Jérôme Guery of Belgium and his 15-year-old stallion Papillon Z raised the temperatures on the final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly, with a hotly contested fight to the finish of the €62,000 Master Del Monte & Region Hauts de France CSI5*.
The last CSI5* class of the weekend kicked off under deep blue skies with plenty of sunshine to see the 2017 LGCT of Chantilly out. Fending off Lorenzo de Luca of Italy and the USA’s Laura Kraut who finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, a delighted Guery said: “My horse was super today. He has been my partner for a long time, so it’s special to win like this. I gave 100% and more, and my horse did the same for me.”
The first to enter the galloping grass arena was first to ride clear as Brazil’s Yuri Mansur Guerios with Unita Ask set the pathfinder for the 37 strong field to come. But Uliano Vezzani’s course was another masterclass in design, with gappy fences, galloping distances and light poles all combining to test the riders in the final competition.
The Del Monte treble combination showed no mercy, with many falling foul of the first element, including Jane Richard Philips of Switzerland and Victorio Des Grez, who subsequently retired. The penultimate fence – an 1.50m square oxer with a water tray underneath and two pot hedges – kept falling, with many horses having the front rail down.
The French public were set on a rollercoaster of emotions after Olympic team gold medallist Philippe Rozier and Quartz Rouge had a disappointing 21 faults, ruling them out of the running. But there was plenty for local fans to cheer about, as Marc Dilasser with Cliffton made it through to the jump-off, keeping the hopes of a French win this weekend alive.
Young Belgian talent Jos Verlooy put in a strong performance with Igor—a son of Emerald N.O.P.—to jump clear. At the other end of the show jumping spectrum, experienced legend John Whitaker of Great Britain put in a phenomenal performance with his nine year old Crumley, earning themselves a place in the jump-off.
Joining them would be Guery with Papillon Z, Kraut with Whitney, de Luca with Limestone Grey and Lauren Hough with Adare.
Eight in total returned to the ring, with Mansur Guerios again the first to go. The Brazilian rider set off at a pace and taking a stride out between one and two. But in taking a pull into the oxer, Unita backed off the bridle, pulling up abruptly and missing the stride to crash through the fence. Marc Dilasser of Frace put in a brave shot with Cliffton, the crowd shouting ‘allez’ as the pair galloped to the last. An elated crowd roared their approval as the duo stopped the clock in 36.99 seconds, laying down the time to beat.
The galloping track suited Kraut’s Whitney, with the chestnut mare soaring around the arena. Flat out to the last, Kraut urged her horse on, flying at the final fence to stop the clock in 36.81 seconds, raising the bar for the rest of the field to come.
The formidable de Luca lifted the temperature further still, after an electric performance with Limestone Grey saw the time drop to 35.41 seconds – over a second quicker, and throwing the pressure onto the remaining riders.
Papillon Z showcased his effortless speed, with Guery making a phenomenal turn back after the Longines plank. Committed to the last, the formidable duo leapt from meters away from the final fence as the crowd gasped, flying across the finish with a kick and a buck to set the winning time at 34.81 seconds.
The Tour now heads to the new destination of Berlin, Germany, in two weeks time for the 11th leg of the Championship. For more information, please click here.
See the complete results at this link.