“La Marseillaise” rang out across the arena at Jumping Verona today when Frenchman Simon Delestre flew home with Qopilot to win the Franco Tucci Speed class.
Once again it was an early starter that stole the spoils, the 38-year-old rider sealing it with a galloping run that stopped the timers in 59.63 seconds when fourth to go of the big field of 52.
It was a particular delight to post this win with a horse he has had since he was four. “He’s still only nine years old but he is coming up to the higher levels and he is ready for it now!” Delestre said.
“We know each other very well and that is always good, he has been in great form this year and he was very impressive on the Morocco Tour at Al Jadida last month where he finished sixth in the Grand Prix. He’s a very nice horse and he is naturally fast - in our sport today, horses must be able to jump at speed because that’s how it is in competitions!”
Italy’s Guido Franchi broke the beam with Egbert in 60.92 seconds to claim runner-up spot while Germany’s Daniel Deusser finished third with Kiana van het Herdershof in 61.15. But Delestre had to hold his breath when the last man into the ring, Great Britain’s Robert Whitaker, very nearly turned the competition on its head with a spectacular challenge with Dekato that saw them posting the quickest time of all, clocking 59.04 seconds. However the final oxer hit the floor to leave them out of contention, so Delestre was off the hook and back on the winner’s podium.
The French rider is now looking forward to tomorrow’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ qualifier in which he will compete Hermes Ryan, the brilliant chestnut gelding with which he claimed European individual bronze in Aachen, Germany in 2015. Looking forward to that he said today, “he’s 15 years old now but he’s still in great shape!”. And he spoke about his affection and connection with Jumping Verona.
“I always enjoy this show, it’s one of the best and I feel at home because I first rode in a pony competition here in 1994 - and I’ve been coming back ever since!”
Ph. Jumping Verona / S.Grasso