Verona, Italy, FEI World Cup: The winner is a French combination

Verona, Italy: the French combination of Simon Delestre and Hermes Ryan won the fourth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2015 Western European League.

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The fourth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2015/2016 Western European League at Verona, Italy, took place on Sunday 8th November within the context of the world-famous equestrian extravaganza, the Fieracavalli, which celebrates its 117th edition this year.
​The 15-horse jump-off against the clock was full of thrills and surprises, with the unusual occurrence of superstars Ludger Beerbaum with Chaman from Germany and Scott Brash with Hello M’Lady from Great Britain tied for the lead at the halfway stage after breaking the beam in precisely the same time! But at the end of the memorable competition they eventually had to settle for joint-third place when overtaken by Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Cantinero in runner-up spot and Delestre with his brave and agile chestnut who came out on top in sensational style. Many promising young horses really rose to the challenge of top-class sport over a big, demanding but straight-forward course designed by Italian maestro, Uliano Vezzani. Max Kuhner’s fabulous grey stallion, Chardonnay, is only eight, yet still found the key to the track that included a testing triple combination at fence six and a difficult line from the triple-bar at eight to the following double - vertical to oxer. Coming up on a four-stride distance from the previous obstacle, elements of the latter constantly hit the floor, while the penultimate oxer also took its toll throughout the afternoon.

Chardonnay was clear once again for the Austrian rider in the jump-off, setting the target when sixth to go in a time of 47.84 seconds. Vezzani’s new track proved a bit of a puzzle for the early runners, and Kuhner opted for a careful tour with his talented young charge. So when Sweden’s Rolf-Goran Bengtsson broke the beam in 38.89 seconds with Unita ASK he went well into the lead only to be immediately overtaken by Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten and the ever-reliable VDL Groep Verdi who were half a second quicker. However it was Ludger Beerbaum steering Chaman home in 37.83 seconds to throw it down to the rest of the field. Critical points on the jump-off track were the rollback to the vertical at fence three, and another from the water-tray oxer at five to the two remaining elements of the triple combination. World No. 1, Scott Brash, produced a brilliant turn to the third fence with the nine-year-old Hello M’Lady and galloped down to the last, but the crowd gasped with amazement when the clock showed exactly the same time as it did for Beerbaum. The prospect of joint-winners seemed very much on the cards, but Delestre had other ideas about that. The Frenchman said afterwards that he was determined not to push Hermes Ryan too hard, but that “he’s a small horse with a lot of scope so that always gives you an advantage against the clock. I decided I would just try to be fast without going crazy”, and it worked like a dream as they broke the timers in 36.46 seconds to go out in front. It still wasn’t quite over however, as, second-last to go, Henrik von Eckermann, on the considerably bigger gelding Cantinero, was well in touch coming down to the final fence. “Maybe I could have done one less (stride) to the last” the Swedish rider mused after posting his time of 36.72 seconds for second place.
​The fifth leg will take place in Stuttgart, Germany on Sunday 22 November.


1] Hermes Ryan (Simon Delestre) FRA 0/0 36.46;
2] Cantinero (Henrik von Eckermann) SWE 0/0 36.72;
3] Chaman (Ludger Beerbaum) GER 0/0 37.83;
3] Hello M’Lady (Scott Brash) GBR 0/0 37.83;
5] VDL Groep Verdi TN NOP (Maikel van der Vleuten) NED 0/0 38.24;
6] Unita ASK (Rolf-Goran Bengtsson) SWE 0/0 38.89;
7] Glock’s Cognac Champblanc (Gerco Schroder) NED 0/0 39.54;
8] Chaccorina (Marco Kutscher) GER 0/0 40.88;
9] Chardonnay (Max Kuhner) AUT 0/0 47.84;
10] Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot (Eduardo Alvarez Aznar) ESP 0/4 40.81;
11] Cornet du Lys (Jose Maria Larocca) ARG 0/4 42.40;
12] Sarena (Ben Maher) GBR 0/4 43.16;
13] Allstar (Andreas Schou) DEN 0/8 38.16;
14] Fardon (Anna-Julia Kontio) FIN 0/8 39.45;
15] Aris CMS (Janika Sprunger) SUI 0/12 38.84.