Nineteen pairs were on the start list of the Derby of Pays de la Loire region, on Saturday at noon. The course, 1 000 meters long, was composed of 22 fences, with two mounds and a lake to jump.
The Colombian René Lopez, faithful to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of France, was the first to go in the grass arena of the François André stadium with his 10 year old mare Destiny’s Child. The pair showed its talent and managed to fly over the difficulties, with, as a result, a clear round in 139.48 seconds. After that, the pression was on the shoulders of the other riders.
Actually, nobody managed to do just as well. The French Philippe Rozier, faithful as well to the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of France, and Rêveur de Kergane, came out of the arena with 24 points. The Swedish Peder Fredricson was eliminated after two refusals of H&M Carat Desire, just like the French Max Thirouin and Tarquin. The French Harold Boisset was riding his very first Derby and managed to be faster than René Lopez. He completed his course in 137.63 seconds with Vakhenaton, a 9 year old Selle Français. But with one rail down, he saw victory fade away, and places 2nd. The 2012 Olympic champion, the Swiss Steve Guerdat had a rail down too with Venard de Cerisy in a time of 138.04, and places 3rd.
At the time of the prize giving ceremony, René Lopez did not hide his emotion. By clinching victory in La Baule, his dream had come true. With this victory, he makes history by being the first Colombian to write his name on the record of the prestigious Derby of the Loire region.
Rémi Cléro, President of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup of France:
« It is an honour to have so many riders in the Derby of Pays de la Loire region. Thanks to all of them for playing the game of the Derby in this competition were the Nations Cup is important. »
John Roche, FEI Jumping Director:
« Showjumping comes from hunting, the Derby is the background of modern jumping. We have to remember that everything started in Dublin, it is normal that it is still up-to-date. In Europe, there are six or seven Derbies, among which La Baule, Hickstead and Hamburg. The public loves this class and one can feel the enthusiasm every time a pole falls on the ground, it is fantastic. »
René Lopez (COL), winner of the Derby of the Loire region:
« I am delighted about this competition. I thought I would finish among the 3-4 first riders, and along the class, I realized I might end up with a better placing. It is a class I really like, and that I always tried to ride. I tried to train my horse last week, but I could not jump a simple puddle of water. Today, everything went well, so of course I am very happy. Last year I could not take part. It is an important class for me, mythical, and I try, whenever I have the suitable horse, to be present, here in La Baule. »
Harold Boisset (FRA), second:
« It is my first time in a Derby, since I only came here twice. Knowing my horse well, I always thought he could do that type of classes, and knowing I would come, it was logical for me to enter this Derby. As a French, I am proud to take part into the CSIO, after the disappointment of not being qualified for the Grand Prix, I am very pleased to be here and take experience. »
Steve Guerdat (SWI), third:
« I already placed 3rd twice, this is the third time. I thought I had a good chance today, since it was the first Derby for Venard. At home, I use that type of fences quite regularly, the horses are ready to compete in that sort of classes. These classes are mythical, and it is always pleasant to ride them, like here in La Baule. »