The brilliant little Hermes Ryan showed horses half his age how it should be done when galloping to victory for Simon Delestre this afternoon in the third leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2021/2022 Western European League series at Verona in Italy. The 16-year-old gelding has provided the 40-year-old Frenchman with some of the greatest moments in his career. And today’s success ranks up there with the best of them.
“It is amazing that he can win again here at his age! I have been so lucky to have him with me for all these years, and I will not have another horse like him again!”, said an emotional Delestre this evening.
From a starting field of 39 there were 13 qualified for the second-round jump-off, and when The Netherlands’ Willem Greve withdrew Grandorado TN then twelve battled it out against the clock in the race for those precious points towards qualification for the series Final in Leipzig, Germany next April. Few could have expected the drama that would ensue however.
British veteran, John Whitaker, was first out in the second round with Unick du Francport who clipped the vertical second fence in an otherwise foot-perfect run to set the target at four faults in 40.47 seconds. But Germany’s Kendra Claricia Brinkop and her 11-year-old mare Kastelle Memo shaved almost three seconds off that with a fearless clear run that stopped the clock in 37.80 when next to go. And that would prove tough to beat.
Sweden’s Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit then cruised home in 40.73 but, fourth into the ring, Britain’s Emily Moffitt was eliminated when an awkward approach to the second fence saw her 12-year-old gelding, Winning Good, grind to a halt and unseat his rider. Then Finland’s Noora Forsten set off with Con Cava who ducked out at a fence later on the track, and they came home with six faults on the board before Carlos Lopez and Admara took their turn.
The 56-year-old Colombian and the ultra-experienced 16-year-old gelding who carried him to individual fifth place at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in 2018 looked set to take a stride out to that vertical second fence but, missing their distance, they came tumbling down on the landing side. While Admara quickly picked himself up and cantered away, Lopez received medical attention before being taken to Verona’s Borgo Trento Hospital with a suspected shoulder injury.
When the action resumed, Germany’s Christian Kukuk brought his grey gelding, Checker, through the finish with a clear round in 39.08 to slot temporarily into runner-up spot behind Brinkop. And that didn’t change when America’s Jessica Springsteen and the horse that carried her to Olympic team silver in Tokyo this summer. the fabulous Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, put in what would be the quickest time when racing through the finish in 36.83 seconds only to leave the very last fence on the floor.
Then both Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca with F One USA and Belgium’s Niels Brynseels and the fiery mare Frenchy VDS left one on the ground before Delestre set off with his little flying machine.
Hermes Ryan doesn’t know he’s a lot smaller than the rest, and as Delestre said this evening “he’s such a fighter!” Setting off with his characteristic determination and enthusiasm the little French-bred dynamo just flew around the nine-fence track and raced through the finish in 37.32 seconds to go way out in front. Ireland’s Denis Lynch and GC Chopin’s Bushi followed with a solid last-to-go round in 38.62, good enough for third place behind Brinkop in second and Delestre at the top of the order. The Frenchman was very happy with his great result.
On the podium
“Ryan has won or was on the podium of most of the big Grand Prix competitions around the world and it feels so good to win here again six years after the last time, and to have him in such good shape!”, said the rider who also won the Italian leg of the series with Ryan back in 2015. Uliano Vezzani’s course suited a shorter-striding horse as he pointed out. “The jump-off was good for him, all the distances were perfect - where all the other horses had to slow down I could just go, and this was a big advantage today!”, he explained.
The talented and ambitious Brinkop had mixed feelings about finishing second. “This is my first time in Verona and also my first year doing the World Cup shows and I am very happy today, but also a little disappointed that I didn’t win!”, said the 26-year-old who looks to have a spectacular career ahead of her.
She will have plenty more opportunities to show how good she can be during the remainder of the 11-leg Western European League which continues with round four in Madrid, Spain in three weeks’ time.
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