Odds against Patrice Delaveau repeating heroics in Hong Kong Masters
Rivals predict that Frenchman's four wins in six competitions last year is unlikely to happen again
Defending Longines Hong Kong Masters champion Patrice Delaveau, described as "a man who was touched by God", will need a miracle to repeat his heroics from last year, his rivals insist.
Delaveau stunned showjumping at 2013's inaugural event when he won four of the six competitions, including two majors, to blow away the opposition in Asia's only five-star equestrian event.
"He was touched by God last time. It is impossible for him, or anyone else, to do what he did and win four competitions in three days," said Kevin Staut, France's world No 9, ahead of the three-day event, which starts on Friday.
World No 20 Australian Edwina Tops-Alexander, added: "That was an amazing result. It was unique and people still talk about that. But that is a very rare occurrence and I don't think we will see something like it happen again."
The second edition features six competitions, two a day, with the main event the Longines Grand Prix, which has jumps of 1.6 metres, on Sunday, for a purse of US$700,000. Last year Delaveau, on board nine-year-old stallion Lacrimoso 3, pulled off an immaculate display of horsemanship to win the top prize.
"He was on a fantastic run and entered the Grand Prix with his horse in superb form. It was the best weekend of his life and it is very rare that someone can dominate like that," said Alexander, who will be riding two newly-purchased mounts, Lintea Tequila and Old Chap Tame, over the next three days.
Delaveau agreed himself. "Last year everything fell into place. I felt good, my horse felt good. I was stunned myself when I realised what I had done. But yes, it will be difficult to repeat."
Twenty-nine overseas riders plus Hong Kong's Kenneth Cheng Man-kit, will take part.
Organisers said the field included four Olympic champions, six world champions and five European champions, but top British pair Scott Brash and Ben Maher have stayed away and there are only three riders from the world's top 10: Germany's Ludger Beerbaum (3), Delaveau (6) and Staut (9).
"Some riders are taking part in an American circuit which is ongoing but I chose to come to Hong Kong for this is where it all began for me," Delaveau said.
The Frenchman was ranked 47th last year when he turned up but his feat spurred him on a golden run.
"Last year my horse Lacrimoso hadn't done anything much until he came to Hong Kong.
"This time I'm on a new horse, Carinjo, and who knows, maybe he might do something special, too. Maybe the Hong Kong air might help us both," Delaveau said.