Delestre soars to victory in Lyon
It was an electrifying finish for Show Jumping fans and organizers at this weekend’s CSI 5* Lyon Horse Show in eastern France. World No.17 Simone Delestre took flight on home soil with his loyal partner Hermès Ryan, winning the €300,000 Longines FEI World Cup qualifier Sunday and greatly advancing his cause towards securing a spot in near year's Paris Final.
Delestre’s victory in the 1.60 metre class at the Eurexpo complex — his first in an elite 5* Grand Prix in two years — was worth €75,000 in prize money for the French rider, but equally catapulted him into second place behind Sweden’s Henrik Von Eckermann in the Western European League standings as riders jockey for one of the 18 spots allocated to the continent for the Final.
Indeed, Von Eckermann and his trusty Mary Lou came in second in the marquee Grand Prix at the French event (pocketing €60,000), which gives them 34 points after four stages (Oslo, Helsinki, Verona and Lyon). With nine legs to go in the League, Delestre is sitting with 31 points, ahead of his compatriot Kevin Staut with 28. Staut and his mount For Joy van’t Zorgvliet HDC finished 13th in Lyon. Switzerland’s Olympic Champion Steve Guerdat, on Bianca, rounded out the podium at the Lyon show (€45,000) and is now in seventh in the Western European standings.
On designer Grégory Bodo’s first CSI 5* course, 11 horse-and-rider combinations advanced to the decisive jump-off round Sunday, alongside Great Britain’s Michael Whitaker and Ireland’s Mark McAuley: Delestre, Von Eckermann, Guerdat, Belgium’s Pieter Devos, Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci, Spain’s Sergio Alvarez Moya, France’s Julien Epaillard and Roger Yves Bost, and Germany’s Holger Wulschner. Of those, seven rode clear — including McCauley and Whitaker (who finished fifth and sixth respectively). It was thus the fastest times which settled the final results, with Delestre and Ryan hurtling home in 37.72 seconds, ahead of Von Eckermann (38.35) and Guerdat (39.05 ). Next up, the Western European circuit heads to Stuttgart in southwest Germany, at that city’s horse show from November 15-19.