Frenchman, Julien Epaillard, took even himself by surprise when galloping to victory with Quatrin de la Roque at the penultimate leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League on home ground in Bordeaux, France saturday (4) night. “I didn’t come here with big expectations” said the delighted 39-year-old from Normandy, after out-pacing and out-jumping the stellar field of 39 starters in another marathon jump-off against the clock.
Runner-up spot went to 40-year-old Dutchman Leopold van Asten with VDL Groep Zidane while reigning European Young Rider champion, 21-year-old Guido Klatte from Germany, clinched third with Qinghai and Ireland’s Denis Lynch lined up fourth with All Star.
It seems even the top course designers are astonished by the ability of the horses and riders on the indoor circuit this winter, as 19 managed to complete Uliano Vezzani’s first-round track without incident. “What can I say? It’s a big arena and the horses jumped great – that’s the sport!” said the world-famous Italian course designer.
It was Rio Olympian, van Asten, who set the jump-off target when second to go and clear in 37.71 seconds, and although Frenchman Aldrick Cheronnet (Tanael des Bonnes) and Germany’s Markus Brinkmann (Pikeur Dylon) were also fault-free it wasn’t until Klatte took his turn that the Dutchman’s time looked vulnerable. Klatte steered a shorter route when cutting inside the first fence after tackling the double at the halfway point, stopping the clock in 38.09 seconds, but two horses later Epaillard and his 13-year-old gelding did the same to break the beam in what would turn out to be the winning time of 35.92 seconds.
The superstars who followed him into the ring often faulted at the vertical that followed that inside turn, or sometimes even earlier, on the rollback to the vertical third fence on the new course. Lynch was never likely to beat the target time with his massive 14-year-old gelding, but 38.41 seconds would be plenty good enough for fourth spot when the remaining six contenders all left poles on the floor.
“Things have not been going great for me, and after La Coruna (early December) I felt my horse was tired so I gave him a little break” said Epaillard as today’s result began to sink in. “Then we started again in Oliva (ESP) and came here, but I was only really preparing for the Grand Prix tomorrow, I wasn’t expecting this to happen!” he added.
Gothenburg in Sweden will host the last leg of the Western European League in three weeks time.
Full result here
Facts and Figures:
Bordeaux in France played host to the 12th leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League tonight.
A total of 39 riders from 16 countries competed.
13 starters from the host nation of France.
Course designer was Italy’s Uliano Vezzani.
Time-allowed in the first round was 77 seconds.
13 fences with 16 jumping efforts.
19 horse-and-rider combinations qualified for the jump-off including five from Germany and four from France.
6 horse-and-rider combinations jumped double-clear rounds.
The winner was 39-year-old Frenchman Julien Epaillard with the 13-year-old gelding Quatrin de la Roque.
Youngest horse in tonight’s competition was the nine-year-old Stroudwood Eldardo ridden by Portugal’s Mario Wilson Fernandes.
Oldest horse in the competition was the 17-year-old super-stallion Taloubet Z ridden by Germany’s Christian Ahlmann.
The last of the 13 qualifiers in the Western European League will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden on Sunday 26 March.
The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Final will take place at the Century Link Centre in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) from 27 March to 2 April.
Over €1million in prizemoney is on offer at the 2017 Longines Final.
Julien Epaillard FRA (1ST): “MY horse has a very big stride and we had a good turn to the vertical after fence two and had a nice distance to the last jump. With this horse I have only won at 3-Star level – the Grand Prix at Lummen and at Paderborn.”
Leopold van Asten NED (2nd): (When asked why he was two seconds slower than the winner) – “I was second to go in the jump-off and had to make a choice, I wanted to be quick but not to take too many risks because wanted to be clear. Even if I started last I wouldn’t have beaten Julien’s time anyway! I’d like to
Guido Klatte GER (3rd): “I’m really happy, I can’t believe it! This is the best atmosphere I’ve seen at an indoor show, even better than in Germany!”
Mr Eric Dulong, President of the Organising Committee, Jumping International de Bordeaux: “It’s great to have such a fantastic audience and such a great atmosphere. I want to thank everyone at event – Bordeaux is becoming one of the shows you just have to be at in Europe!”
Standings: Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League
After Round 12 in Bordeaux FRA:
- Kevin Staut FRA – 78
- Lorenzo de Luca ITA – 67
- Denis Lynch IRL – 58
- Ludger Beerbaum GER – 56
- Steve Guerdat SUI – 47
- Guido Klatte GER – 47
- Gregory Wathelet BEL – 45
- Romain Duguet SUI – 43
- Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo COL- 43
- Marcus Ehning GER – 41
- Max Kuhner AUT – 41
- Nicola Philippaerts BEL – 39
- Henrik von Eckermann SWE – 39
- Martin Fuchs SUI – 38
- Scott Brash GBR – 35
- Pieter Devos BEL – 34
- Roger Yves Bost FRA – 34
- Simon Delestre FRA – 34
- Lauren Hough USA – 33
- Holger Wulschner GER – 31
- Markus Brinkmann GER – 31
- Daniel Deusser GER – 30
- Eduardo Alvarez Aznar ESP – 29
- Leopold van Asten NED – 29
- Penelope Leprevost FRA – 27
Full standings here