French riders did the home crowd proud today in Bordeaux. As the Western European League’s Final World Cup qualifier, Bordeaux served as a make-or-break moment for many on the cusp of qualifying for Gothenburg next month.

The Uliano Vezzani-designed course didn’t present many first round bogeys – or perhaps the riders had upped their game in the race for points. The sixth obstacle, however, did trip up a few combinations. The vertical-vertical-oxer triple combination rode snug and came up quick off the turn, serving up 4 faults for more than a few.

What the first round lacked in bogeys, the jump-off had in spades. Most notably was a tight roll back to the 4th effort. The upright vertical required a huge effort coming off the momentum-sucking turn, making the 5 strides to an oxer-vertical combination a heady task. Of the 17 combinations who moved into the jump-off, more than a third had one or more rail in the line.

Marcus Ehning aboard his lovely Cornado NRV were fourth in the line-up but first to put in a clear, clocking in at 41.97. They would eventually be dethroned and land in 4th place. When Edwina Tops-Alexander and Caretina went roaring around the course, the tidy mares quick strides easily handling the roll back and ensuing line, it looked as though their time of 40.90 would be enough to take it all.

But French riders rose to the challenge, urged on by an enthusiastic home crowd. Kevin Staut and Reveur de Hurtebise HDC never broke their forward rhythm and crossed the finish in 39.86. Staut’s partner, Penelope Leprevost and Vagabond de le Pomme, did her best to cause an upset. They succeeded in being faster, with a time of 39.30, but had an unfortunate rail at the 6 obstacle, a substantial oxer.

Staut’s heart was surely in his throat when fellow countrymen Simon Delestre, last in the order and currently world #2, entered aboard his striking stallion Qlassic Bois Margot. The pair showed their intentions early, leaving a stride out from fence 1 to 2, but were forced to steady after the effort, losing precious time. They’d finish clean but with a time of 40.74 coming in second.

Simone Delestre & Qlassic Bois Margot
Photo: FEI/Eric Knoll

“When there are so many in the jump-off you are quickly knocked out by the slightest error” Delestre pointed out at the post competition press conference.

Staut was overjoyed with his win, “Normally I’m not really fast with this horse, and the last time we won a 5-Star Grand Prix was in Monte Carlo five years ago! But he has been fantastic here in Bordeaux and everything went great for us in the jump-off” said Staut.

Reveur will be taking a 2-month break, leaving Staut to choose between For Joy and Qurack for the World Cup Final.

1. Kevin Staut - Reveur de Hurtebise HDC - FRA 0/0 39.86
2. Simon Delestre - Qlassic Bois Margot - 0/0 40.74
3. Edwina Tops-Alexander - Caretina de Joter - AUS 0/0 40.90
4. Marcus Ehning - Cornado NRW - GER 0/0 41.97
5. Denis Lynch - All Star 5 - IRL 0/0 42.03
6. Laura Renwick - Bintang ll - GBR 0/0 42.35