Edwina Tops-Alexander & California

Edwina Tops-Alexander, Queen of the 8th Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais

The Grand Prix Hermès – the highlight of the weekend – rounded off the 8th edition of the Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais on Sunday 19 March. Forty-seven of the world’s best show-jumpers, from 19 different countries, took part in this famous class, with €400,000 of prize money at stake.

Only three couples managed to overcome the difficulties of this tricky course – designed by the German course designer Franck Rothenberger – and qualify for the second round against the clock. Having jumped the first clear round of the class, the 22-year-old Irish rider Bertram Allen was first to go in the jump-off on his mare Molly Malone V. With one mistake, he left things to his two adversaries of the afternoon, the French rider Pénélope Leprévost and the Australian rider Edwina Tops-Alexander. To win, they needed to complete a second clear round.

Riding Vagabond de La Pomme, the Olympic champion repeated the feat, much to the delight of the Parisian public. With a time of 41”44, she increased the pressure on the last rider out. Riding her mare California, Edwina Tops-Alexander finally bettered the French rider’s time by eight-hundredths of a second and was crowned Queen of the Grand-Palais with a time of 41”36 in the jump-off.

“I can’t believe it!” said a delighted Edwina Tops-Alexander. “It was a really, really difficult course. But I knew exactly what to do and how to ride it. I was also lucky enough to start last, in the first leg and in the jump-off. So I knew where the other riders had made some mistakes. My mare was in excellent form. She really did a great job, especially considering she is still a relative novice at this level of competition. We have only competed in six Grand Prize together. I really can’t believe it!”

The German riders Ludger Beerbaum (on Chiara 222) and Christian Ahlmann (on Caribis Z) – former winners of the Grand Prix Hermès in 2013 and 2011 respectively – finished in  4th and 5th place after two quick 4-point rounds.

Photo: Christophe Bricot