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Epaillard leaps to victory in the Longines FEI World Cup of London

Sunday, 17 December 2017
CSI5*-W London 2017

Photo (c) Haide Westring Julien Epaillard and Toupie de la Roque won the Longines FEI World Cup of London. Photo (c) Haide Westring.

Julien Epaillard (FRA) made sure to provide himself with a pre-present for Christmas in the form of victory in Sunday’s Longines FEI World Cup of London, and 20 points to add in his campaign to qualify for the final on home soil in Paris next year.

The 8th leg of the Longines FEI World Cup in the Western European League took place at the traditional Christmas event at Olympia on Sunday afternoon, and it was Epaillard on the 10-year-old mare Toupie de la Roque (Kannan x Nabab de Reve) that recorded the winning time of 36,91 seconds in the jump-off, pushing the ever-so-popular Scott Brash (GBR) down to runner-up position.

The 1.60m track set by the course designer-duo Guilherme Jorge (BRA) and Bob Ellis (GBR) counted 13 obstacles and 16 efforts in the first round. With faults spreading out all over the track, and only four combinations clearing their way into the jump-off, the riders praised the course afterwards. "When I walked the course, I thought it was tough," third placed Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) told the press after the class.

The first pair to go clear in the first round was reigning European Champion Peder Fredricson (SWE) on the 10-year-old gelding H&M Christian K (Namelus R x Calvados). Joined by Tops-Alexander, Brash and Epaillard, Fredricson went on to produce a steady clear round over the shortened, eight fence track in the jump-off. Stopping the clocks at 41,34 seconds, it was obvious there was still some seconds to shave off for the riders that followed him.

Starting second in the jump-off, Tops-Alexander and the impressive 9-year-old gelding Inca Boy van T'Vianahof (Diamant de Semilly x Cash) kept the fences intact and took over the lead with a time of 41,05 seconds. "My horse does not have a lot of experience, but he has been wonderful lately," Edwina told the press afterwards. "I am lucky to have the ride on him." Having recently returned from maternity leave, Edwina said she now worries less. "I think I am more relaxed now – I only worry about Chloe. I hope I can show other women out there that having babies does not have to hinder you." 

Scott Brash on his loyal 16-year-old mare Ursula XII (Ahorn x Papageno) shaved seconds off Tops-Alexander's time in the jump-off, but in the end he had to settle for the runner-up position with his time of 37,34 seconds. "I know Julien very well," Scott commented afterwards. "He wins classes week in and week out – I was kind of hoping for him to have fence down," Scott joked. "But fair play to him, he rode brilliant and really deserved the win today." On the question if the 16-year-old Ursula is to be retired soon, Scott commented: "I think horses have a way of telling us how they feel and what they want. Ursula feels great. Of course, I one day hope to give her the retirement days she deserves and maybe breed with her." 

The last time a French rider won in London was in 1985, and Epaillard was very happy after crossing the finish line in 36,91 seconds and securing the victory today. "The course today was really tough and technical," he told the press. "It is a special win today. I love this show and English people, and I am very, very happy to win today."

The Longines FEI World Cup Finals in Paris now seem like a realistic goal for the French rider. "Of course I hope to qualify to the Final in Paris," he said. "I had a talk with our Chef d'Equipe before the class today, and now that I won I hope to also get a spot for the World Cup Mechelen." 


Text © World of Showjumping // Photo © Haide Westring

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