In 2009 Michel Robert was crowned the Longines Global Champions Tour champion after winning the final Grand Prix in Doha in the iconic round ring at the Qatar Equestrian Federation headquarters. It was one of 2 championship wins that were based on the outcome of a single Grand Prix with Jessica Kürten winning the title the year before.
Since 2009, 14 years ago, no French rider has won the championship with only Oliver Robert getting onto the overall podium in 2021 when completing the championship in 3rd behind Peder Fredricson and Henrik von Eckermann. But as the next stage in Paris comes as the half-way stage, the French have high hopes in Simon Delestre, the current nr. 5 on the standings.
The 42-year-old Frenchman and 2015 Antwerp Grand Prix winner has only competed at 4 LGCT stages this season, qualifying for the main event at all 4. With 2 podium finishes already in the bag, Delestre was part of the award ceremony as many times as championship leader Maikel van der Vleuten and nr. 3 Christian Kukuk. Impressively, of the entire top 10 of the standings he is the only one with just 4 counting scores, resulting in the highest points per round average, boasting an average of 30,75 points per stage, on average 1 point per stage more than current leader Maikel van der Vleuten. With the season winning average always being over 30 points per stage it is worth noting that Delestre is the only one above that threshold.
At the end of the season the best 8 results count and Delestre has been efficient at every stage so far. The double clears gave him his podium finishes and when not clear he’s always finished on a very fast 4 penalties, a tactical move allowing him to still add big points from the stage to his championship tally.
With horses like Dexter Fontenis Z who podiumed in Doha and St. Tropez and Cayman Jolly Jumper or I.Amelusina R, Delestre has more fire power than for example Maikel van der Vleuten or Malin Baryard-Johnson, the current 1 and 2 in the championship, making him a real threat to the ‘traditional' front-runners in the race for the crown.
The man from Metz in eastern-France, will be presents at the Longines Paris Eiffel jumping over the bassin de Champs de Mars, right under the Eiffel Tower. And like we’ve just seen in Stockholm, a rider can always do a bit more in front of home crowds. Delestre will need that extra push from the enthusiastic French as his only Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix win was recorded aboard Hermes Ryan in 2015, in the same year he booked his highest championship finish as 4th.
Though in Paris Delestre can not over take Maikel van der Vleuten on the championship standings, the top 4 is warned that the man is on a mission