(Photo © Frédéric Chéhu).
It was an extremely tricky course that the German course designer Frank Rothenberger designed for the Grand Prix Hermès today under the glass roof of the Grand Palais. With 15 obstacles at 1.60m, the 39 riders who started had their work cut out, particularly with the last triple vertical combination, which stopped several riders from reaching the jump-off. Only 8 competitors managed to qualify, and the final victory went to the Swiss rider Romain Duguet, the delighted partner rider of Hermès.
The 2015 Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais ended in style this Sunday afternoon. In front of a full crowd, the 39 riders in this grande finale gave their utmost to overcome the difficulties of the course in Paris. It was only after the round of Edwina Tops-Alexander/Lintea Tequila, who won the Grand Prix in Doha a month ago, that the clear rounds started to come, with Christian Alhmann (GER)/Epleaser van T Heike and then the reigning Olympic champion Steve Guerdat (SWI)/Corbinian. Five other riders joined them afterwards: Philippe Rozier (FRA)/Rahotep de Toscane to a standing ovation from the public; Amy Graham (AUS)/Bella Baloubet – who had already won “Le Saut Hermès” class yesterday -; the winners of the 2014 Grand Prix Hermès, Marcus Ehning (GER)/Cornado NRW; and then Romain Duguet (SWI)/Quorida de Treho, Grégory Wathelet (BEL)/Oh d’Eole and the Qatari rider Bassem Hassan Mohammed/Victoria. This year, the event was not a happy one for Maikel van der Vleuten (NL), the team world championship gold-medallist, Roger-Yves Bost (FRA), the European champion and Daniel Deusser (GER), the world number one.
8 couples in the final
With the difficult task of opening the jump-off, Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) had to decide between taking risks and speed. However, a bar on the penultimate oxer sent her into 7th place. The same thing happened to Christian Ahlman (GER) who finished 8th. However, Corbinian responded to all the demands of the reigning Olympic champion Steve Guerdat (SWI), who will take part in the World Cup finals in Las Vegas in three days days time. A double clear round saw him take charge of the class before Amy Graham (AUS) had the public of the Grand Palais on their feet. The Australian took 21 hundredths of a second off the Swiss champion’s time. The performance should have sealed the win. But that was before Romain Duguet took the Grand Palais by storm. Going tight into the bends and accelerating in the last straight, the partner rider of Hermès took a second off the time to claim the final victory in the Grand Prix Hermès. After that, Philippe Rozier (FRA), pushed on by the public, needed to go as fast as possible, but finished sixth after a penalty. Marcus Ehning (GER) and Grégory Whatelet (BEL), with a penalty each, took the 5th and 4th places respectively.
Romain Duguet (SWI), 1st:
“It is really fantastic to win here today, and even more so as a Hermès partner rider. This is my first win in a five star Grand Prix, and doing it here makes it even better. However, I didn’t feel any more pressure than at another event. My mare really jumped amazingly; when she is on form, she is truly exceptional.”
Amy Graham (AUS), 2nd:
“For me, this really is an amazing competition and I would like to thank Hermès for inviting me. I had an exceptional weekend and Bella Baloubet was in great form. It was a real pleasure competing in this wonderful setting.”
Steve Guerdat (SWI), 3rd:
“I was a bit worried about taking too many risks because Corbinian is only 9 years old. He has a lot of qualities, but without the right pattern of strides he does not have enough experience to win. I preferred to hedge my bets and I am really pleased with him”
Source: Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais – Press release