French rider, Penelope Leprevost, pictured with Morten Thormodsen, Brand Manager Longines Norway, after winning today’s first leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League at Oslo (NOR) riding Flora de Mariposa. (FEI/Mette Sattrup)
French riders ran rampant at the opening leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League in Oslo, Norway today where Penelope Leprevost came out on top with Flora de Mariposa. In a thrilling 15-horse jump-off, the 35-year-old rider and her fabulous 10-year-old mare pinned her French counterparts, Simon Delestre and Patrice Delaveau, into second and third places, while Kevin Staut also carried the French flag into fifth spot behind Germany’s Marcus Ehning.
A super-star start-list guaranteed a great day of sport. A total of 39 horse-and-rider combinations from 21 nations were in action, and as Show Director, Morten Aasen, said this evening “when the entries were coming in, we had 16 of the top 20 riders in the Longines rankings, so it was like a dream come true! Having such a great line-up was like having a European Championship here – but it turned into a French Championship in the end!”
All the hallmarks
The 13-fence first course carried all the hallmarks of its creator, Germany’s Frank Rothenberger, with no allowance made for the fact that this was the first serious indoor test of the season for many. Big, bold oxers and a demanding triple combination of a double of oxers followed by a vertical stretched them all the way. One of the bogeys of the class however was the narrow, but wide, oxer at fence two which put paid to many chances, while the triple bar at fence eight produced some moments of high drama.
Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann almost parted company with Cantinero when the pair paddled through the poles here, and, with just five horses left to go, World No 1, Great Britain’s Scott Brash also ran into trouble when meeting this on a wrong stride with Hello Sanctos. Despite concerns about just how tough it might be during the coursewalk however, “the course turned out easier than we expected” according to Leprevost.
Ireland’s Billy Twomey led the way into the jump-off with the veteran Tinka’s Serenade who collected 12 faults, and it was Ehning who produced the first clear when fourth to run with Comme Il Faut. Once the French got going however it was all about them, Delestre scorching home with the stallion Qlassic Bois Margot in 43.38 seconds to really put it up to the rest of the field, and his fellow-countryman, Delaveau, only 0.12 seconds slower to slot into temporary second place.
Try as they would, none of the rest could touch Delestre’s target-time until Leprevost set sail. She had a clear plan, and she stuck to it. “In the jump-off, most of the other riders took an inside line (around fence 13) to the double, but I went outside because I didn’t want to break the rhythm for Flora, who is anyway always fast – I think maybe that’s what made the difference” she explained. The decision paid off handsomely, with the clock showing just 43.01 seconds, an advantage of 0.37 seconds over her French rival, as she galloped through the timers.
A good surprise
“To win today was a good surprise!” Leprevost said afterwards. “It was the first indoor of the season for Flora, she is a super mare but I didn’t know if she would be perfect indoors just yet, but she was very good”. She now plans to compete in both the third Western European League leg on home turf in Lyon, France in two weeks’ time and at the fourth leg in Verona, Italy at the beginning of November.
Delestre wasn’t unhappy about having to settle for runner-up spot today. “I gave it all to the very last fence, and I could do no more. My horse has a big stride so I decided to take the inside line in the jump-off, and even if I had it all to do again I would do the same!” he said. Talking about the battle that ensued between himself and his fellow French riders, he pointed out that while they have a good team spirit, there was no love lost in trying to collect those all-important maximum qualifying points for the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final which will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden next March.
“We are a good team and we like to help each other – it’s a great pleasure to compete together. But we have three fast horses, and when it comes to the jump-off we like to play the game!”, he said.
The Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League now moves on to Helsinki, Finland on Sunday 25 October.
1, Flora de Mariposa (Penelope Leprevost) FRA 0/0 43.01; 2, Qlassic Bois Margot (Simon Delestre) FRA 0/0 43.36; 3, Lacrimoso 3 HDC (Patrice Delaveau) FRA 0/0 43.48; 4, Comme Il Faut (Marcus Ehning) GER 0/0 44.08; 5, Reveue de Hurtebise HDC (Kevin Staut) FRA 0/0 44.50; 6, VDL Groep Arera C (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED 0/0 49.17; 7, Clooney (Martin Fuchs) SUI 0/0 54.02; 8, Don VHP Z (Harrie Smolders) NED 0/4 44.07; 9, Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (Eduardo Alvarez Aznar) ESP 0/4 45.87; 10, Embassy ll (Hans-Dieter Dreher) GER 0/4 46.23; 11, VDL Zirocco Blue NOP (Jur Vrieling) NED 0/4 48.02; 12, Nino des Buissonnets (Steve Guerdat) SUI 0/4 50.34; 13, Vienna Olympic (Shk. Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani) QAT 0/4 55.09; 14, Utamaro d’Escuassines (Joe Clee) GBR 0/8 49.87; 15, Tinka’s Serenade (Billy Twomey) IRL 0/12.
Source: by Louise Parkes/FEI