The French were in fabulous form at the Leipzig World Cup Jumping round in Germany on Sunday, when Patrice Delaveau recorded his second win of the season and countryman and reigning European Champion Roger Yves Bost lined up second.
From the starting field of 40 in the Longines FEI World Cup Western European League series event, there was a 14-strong German contingent also chasing maximum qualifying points, but host-nation riders Lars Nieberg and Markus Renzel had to settle for third and fourth placings ahead of Ukraine’s Katharina Offel in fifth as the French reigned supreme. A total of 11 went into the jump-off, and Delaveau won through with a typically fiery performance when third-last to go with the 10-year-old stallion Lacrimoso HDC.
Another Frenchman, Kevin Staut, was sixth ahead of Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson in seventh, while Billy Twomey finished eighth and best of the Irish duo who made the cut into the round against the clock.
Course designer Frank Rothenberger set a stiff test of unmerciful oxers and strategically-placed verticals, but with a generous time-allowed of 72 seconds it proved well within the capability of all-comers, and it would be just the vital edge of accuracy that would make all the difference on the day.
A massive crowd of 63,700 spectators attended the Partner Pferd Leipzig annual fixture this year and the World Cup qualifier took place in front of a full house.
Lars Nieberg threw down a strong challenge when setting the pace in the jump-off with the 11-year-old mare, Leonie W, who was sharp and careful all the way to set a strong target in 42.58 seconds, and that would take some beating.
Markus Renzel’s elegant and eye-catching grey, Cassydy, crossed the line in 43.15 seconds to present no threat to the leader, but it was clear this 11-year-old was not being put under pressure as he soared effortlessly through the course to post what would still be an important result.
Next in was the last of the host country riders, Carsten-Otto Nagel with Holiday by Solitour, but their chances disappeared at the first element of the former triple combination, while Ireland’s Billy Twomey was even more unlucky when his tough, loyal but self-opinionated 17-year-old mare, Tinka’s Serenade, hit the very last.
Great Britain’s Daniel Neilson and Coco Bongo left two on the floor before Roger Yves Bost set sail with Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois, and the latter pair had the packed stadium of spectators on the edges of their seats with a characteristically flamboyant run that saw them soaring ahead with a fantastic clear in 40.78 seconds. Now that was the time to beat.
Ireland’s Denis Lynch decided to give it his best shot with Abbervail van het Dingeshof, but a very tight line to the vertical at fence three didn’t pay off when the 14-year-old horse slammed on the brakes, and when Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson and Casall Ask had a fence down it was still Bost who held the advantage. Next man in would change all that however, Delaveau once again demonstrating that extraordinary ability to get his horses to jump at speed without the slightest hesitation and just about always on the perfect stride.
Taking the crucial turn to the vertical second-last, the man who will celebrate his 49th birthday in seven days’ time flapped the reins in encouragement, and Lacrimoso HDC responded with another burst of speed that saw them through the finish line in 40.13 seconds.
Delaveau also clinched maximum points at the second leg of the series at Helsinki in Finland in October.
“Since last year I’ve won seven Longines watches!” the winning French rider said with a laugh afterwards. He has indeed been enjoying a great run of form of late, and with three Grand Prix horse in his stable looks very well-equipped as France prepares to host the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in his home region of Normandy later this summer. He started riding Lacrimoso HDC only last March and immediately won the Longines Hong Kong Masters with the German-bred horse whose name, Italian for tearful or sad, was not reflected by the big grins being worn by both horse and rider during the prize-winner’s ceremony.
Delaveau is now well-qualified for the World Cup Final which will take place in Lyon, France from 17-21 April, and his fellow-countryman, Bost who finished second, is determined to join him. “We would love to have four French riders competing at Lyon,” Bost said. But with just 28 points to his credit in the series so far, the reigning European Champion has more work to do if he is to make the cut.
The result re-confirms Delaveau as a key player in the 2014 French campaign. A prolific winner at Junior and Young Rider level, he helped win Team Bronze at the 1986 World Championships in Aachen, Germany at the tender age of just 21 and has been a highly successful member of the French senior squad ever since. He helped claim team silver for France at WEG 2010 and was a member of the winning French team at the inaugural Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup Jumping Final in Barcelona, Spain last September.
Last year he became the first rider since 1971 to win both the Derby and Grand Prix at La Baule, France and it seems 2014 may well be another year to remember. He will definitely be one to watch when the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final gets underway in 12 weeks time.
The next leg takes place in Zurich, Switzerland on Sunday, January 26.
Result: 1, Lacrimoso HDC (Patrice Delaveau) FRA 0/0 40.13; 2, Castle Forbes Myrtille Paulois (Roger Yves Bost) FRA 0/0 40.78; 3, Leonie W (Lars Nieberg) GER 0/0 42.58; 4, Cassydy (Markus Renzel) GER 0/0 43.15; 5, Lacontino (Katharina Offel) UKR 0/0 46.42; 6, Silvana HDC (Kevin Staut) FRA 0/4 41.22; 7, Quintero Ask (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 0/4 41.30; 8, Tinka’s Serenade (Billy Twomey) IRL 0/4 41.79; 9, Holiday by Solitour (Carsten-Otto Nagel) GER 0/4 44.62; 10, Abbervail van het Dingeshof (Denis Lynch) IRL 0/4 52.37; 11, Coco Bongo (Daniel Neilson) GBR 0/8 46.41.
World Cup Western European League – Standings after Round 7:
1. Scott Brash GBR – 52
3. Edwina Tops-Alexander AUS – 47
4. Patrice Delaveau FRA – 43
5. Maikel van der Vleuten NED – 40
6. Kevin Staut FRA – 38
7. Tim Gredley GBR – 36
8. Marcus Ehning GER – 36
9. Francois Mathy Jr BEL – 34
10. Lars Nieberg GER – 32
11. Luciana Diniz POR – 32
12. Roger Yves Bost FRA – 28
13. Simon Delestre FRA – 28
14. Daniel Deusser GER – 27
15. Hans-Dieter Dreher GER – 26
16. Harrie Smolders NED – 23
17. Billy Twomey IRL – 22
18. Daniel Neilsen GBR – 21
19. Jeroen Dubbeldam NED – 21