In Greek mythology Hermes is known as the fastest of the Gods. He’s adorned in winged sandals and helmet as he acts as messenger between Gods and mortals. But on Sunday is was Hermes Ryan, a liver chesnut Selle Francais gelding that had wings on his feet, setting a blistering pace to win the Longines FEI World Cup in Verona, Italy with Simon Delestre aboard.

The Winning Pair. Photo by Stefano Secchi

The Uliano Vezzani designed-course was straightforward but substantial. Each effort reached the maximum height of 1.60 meters, including a triple bar that spread to 1.70 meters in width. After the triple bar was 4 strides to a vertical-oxer combination, the first element falling time and again as the horses struggled to clear the upright, coming in fast and flat after their effort over the triple bar.

Of 39 riders, 15 were clear to jump-off, with Cameron Hanley and Steve Guerdat opting to retire on course as the rails came tumbling, saving their horses for another day.

The jump-off track proved the trickier of rounds. The first 5 to go started aggressively, knowing the sports best were still to jump-off after them. But a vertical-vertical combination came up quickly after a tight turn off an oxer and the first element fell frequently as the riders struggled to balance their mounts.

Max Kuhner, 6th in the line-up, was first to go clean on his striking grey stallion, Chardonnay. Their time was slow, however, Max favoring a conservative double clear on his inexperienced mount.

The remaining 9 combinations were faultless, which meant an absolute thriller for the audience as each rider pushed a little faster and cut a little tighter. Ludger Beerbaum and Chaman made a bold gallop to the last, with Beerbaum not slowing a beat to jump the Longines vertical and clock in at 37.83. Scott Brash and Hello M’Lady put in a blistering round as well and, in a very rare occurrence actually tied Beerbaum’s time of 37.83 exactly.

It seemed those two would share the win, until Simon Delestre and Hermes Ryan entered the ring. The gelding fearlessly galloped around the course, handily navigating the turns and flying to the last two fences. Their time of 36.46 would seal the win, .26 seconds fast than Henrik Von Eckermann who rode to 2nd.

Henrik Von Eckermann and Cantinero were a close 2nd.
Photo by Stefano Secchi

In his post-win interview Delestre was overjoyed. He noted Ryan’s competitive advantage in the jump-offs, “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.”

Ryan is a typical French horse and the best I’ve ever had in my life - when he’s relaxed like he was today it’s easy to be fast with him - he’s very special, he has only had three fences down in this whole season!”

Delestre has already qualified for the final in Gothenburg, and narrowly edged French rider Penelope Leprevost from the Western European league leaderboard.

1. Simon Delestre - Hermes Ryan. 0/36.46
2. Henrik Von Eckermann – Cantinero. 0/36.72
3. Scott Brash – Hello M’Lady. 0/37.83
Ludger Beerbaum – Chaman. 0/37.83
4. Maikel Van Der Vleuten – VDL Grorp Verdi TN N.O.P. 0/38.24
5. Rolf-Goran Bengtsson – Unita Ask. 0/38.89
6. Gerco Schroder - Glock’s Cognac Champblanc. 0/39.54

Article by Ashley Fairfield-Remeza
Source: Louise Parkes