Julien Epaillard Sizzles in LGCT Madrid Speed Class Win
Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
The final day of competition at the Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid saw flying Frechman Julien Epaillard (FRA) chalk up yet another speed class win with his incredibly fast Safari D Auge. Julien took the win in the penultimate class of the weekend, finishing two seconds ahead of Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE) with H&M Second Chance, and third placed man Eric van der Vleuten (NED) with Djoost Again.
Speaking after his win Julien said “It’s very good to get a clear this week. I have competitive horses and I always try - it doesn’t always work, but today it did! It’s a fantastic ring and it’s a good opportunity for me to be here.”
First to really light up the timesheets was former Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid winner Luciana Diniz (POR) with Lennox, the big bay horse powering around the course to set a time of 63.98s. But immediately her time was cut down by more than a second, as Eric van der Vleuten (NED) and Djoost Again put a score of 62.57s on the board.
Some riders opted to use the course as a confidence booster for their horses, with Harrie Smolders (NED) and Don VHP Z, Ben Maher (GBR) with F One Usa and Athina Onassis (GRE) with EFS Top Contender all picking up time faults despite jumping clear.
But speed demon Julien Epaillard (FRA) left the rest of the field in his wake with the lightning fast Safari D Auge, the chestnut horse flying around the bouncing grass arena and the Frenchman finding the perfect stride throughout the twisting course, gently coaxing his horse to a consistent galloping pace. They took an impressive three seconds off Eric’s time to set a new time to beat of 59.47s, piling the pressure on those to come.
Another speed merchant, Karel Cox (BEL) gave it a strong shot with Cava, but had to settle behind Julien - only able to make it across the finish in 62.44s. Pius Schwizer (SUI) took an inside turn early on with Ulane Belmaniere, looking dangerous to contest Julien’s time. But the pressure was too much, and a pole tumbled; as did their hopes of a win today.
Malin Baryard-Johnsson (SWE) and H&M Second Chance narrowed the margin, but despite their valiant effort they too fell short by almost two seconds of Julien’s time but were able to take second this afternoon. Other clears came from Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) with Veronese Teamjoy, Bart Bles (NED) with Kriskras Dv, Jane Richard Philips (SUI) with Foica van den Bisschop, Daniel Deusser (GER) with Killer Queen VDM, Gerardo Menendez Mieres (ESP) with Cassino DC, William Whitaker (GBR) with RMF Charly, Maikel van der Vleuten (NED) with Beauville Z, Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) with Forever, Emil Hallundbaek (DAN) with Cool Hand Luke, Peder Fredricson (SWE) with Cute S, Marc Houtzager (NED) with Sterrehof's Edinus, Marcus Ehning (GER) Calanda, Michael Whitaker (GBR) with El Wee Widge and Alberto Zorzi (ITA) with Cinsey.
But it would be Julien Epaillard who would reign supreme in the penultimate class of LGCT Madrid. The final class of the weekend the Copa del Rey will kick off at 17:00 local time, tune in then via GC TV to watch all the action LIVE.