Uliano Vezzani’s mission for this first round was to pick the twenty-five finalists of the Gold Cup this evening from a line-up of superstars. Well, it would have been hard to do better because twenty-four riders jumped clear! The combination formed by Julien Epaillard/Quatrin de la Roque LM, the fastest of the four faulters, also qualified for the next round, to reach the count of twenty-five. The slate was wiped clean for the second round. All the riders therefore started with the same chance: the results of this round (in terms of jumping or time penalties) will only be used to determine the starting order. Audiences in Paris was over the moon to see French riders, Olympic, world and European Champions, medal winners and the top ranked riders in the world: all the elite riders were there, promising a thrilling second round to this class.
“I love the crowd in Paris and they feel the same way about me”, said Steve Guerdat just after winning the Gold Cup in front of the grandstands where the spectators were going crazy. The French audience love him, are dazzled by his amazing style and his daring, and never miss an opportunity to prove it to him. This was the case today more than ever, as although there were several French riders qualified for the second round of the Gold Cup, none of them came up trumps. Timothée Anciaume and Australia were the only combination that jumped clear-but not fast enough to attend the prize giving ceremony as they finished in seventh place. It must be said that Daniel Deusser, who was one of the first to go, jumped an almost perfect round which really put a huge amount of pressure on the riders that followed him. And of course with pressure comes breathtaking suspense, but also penalties. As a result, the top of ranking only changed at the end of the class. “When they are twenty five of you competing in a class, you have to take risks,” remarked the Swiss rider philosophically. And he took so many with Albfuehren’s Happiness, a very successful mare at this level, that he shaved almost two seconds off the German rider’s time!