That enigmatic Frenchman, Roger Yves Bost, did what he does best today when storming to victory in spectacular style at the ninth leg of the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2016/2017 Western European League in Mechelen, Belgium. Riding the 10-year-old mare Sydney Une Prince who carried him to team gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the 51-year-old rider snatched pole position from 21-year-old Belgian hero Jos Verlooy with a daredevil run that brought the spectators to their feet.
Germany’s Holger Wulschner set a tough target with BSC Skipper in the 12-horse jump-off when clear in 40.08 seconds, but that would only prove good enough for third place at the end of an afternoon that included plenty of thrills, spills and drama. Last year’s winner at the Belgian fixture was current world no. 1 Christian Ahlmann, but the German maestro was eliminated in the first round today when Aragon Z was in uncooperative mood.
Verlooy was first to challenge Wulschner’s time, going well into the lead when breaking the beam in 39.71 seconds when sixth to go against the clock with the 11-year-old Caracas. “I really tried, I didn’t think I could go any faster!” said the young man who finished fifth with Domino at the Longines Final in Las Vegas in 2015. It seemed the target was still vulnerable however when Verlooy’s good friend and rival, 21-year-old Irish sensation Bertram Allen, broke the beam even sooner, although he left the opening vertical on the floor for four faults in 39.43 with his very promising eight-year-old Izzy by Picobello.
Fourth-last into the ring, Italy’s Lorenzo de Luca and Armitages Boy looked set to go out in front until they missed their stride to the very last fence. And the crowd gasped in even greater disbelief when French star Kevin Staut, who leads the Western European League rankings and is more than qualified for the Longines Final in Omaha, Nebraska (USA) at the end of March, then parted company with Ayade de Septon when they got into a muddle earlier on the track. Last man in however, Bost would make no mistake, storming home in 38.86 seconds to put the result beyond doubt.
“Sydney is very fast, I didn’t take the maximum risk but at the last two jumps I tried a little more” said the man whose unorthodox riding style sets him apart from the rest and whose personal popularity is universal. The Belgian crowd applauded the Frenchman as if he was one of their own, and today’s result has settled Bost’s resolve. “I only need about 10 more points to qualify so I’m going to try some more shows now because I really want to go to America for the Final!” he said tonight.
Photo: Dirk Caremans/FEI