The twenty top-ranked pairs from Friday's Longines Grand Prix took part in the prestigious Equita Masters presented by Hermès Sellier, organised over two rounds on Saturday evening at the Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International. Switzerland's Steve Guerdat, the reigning European champion, won the class on Caracho, at the end of a breathtaking battle.

The first round, on a course designed by Frenchman Grégory Bodo, featured 12 obstacles of 1.60 metres and 15 difficulties. Ireland's Richard Howley, who has won the first two stages of the Longines FEI World Cup, completed the first clear round on Zodiak du Buisson Z, one of the two 8-year-olds horses involved in the class. Another eight riders managed to do clear rounds, including six of the seven French riders who had qualified for this evening of elite show jumping. Julien Epaillard and Donatello d'Auge, who won here in 2022, were among those who made it through to the second round.

Although the second leg was open to 20 starters, only 18 actually took part, following the withdrawals of Ben Maher (GBR), who made a mistake over the final obstacle with his Selle Français, Dallas Vegas Batilly, and French champion Edward Levy with Uno de Cerisy, who received 8 penalty points.
The pairs that qualified kept their scores from the first round and the starting order was decided by the time from the first leg. So, Julien Gonin, who was the fastest in the first round with his lively Estrella de la Batia, started last in the second leg, which consisted of nine obstacles and ten difficulties. 

Germany's Jana Wargers, riding Clash Royale, was the first to complete a double clear round, in a time of 45"11. Then, Richard Howley came out and lowered the benchmark (44''47). After that, Simon Delestre took pole position with his new horse, Olga van de Kruishoeve (42''41). And then, the talent of Steve Guerdat (SUI) and his agile Caracho shone through when they completed a clear round in 41''76.

And yet nothing was decided, since two 'Juliens' had still not ridden the second round. The first, Julien Epaillard, crossed the finish line faster than anyone else, but could not avoid Donatello d'Auge making a mistake. The rider from Normandy finally finished sixth (40''66). The last rider out, Julien Gonin, gave it all he had and took a very fine second place with a time of 42"10. "Estrella was really good. It's a great story, because I bought her as a five-year-old after seeing her in training. I took the time to gradually develop her. She has already competed in several 1.55-metre classes, but tonight was her first 1.60-metre class. We didn't have any doubts about her ability to jump, but rather about the fact that she might not be able to control her effort, because she has so much energy. And she just proved it!" said the delighted rider from the Bresse region.
World No. 5 Steve Guerdat was also delighted with his performance: "My horse had already jumped really well in the first round and I managed to do what I had planned in the second round. I'm really proud of Caracho. I don't always do well in jump-offs, but tonight, for such an event and in front of such a crowd, I just had to give it my best shot." Simon Delestre took third place on the podium.


image© PSV - Jean Morel
Press Release