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A French clean sweep in the Longines Speed Challenge of Paris

Saturday, 01 December 2018
CSI5* Longines Masters of Paris 2018

Photo (c) Sportfot. Kevin Staut and Ayade de Septon et HDC. Photo (c) Sportfot.

The first signature class of the 10th Longines Masters of Paris, the Longines Speed Challenge, lived up to its reputation. The Paris audience too: Wild cheers and a sea of French flags rose from the stands as Kevin Staut won the fastest class in the world for a third time aboard Ayade de Septon et HDC (Wandor van de Mispelaere x Belle d'Avril du Mazy).

The twenty-eight starters were tested over the brand new Season IV course, by German course designer Frank Rothenberger, which they will ride again in Hong-Kong in February and New York in April. It was difficult, much to the appreciation of the riders, the crowd and the many riders in the crowd, as even those who don't take part in the class love watching from the stands. 

The Longines Speed Challenge is a true speed world championship, where jumping faults count for very few penalties: two seconds instead of the usual four. This gives a better chance to recover from a slight mistake by going faster. Last year, Julien Epaillard won with Cristallo A LM despite a fence down. A feat he very nearly managed to repeat tonight despite, yet again, a fault from Safari d'Auge (Diamant de Semilly x breeding unknown) in the second double. "The coursed seemed very long," admitted a breathless Epaillard. "It was all about not running out of steam, but the crowd gave me wings!"

As the class went on, the Norman was settling more and more comfortably in the winners plush chair. He did not seem worried at all, even when Simon Delestre and Chadino (Chacco-Blue x Narew XX) took the same tight turns - and rightly so, as a two seconds slower Delestre had to be content with the runner-up seat. 

Then, suddenly, the crowd started chanting "Kevin, Kevin" even before the Olympic champion entered the arena, never abating until the end of the course. "I could hear "Kevin" while I was waiting in the passageway before I set off. But from the moment I was in front of the first obstacle, I was completely focused on my course. The strategy we developed with Philippe Guerdat was to be cautious in the beginning. Then, I felt Ayade de Septon*HDC was really at the game. She was going better and better and proved generous all along, so then I started taking risks.," Staut commented. The risks paid off, and Staut beat the title holder by a hair - 23" precisely.  

"When you enter this arena, the atmosphere is fantastic. My concentration tuned out the noise, but I felt the whole crowd behind us," Staut said. 

Press release from R&B Presse

Photo © Sportfot

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