In the 11-horse jump-off the little chestnut gelding, who carried the Frenchman to individual European bronze at Aachen, Germany two years ago, simply destroyed the opposition with his amazing turn of foot to finish ahead of Mary Lou, ridden by Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (36), while Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat (35) and Bianca lined up in third.
French course designer, Grégory Bodo, received many compliments for a track that wasn’t over-tall or wide but which brought the top combinations through to the decider against the clock. And that was a thriller, Belgium’s Pieter Devos and Claire Z setting a new target in 39.28 seconds when fifth to go, and first to take a daring short-cut to the double, three fences from home. Twice series champion, Steve Guerdat, shaved almost a quarter of a second off that when next out but, with just three horses left to run, Delestre scorched through the finish in 37.72 seconds to leave the remaining two with a near-impossible task.
Fellow-countryman, Roger Yves Bost, had two fences down while trying to catch him and although von Eckermann was quick, his decision to take the longer route to the double saw him settling for second place in 38.85 seconds.
“I was lucky to go near the end of the jump-off because I knew the best route to take, but Ryan is a naturally fast horse and in Verona (last weekend) I tried to go as fast as I could but we had a fence down. Today I asked even more and he jumped amazing! It’s especially nice for me to win this leg at home!” Simon Delestre FRA (1st)
Meanwhile Von Eckermann, third-placed finisher at the 2017 Final, was delighted to find himself heading the Western European League going into the fifth round in Stuttgart, Germany in two weeks’ time. With 34 points already accumulated he is well on his way to the 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) next April, and that is his main goal right now. He is a big fan of Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping.
“This is the leading series in our sport – it’s fantastic competition and always attracts a great crowd – I just love it!” Henrik von Eckermann SWE (2nd)
1. Hermes Ryan (Simon Delestre) FRA 0/0 37.72
2. Mary Lou (Henrik von Eckermann) SWE 0/0 38.35
3. Bianca (Steve Guerdat) SUI 0/0 39.05