Delaveau a true Master with three on the trot
Frenchman proves too good once again as he triumphs for the third straight night to bring the curtain down on the Longines HK Masters
One horsepower - a nine-year-old stallion Lacrimoso 3 - was more than enough to give France's Patrice Delaveau total control of the inaugural Longines Hong Kong Masters as he won the showpiece event with a faultless display of horsemanship.
In an unprecedented display of dominance at an international five-star show-jumping competition, Delaveau won four of the six competitions including the two majors to sweep away the opposition, which included seven of the world's best riders and their horses.
Last night, in front of packed stands at the AsiaWorld-Expo, Delaveau finished the way he had begun two days earlier by standing on the winner's podium and listening to the French national anthem having won the Longines Grand Prix to pocket the US$230,000 winner's purse. It took his total takings to nearly US$290,000 for the week. "It has been a wonderful week for me. Everything went off well and the horse was wonderful," 47th-ranked Delaveau said, speaking with the help of an interpreter.
Then, with a little bit of Gallic humour, he gave a possible explanation for the astounding success. "The horse was comfortable in Hong Kong. I don't think he will want to come back with me to France."
While most of the other riders used a couple of mounts during the three days of competition, Delaveau chose to go with Lacrimoso 3 mostly, and the mount repaid the faith of his master by winning three of the four competitions. Delaveau, 48, won yesterday morning's prelude on his second-choice mount, Ornella Mail.
The imperious rule of the French master was greeted with awe by his peers.
Second runner-up in the Grand Prix countryman Kevin Staut said: "What he has done is amazing. To win four in one competition is remarkable".
A total of 28 riders began the night. Missing was Hong Kong's Raena Leung Hou-ling whose hopes of taking part in her first major Grand Prix event were crushed with her mount Orphee du Granit suffering a sore back. "The vet had a look at the horse and found that she had a sore back," said Simon Ip Sik-on, president of the Hong Kong Equestrian Federation. "It was best that Raena withdrew."
The night was not without controversy - at least for the layman.
After the first three riders had gone out on course, the judges deemed the time to complete the course should be extended by three seconds, from 77 to 80 seconds.
It was somewhat akin to moving the goalposts after the action had begun.
An official explained: "The judges can do that if they feel the course conditions are tough and the horses are finding it difficult to adapt. They don't always use it, but it can be done".
Try telling that to the first three riders - Germany's Marc Bettinger, Belgian Olivier Philippaerts and Swiss miss Jane Richard Philips - who were the guinea pigs. They all lucked out with faults and time penalties. But 15 other riders made it to the second round with clear rounds.