Le Saut Hermès

 

A touch

 

of colour…

 

And horses worth their weight in gold characterized the latest edition of the Saut Hermès where Marcus Ehning and Cornado jumped their way to the top of the Grand Prix. 

 

All photos by Jessica Rodrigues 

 

It is a question of hundredths that has decided Marcus Ehning’s results in the past few shows. That was also the case for the Grand Prix Hermès, where a mere three hundredths of a second was enough to give the German his second victory in the class in five years.

“I was able to watch the first half of Patrice’s round and I saw I had a slight opportunity to gain time between obstacles 2 and 3; the double went perfectly and I was again able to take one less stride before the second to last obstacle, the Hermes vertical. I could see it was really tight but I knew it would be enough,” he said.

“I love this competition and I feel great being in France, where I always seem to achieve good results. I feel happy here, there are so many wonderful competitions,” he continued.

“It’s true I’m in a rich vein of form at the moment. Still, you have to acknowledge there is also an element of luck in these jump-offs. Here, I won by 3 hundredths of second, but two weeks ago I lost by 2 hundredths in Göteborg. That’s what sport is about, but I must admit that things are going well for me at the moment,” said Ehning who was hoping to emulate his victory at the World Cup Finals in April in Lyon.

 

“I love this competition and I feel great being in France, where I always seem to achieve good results.”

 

The world’s number one at 27, Scotland’s Scott Brash won next to nothing at the Hermès meeting though he coached Louise Saywell and Jessie Drea to team glory in the Talents Hermès – the young Saywell (23 years old) came first aboard Hello Winner by the same owners as Brash’s legendary Olympic gold medallist, Hello Sanctos.

The French also had their share of victory when the reigning, European champion, Roger-Yves Bost won the Prix de la Ville de Paris with Castle Forbes Vivaldo vh Costersveld, a horse that now has 25 international wins to his credit, including 4 this year.

“Vivaldo was just magnificent. Yesterday he was the best individual horse in the team class, the Saut Hermès; on Friday, he came 2nd in the Prix Hermès Sellier and last month in Bordeaux, he won two classes. He’s a 16-year old horse with a fantastic mentality; I’m lucky! I can also enter him in major 1.5m classes with jump-off and he is capable of winning.”

 

Friday’s Prix du Grand Palais it was snatched away by Columbian Carlos Lopez.

“I left Europe when I was at the top level and went back to Columbia for 12 years. I came back recently to work for the Les Grillons stud farm near Romans sur Isère in the Drôme, so I can compete in 4 and 5* competitions again. It is fantastic to start with a win here in the Prix du Grand Palais.”

His winning formula was Zorina VDL, a 10-year old Dutch mare.

“We have a lot of faith in her, but we want to take things slowly,” he said.

 

For the Saut Hermès – which brings together a male and female rider for two stages – French championne, Pénélope Léprévost won alongside Germany’s Marco Kutscher in front of Lépévost’s boyfriend, Kevin Staut and Ireland’s Jessica Kuerten.

“The hand of destiny  drew me with Pénélope,” declared Kutscher who did not consult Pénelope or draw up a strategy before the ride.

“We just both looked after our own side of things and it worked,” he said.

“Marco told me his horse was young and could not go too fast, so it was not worth trying to push it too much. In the end, he was faster than me,” Pénélope explained with a laugh.

 

For Julien Epaillard it was all about a question of seconds. He won the Prix Hermès Sellier aboard Cristallo one second and a half before Bosty. The gap was so amazing that the next riders seemed to have almost given up trying to do better.

 

With the experienced French champion, Michel Robert and course designer Frank Rothenberger the event has become a prestigious rendez-vous just weeks before the finals of the world cup.  The design of the Grand Palais itself – and the performance of the horses -seem to have taken inspiration from the bursting spring colours and the golden Pegasus sculptures from the Alexandre bridge that connects the Left and the Right Banks.

For the very first time, the event was broadcasted live at the city hall square.

For Hermès, the event has become an impressive showcase for their house apart from bringing the sport to the city.

“Success hangs on so little. On a breath of air, and that is what makes it so beautiful,” said Alex Dumas of the Hermès family who is also the CEO of the house.

 

*****

Compiled and edited from dispatches, all photos © Jessica Rodrigue R&B Presse

Discussing the course