Ömer Karaevli secured the second-ever Turkish win on the Longines Global Champions Tour in a thrilling jump-off on the final day of Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping with Avant Toi.
Adding this evening's exciting class in the French capital city to his list of successes, Karaevli snatched the win from Edwina Tops-Alexander by just 0.2s.
Having only ridden Avant Toi for just over 3 months the pair proved their talent, scope and consistency at the highest level of the sport. The Olympic rider was presented his award this evening by Mathilde Pinault and Virginie Couperie Eiffel.
The pair took the lion’s share of the €148,700 prize purse, finishing ahead of Australian rider Edwina Tops-Alexander and Catenda, and home hero Edward Levy with Uno de Cerisy.
A smiling Omer said: “It is so special to be so close under the Eiffel Tower with such a beautiful crowd, last three days it has been amazing and what a feeling for us riders to have such a horsemad crowd with so many people.
“It is amazing, what a horse. I am so happy and proud of him. I don’t know my horse that well yet so I also might be a bit lucky to just be a bit faster than Edwina today. We are very happy to represent our country and our team in such a way, we have come so far and hope in the future we will do even better things. ”
As the sun began to set behind the Eiffel Tower, 31 of the world’s top international horses and riders took centre stage in the 1.50/1.55m Saint Laurent Eiffel Challenge.
Gregory Bodo put together a challenging and technical course, featuring plenty of related distances. The unique aspect of the Paris arena is its slope and rather square shape, making for shorter distances and disrupting the rhythm in the lines. A hefty Saint Laurent double set along the expansive VIP claimed a few victims. But faults fell all around the arena and at the half way stage Edwina Tops-Alexander was the only clear round and it looked like there might not have been a jump-off.
But 5 combinations earnt themselves a spot in the power packed jump-off as local spectators watched on with eager eyes from the sold out grandstands.
First out the starting gates, Edwina Tops-Alexander had a perfect roll back and took strides out where possible. She played it a bit safe in the final line but crucially kept all the fences up finishing in 40.05s putting pressure of the rest of the field and giving her a chance of a podium today.
Temperatures soared as Irishman Marc McAuley entered the arena onboard his wife’s Tiny Toon Semilly. They looked close to the win, with fans on the edge of their seats but even the smoothest of turns couldn’t save the pair as a fence fell and they were out of the race for the win today.
With his hopes set on a home win and the only chance for France, Edward Levy looked to be in with a chance of taking top honours but the Longines double came tumbling down and even though he was faster with 4 faults on the board he had to settle for third place today.
Ömer Karaevli pulled out all the stops on his new ride Avant Toi proving the pressure didn’t get to him and with a flat out gallop finished sub 40s in 39.85s as he punched the air and pointed at his horse to a standing ovation from the passionate crowd.
There was heartbreak for last to go Eduardo Alvarez Aznar and the one and only Rokfeller de Pleville Bois Margot who hadn’t been ridden in any other class this weekend. Saving him for this jump-off Eduardo was up on the clock by a fraction of a second before agonisingly a rail fell and 4 faults went onto the board handing the win to Turkey again!
So there would only be two double clears in the final showdown in the iconic setting under the Eiffel Tower in the city of lights. All eyes now turn to the 10th stage of the season as the world’s best head to Monaco to battle it out in the hub of sports.