Jérôme Guery Victorious in Hotly Contested CSI5* LGCT Chantilly

Jérôme Guery (BEL) and his 15 year old grey stallion Papillon Z raised the temperatures on the final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Chantilly, with a hotly contested fight to the finish of the Master Del Monte & Region Hauts de France.

The last CSI5* class of the weekend kicked off under deep blue skies with plenty of sunshine to see the 2017 LGCT of Chantilly out. Fending off Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) and Laura Kraut (USA) who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively, a delighted Guery said: “My horse was super today. He has been my partner for a long time, so it’s special to win like this. I gave 100% and more, and my horse did the same for me.”

The first to enter the galloping grass arena was first to ride clear as Brazil’s Yuri Mansur Guerios (BRA) with Unita Ask set the pathfinder for the 37 strong field to come. But Uliano Vezzani’s course was another masterclass in course design, with gappy fences, galloping distances and light poles all combining to test the riders in the final competition following a three day festival of show jumping.

The Del Monte treble combination showed no mercy, with many falling foul of the first element, including Jane Richard Philips (SUI) and Victorio Des Grez who subsequently retired. The penultimate fence - an 1.50m square oxer with a water tray underneath and two pot hedges - kept falling, with many horses having the front rail down including David Will (GER) and Gerco Schröder (NED) with Glock's Lausejunge.

The French public were set on a rollercoaster of emotions after Olympic team gold medallist Philippe Rozier (FRA) and Quartz Rouge had a disappointing 21 faults, ruling them out of the running. But there was plenty for local fans to cheer about, as Marc Dilasser (FRA) with Cliffton made it through to the jump-off, keeping the hopes of a French win this weekend alive.

Young Belgian talent Jos Verlooy (BEL) put in a strong performance with Igor - son of Emerald - to jump clear, much to the U25 rider’s delight who punched the air in happiness after their flawless clear. At the other end of the show jumping spectrum, experienced legend John Whitaker (GBR) put in a phenomenal performance with his nine year old Crumley, earning themselves a place in the jump-off.

Joining them would be Jérôme Guery (BEL) with Papillon Z, Laura Kraut (USA) with Whitney, Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) with Limestone Grey and Lauren Hough (USA) with Adare.

Eight would return to the ring, with Yuri Mansur Guerios (BRA) again the first to go. The Brazilian rider set off at a pace and taking stride out between one and two. But taking a pull into the oxer, Unita backed off the bridle, pulling up abruptly and missing the stride to crash through the fence. Marc Dilasser (FRA) put in a brave shot with Cliffton, the crowd shouting ‘allez’ as the pair galloped to the last. An elated crowd roared their approval as the duo stopped the clock in 36.99s, laying down the time to beat.

The galloping track suited Laura Kraut’s (USA) Whitney, with the chestnut mare soaring around the arena. Flat out to the last, Kraut urged her horse on, flying at the final fence to stop the clock in 36.81s, raising the bar for the rest of the field to come.

The formidable Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) lifted the temperatures further still, after an electric performance with Limestone Grey saw the time drop to 35.41s - over a second quicker, and throwing the pressure onto the remaining riders. Jos Verlooy (BEL) rode his own round with the nine year old Igor, the young horse still being produced and gaining experience in the expansive grass arena. But a couple of rolled poles pushed them out of contention, with just three left to fight for the win.

The crowd applauded popular rider John Whitaker (GBR) and Crumley entered the arena. Another young gelding gaining experience at the highest level, Whitaker guided the large horse around beautifully, looking strong until the pair clipped the plank, leaving Jérôme Guery to take centre stage.

Papillon Z showcased his effortless speed, with Guery making a phenomenal turn back after the Longines plank. Committed to the last, the formidable duo leapt from meters away from the final fence as the crowd gasped, flying across the finish with a kick and a buck to set the new fastest time at 34.81s.

Final rider Lauren Hough (USA) had everything to do with Adare, but the pressure was too much and the pair picked up four faults to drop them out of the running. So it was Jérôme Guery (BEL) and Papillon Z who flew to the final win of the weekend, with Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) in second, and Laura Kraut (USA) taking home third.

Source: Press release from LGCT // Picture Stefano Grasso/LGCT