Hubside Jumping Grimaud: brillant Steve Guerdat

Steve Guerdat Victorio des Frotards ©Sportfot

Steve Guerdat 1st, Peder Fredricson 2nd, Simon Delestre 3rd, it would be difficult to dream of a better podium to bring this second week of the Hubside Fall Tour to a conclusion ! Riding Victorio des Frotards, the untouchable Swiss rider gave his opponents no chance taking the 1.60 m Hubside Jumping Grimaud – Golfe de Saint Tropez Grand Prix 5* after a jump-off worthy of the biggest rendezvous! At the end of the morning, the multiple champion was already victorious in the major class of the CSI 2* with his very good Ulysse des Forêts.
A Swiss double at Grimaud !
Steve Guerdat gave himself an undeniable victory in the 1.60m CSI 5* Grand Prix ! Olympic Champion, European Team Champion, former World number one and recent winner of the Calgary Grand Prix, the Swiss rider on Victorio des Frotards, a 12 year old gelding, has once again shown the extent of his talent at the Hubside Jumping Grimaud – Golfe de St Tropez.
13 obstacles and 16 jumping efforts awaited the 42 riders on the start list on Sunday afternoon, which included 5 out of the World top 10. As soon as the course was open, Germany’s Daniel Deusser (#1) gave his feelings: “The course includes several difficulties, what the course designer proposes is quite tricky, in particular the final combination (a double vertical-oxer) which is going to cause a lot of faults. The time allowed will also play against us, we need to be fast but not lose precision.” That was an understatement!
From the very first to go, this last line – the double at n°12 followed by a final vertical six strides later- proved to be the real test, depriving France’s Alexa Ferrer, Philippe Rozier, Kevin Staut, Jeanne Sadran, Grégory Cottard but also the Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli, and Italy’s Piergiorgio Bucci of a place in the jump-off.
Bruno Garez n°11 to enter the arena was the first to find the answers to jumping the course. Accompanied by United Sunheup, he left the ring without a single pole down but with one time fault. It wasn’t until the 18th to go and the virtuosity of the World n°1, Germany’s Daniel Deusser, that the first clear round was seen in this Grand Prix. Riding Casallvano, having found the key he opened the door to clear rounds and was quickly joined by the Colombia’s Carlos Lopez, Italy’s Emanuele Camilli, France’s Simon Delestre, the Swedish Olympic champion Peder Fredricson, Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat as well as the Americans Laura Kraut and Spencer Smith and finally Ireland’s Billy Towmey.
First to go in the jump-off, Daniel Deusser immediately put the pressure on his fellow competitors with a perfect and very fast round in 44.48s. It wasn’t enough to impress the 5* riders who followed, starting with the American Laura Kraut who went faster by more than a second. Always a great performer at the top level, 16-year-old Chesall Zimequest, ridden by Simon Delestre, repeated the feat allowing his rider to take the lead in 42.94s. But this was without taking into account the two big names who were to follow. Firstly Peder Fredricson, team gold medallist in Tokyo, this time riding H&M Christian K, finished his round in 40.42s, then Steve Guerdat, who, by crossing the line and stopping the clock at 40.28, stole victory by 14 hundredths of a second from under the nose of his Swedish opponent. “I’m delighted, he always jumps well here in Grimaud but often has a faults so I was looking forward to my luck changing and that was the case today,“ said the winner after the prize giving. “I’ve already won here with Victorio and to do it again is always pleasurable. In the jump-off he can be very fast but when I saw Peder’s time I hesitated about trying everything because he leaves next week for Barcelona and I didn’t really want to take too many risks. In the end, once I was in the arena I didn’t ask too many questions, I kept going and told myself that if it went well so much the better, if it didn’t it didn’t matter, I’d nothing to lose. The course caused a lot of faults as we saw in the first part of the class. One of the difficulties here at Grimaud is that the obstacles are relatively light so the horses easily leave a hind leg behind. However, they don’t jump badly, but faults happen more quickly here than elsewhere. The layouts are always very interesting, we can ride 8 year olds to help them progress, as well as more experienced horses without taking too much out of them to win, this is a credit to the course designer. This performance with Victorio gives me confidence for next week when we head to Spain for the World Cup Final.”
It can’t be said that he hadn’t warned his fellow competitors of his great form. A few hours earlier, the multi-medalist had won the 1.45m 2* Grand Prix. Piloting the experienced Ulysse des Forets, he was one of the 12 couples to qualify for the jump-off by completing a perfect round. Then 39.32s was the time it took Steve Guerdat to finish his jump-off and take the lead. “Ulysse just did a small class on Friday so she’s in great shape,“ explained the former World number one. “She jumped well in the first round and having quite a lot of blood the jump-off wasn’t a problem for her. She’s a very experienced mare, she’s already won at the highest level.”  The rest of the podium was 100% French with Guillaume Roland Billecart and Ustica des Luthiers (39.95s) then, none other than Fanny Skalli, who was victorious last week in the same class with her fantastic Jonka-A (40.25s).
Second victory this week for Julien Epaillard. Riding Cheyenne d’Auge, a 9 year-old mare by Diamant de Semilly, the Frenchman took the 1.40m CSI 2*two-phase class in (36.82s). “She’s a mare who’s still learning, she’s home-bred and only 9 years old”, explained the Normandy-based rider. “She’s quite difficult to manage but that’s also her best quality because she’s extremely fast and in this type of class it’s important. She’s really evolving, I really think that in the future she’ll be jumping 1.45/50m and be competitive at this level. If it proves not to be the case she’ll be retired to stud because her linage is one I greatly appreciate, all I can say is that she’ll never be for sale.”  After having won shortly before the CSI 1* – 1.35m Grand Prix, the young Noa Verel was this time placed 2nd with 3q Qalisya (38.50s). The Israeli Robin Muhr, who held the lead for the majority of the class was 3rd with Baccarat Meniljean (39.24s).
It’s what you call a successful weekend for France’s Noa Verel ! The partnership she forms with Balduin 35, had a triple win, following their victories on Thursday and Friday in the CSI 1* – 1.25m speed classes, it was the 1.35m CSI 1*Grand Prix, that they won today. At the end of a seven strong jump-off they were the fastest to have crossed the finish line, in 36.38s.  “I didn’t jump like I wanted to in the first round but all the same managed a clear. For the jump-off on the other hand I asked more of him and made him understand that is was more serious than the other days,” joked the rider. “He did jump a lot better in the second round ! He’s a horse I can go fast with and stand off the jumps with because he’s generous and has lot’s of ability. As soon as he feels me in battle mode he gives everything” Belgium’s Eva Jennen with Emalie Terma G Z was 2nd  (42.90s), whilst her compatriot Stéphanie d’Andrimont was placed 3rd with Dubai de Riverland ((43.85s).
After two intense weeks, the doors of the Hubside Jumping Grimaud – Golfe de St Tropez have closed. But not for long, because on the 7th of October, the best show-jumpers in the World will meet again for the second part of the Hubside Fall Tour in the heart of the French Riviera. The President and Founder of Hubside Jumping, Sadri Fegaier, and his team, have scheduled a CSI 4* from the 7th to the 10th of October and, again, a CSI 5* from the 14th to the 17th of October.
Results here
Hubside Jumping Grimaud Golfe de St Tropez | Photo Sportfot

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