First to go in round 1, first to go in the jump-off and first overall!
Simon Delestre and I Amelusina R 51 took top honours in the historic 47th Copa El Rey presented by Caser Group Helvetia on the penultimate day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid.
Pushing themselves to the limit the 4 man jump-off left the fully packed Club de Campo Villa de Madrid on the edge-of-their-seats. It was a true spectacle for thousands of equestrian enthusiasts as the crowd erupted when Simon crossed the finish line. Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida and the 9 year old Pegasus Jataki had to settle for second place while Christian Kukuk and new mount Just Be Gentle rounded off the podium.
A delighted Simon Delestre smiled: “The atmosphere was incredible. We had a really amazing first round but I did not expect there to only be four clear rounds. Going first with only four riders I had to try everything I could. He has a massive canter so I had one less from [fences] 1 to 2, then I was fast enough and really proud of him.”
Looking ahead to tomorrow's Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid, Delestre has his eyes on the prize: “Tomorrow is a different story, I am going to ride Cayman Jolly Jumper, who won yesterday. So my horses are in super shape this weekend, and hope this will continue tomorrow.”
The Copa El Rey is a key event in the Spanish equestrian calendar, named after King Alfonso XIII, who was a passionate horseman and a great supporter of equestrian sports. Over the years, the King’s Cup has been won by many of the greatest riders in the history of the sport and now Simon Delestre adds his name. Some of the most famous names to have lifted the trophy include Nelson Pessoa, Rodrigo Pessoa, John Whitaker, and Ludger Beerbaum.
The final class of the day, at the 112th edition of the show in Madrid drew a bumper crowd, with passionate fans lining the arena to watch the competition unfold in the dusky afternoon sunlight.
First out the starting blocks and producing a clear from the get go was Simon Delestre and I Amelusina. In quick succession the clears kept coming as home hero Manuel Fernandez Saro, Rodrigo Giesteira and Christian Kukuk made it four though to the jump-off within the first 8 competitors.
However, the course then proved too challenging for the remaining 36 combinations as no one else kept all the rails up in the huge grass arena. An agonising final fence fell for fan favorite Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and D'Orient Batilly as the Spanish crowd gave him a standing ovation. It was a day of four faults as some of the biggest names in the industry missed out on the €100,000 jump-off like two time Longines Global Champions Tour Champion Edwina Tops-Alexander, Harrie Smolders, world number one Henrik von Eckermann, Shane Breen and Olivier Philippaerts.
Number one was Simon’s lucky number as he went all guns blazing in an electric jump-off taking strides out all over the shortened course. I Amelusina R 51 stopped the clock in 38.46s leaving the rest of the field to chase him down.
Spain’s only hope for a home win Manuel Fernandez Saro onboard Jarlin de Torres was the first to challenge Delestre’s time but an early rail knocked him straight out of contention of winning the lion’s share of the prize purse.
Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida and Pegasus Jataki gave it everything they had but an extra check to the final fence cost him the win today as they finished in 39.94s.
Last to Chirstian Kukuk riding the Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha winner earlier this year with Philipp Weishuapt, Just Be Gentle looked set to beat the half way point. The crowd cheered him on to the final oxer but his turn was no match for Simon’s and the pair fell into third with a time of 0.15s.
1st Place - Simon Delestre & I Amelusina R 51- 38.46s
2nd Place - Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida & Pegasus Jataki - 39.94s
3rd Place - Christian Kukuk & Just Be Gentle - 40.15s
4th Place - Manuel Fernandez Saro & Jarlin de Torres - 41.66s, 4f
And so ends another spell-binding day at the fourth leg of the 2023 Longines Global Champions Tour comes to a close. All eyes now look ahead to the LGCT Grand Prix of Madrid, set to take to the Club de Campo Villa de Madrid grass arena tomorrow, Sunday 14 May, at 4:45pm CET. Catch all the action LIVE on GCTV!