“When there are twenty five riders in a finale, you have to take risks.” – Steve Guerdat
In a rather unusual day with a most unusual format, Steve Guerdat was best able to capitalize on the event and take home the top prize in the Gold Cup Grand Prix at the Longines Masters in Paris. He brilliantly campaigned the lovely Albfuehren’s Happiness, a ten-year-old dutch warmblood mare who could cover ground with graceful but scrappy speed.
“I love the crowd in Paris and they seem to feel the same way about me!” said Steve after winning the Gold Cup in front of the grandstands where the spectators were warmly cheering on the foreign victor.
It was a bit of an irregular format on Saturday; the first round was held in the early afternoon, followed by a several hour break before the final. 41 horses traversed the first round, and 23 contested the finale.
Kevin Staut had been the best hope for the French crowd to get a home victory before dramatically ending his round with a seat ejection at fence 8 when he missed his distance and had a hard stop. The crowd was gutted, and ultimately Timothee Anciaume and Australia were the highest placed French combination in seventh.
Of the American contingent, only Kent Farrington and Voyeur made the cut to the second round, where they were the fastest of the four-fault finishers on a 44.26 and 11th place. Lauren Hough and Waterford just missed the cut in round one with four faults, as did Audrey Coulter and Alex. Eric Lamaze of Canada aboard Rosana du Park of Canada also just missed the cut by one place.
Daniel Deusser of Germany and Sweet de Beaufour made a grandiose and painfully close attempt to clinching the second leg of the Masters Slam, but had to settle for second place today. Steve had him by almost two full seconds at the end of the day.
In third was Jerome Guery on Alicante, his bold 11-year-old gray Holsteiner stallion who made a good run at the money, but was satisfied with bronze and a $10,000 check. He just pipped out Bertram Allen, who took fourth aboard Izzy by Picobello. Rounding out the top five was Olivier Philippaerts and H&M Challenge.
You could hardly ask for a better crowd, better riders, or a better venue than Paris. The final stop of the Longines Masters will be in Hong Kong, February 10-12.