dexter Fontenis Z, an 11-year-old Zangersheide gelding (Diarado x Voltaire) he owns in partnership with Eric Hochstadter. World number one Henrik von Eckermann of Sweden came the closest, stopping the clock in 66.11 seconds aboard Calizi, an 11-year-old DSP mare (Cellestial x Stakkatol) owned by Dufour Stables AG.

“I had a very good feeling with Dexter today,” said Delestre, 42, who is competing in the Longines League of Nations™ as a member of the French team. “It is my first time in the arena. It is really beautiful and great for the horses. The ground is really nice also."

“My first impression of WEC is fantastic,” continued the number-seven-ranked rider in the world. “I think everything is done for the horse, and everything is perfect for the horse. You can feel even a really, really sensitive horse would like it. Here they feel so good, almost like they’re at home, which is great for them.”

Competition at WEC – Ocala continues on Thursday, March 21, highlighted by the $330,000 Lugano Diamonds Grand Prix CSIO5* beginning at 7 p.m.


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