French riders put in great performances on the second day of the show jumping at Saut Hermès. Riding Océane de Nantuel, Titouan Schumacher (22) won the Grand Prix of the Talents Hermès (reserved for riders under 25). A few hours later, a second French rider, Kevin Staut, also took the top spot on the podium. The world number 11 won the Prix GL Events against the clock on Ayade de Septon*HDC.
In the final class of the day, Kevin Staut finished second in Le Saut Hermès with his team-mate Lucy Davis (USA). The class was won by Romain Duguet (SUI) and Anna-Julia Kontio (FIN).
The Talents Hermès class at 1.45m opened proceedings on the second day of competition at the Grand Palais. Thanks to the subtleties of the course designed by Frank Rothenberger, just eight riders made it through to the jump-off; this figure is often considered the ideal number. Moreover, seven different nationalities were involved. They included French rider Titouan Schumacher (22) on his 14-year-old mare Océane de Nantuel as well as Australian James Arkins on Rosthwaite Vigilante II who recently competed at the New Zealand Horse of the Year Show. James had one rail but was pleased with his efforts and his New Zealand-bred horse (by Voltaire II).
Titouan was the first rider to complete a clear round in the jump-off, with a time of 33.9; an excellent one, thanks to an energetic performance with tight turns. Another six riders followed him into the arena but no-one managed to beat him. He was therefore the only rider to ride a double clear; what’s more, he posted the best time of all the eight riders in the jump-off!
Titouan, who is based in Normandy, has been working for several years with the former rider and coach of the French team, Gilles Bertran de Balanda. “Last year, I took part in the European Championship for Young Riders with Paradis Latin, who injured himself. So, I decided to compete with Océane here and this win proves it was a wise choice. The Saut Hermès is a unique event, which is just perfect from a rider’s point of view. So, winning here tastes really sweet!”
German rider Michael Viehweg was second on Avalon 308 (4 points and 35.15), and the English rider Millie Allen was third on Balou Star (4 points and 37.44).
The fifth class was a table A class against the clock with jump-off. In order to have a hope of winning, riders needed to complete a clear round over 1.50-metre jumps in the best possible time.
The French rider Kevin Staut quickly took the lead. He went out fourth on his 10-year-old mare Ayade de Septon*HDC, a little horse measuring just 1.59m. When they rode a clear round in a very quick time of 55.74, a win already looked on the cards.
Another 20 riders followed Kevin before the American Jack Towell on New York completed a clear round, but three seconds slower. They took second place ahead of the Swiss rider Pius Schwizer, who was third on Léonard de la Ferme in 58.23.
Afterwards, Kevin spoke about his win: “When I came off the course, I knew it would be difficult for my rivals to do a faster round. I managed to keep to the number of strides I wanted, and always maintain forward momentum. I’m really pleased with Ayade, because she is really constant at this level. Last week, she won a major class at S’Hertogebosh. This is only my second win at the Saut Hermès, a competition which just seems to get better and better each year in terms of the atmosphere. There is a really good public; they are enthusiastic and lively; the support was already amazing yesterday.”
Le Saut Hermès is a very unusual class involving mixed-pair teams, made up of a male and a female rider. Pairs are decided by draw and the teams compete in a class over two rounds. The ranking is established by adding the scores over the two rounds, with the time of the second round used to separate teams if they finish with the same overall score.
Two pairs managed to ride clear rounds in the first round: British rider Jessica Mendosa and Frenchman Roger-Yves Bost, as well as the Finnish rider Anna-Julia Kontio and Romain Duguet of Switzerland.
In the second round, Roger-Yves Bost and Record d’Oréal unfortunately knocked a bar off, meaning that he and his team-mate Jessica Mendosa finished fourth.
However, Anna-Julia Kontio (24), riding the French horse Pacific des Essarts, and Romain Duguet, riding Twentytwo des Biches, managed to hold firm to the end. Nonetheless, there was enormous pressure on the Swiss rider’s shoulders as he was the last one out and needed to complete a clear round for his duo to win the class.
Lucy Davis (USA) and Kevin Staut (FRA) finished second with one fault and a time of 76.22, with the British rider Laura Renwick and German Daniel Deusser in third place, also with 4 points and a time of 76.92.