Looking Back: LGCT Doha 2019 Champion Julien Epaillard
Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso
As we look ahead to the 2020 season opener at the Longines Arena at AL SHAQAB, Doha, we caught up with last year’s LGCT Grand Prix of Doha winner, Julien Epaillard. Hear what it takes to win in the Qatari capital, and what it means to the riders to achieve success in these early stages of the circuit here:
Q: You pulled off an incredible performance at AL SHAQAB, Doha in 2019. How did it feel to win at the prestigious opening leg in 2019 and achieve such success at the beginning of the year?
I was very surprised to win. This event was incredible for me! I first planned to compete with Virtuose Champeix but he was not in a top shape so I had to change last minute for Usual Suspect d’Auge which was a big change of program. Starting the year with the qualification for the LGCT Super Grand Prix made me very happy!
Q: Looking ahead to the 2020 season, what is your plan/strategy for the coming year with your horses?
I am lucky to have many Grand Prix horses this year. My priority will be the team so every time I will compete, I’ll put my best horse in the GCL classes. It is important for us (Monaco Aces) to have good results in the GCL series so I hope I will be able to qualify for the Grand Prix with this very good horse and then take another horse for the Grand Prix. Of course, it might not be possible every time but I’ll try as much as possible to keep my horses fresh and in a good shape throughout the season.
Q: Places in the GC Prague Playoffs are highly coveted, and the battle for those podium spots and golden tickets to the LGCT Super Cup is fierce. Tell us about this competition and what it means to make it to a place at the Playoffs?
It was amazing last year. With the team we had an average place on the overall GCL ranking, it was not terrific so our plan was to put full bet on Prague. We did our best so the horses were ready for the team competitions. I rode my best mare (Queeletta) in the Super Cup so I kind of sacrificed my Super Grand Prix, even though my horse (Virtuose Champeix) is very good! He is more a horse to compete outdoor rather than indoor.
I think this year, our goal is to try to improve our overall season ranking and to arrive in Prague in the same conditions than last year with a strong team and horses in a best shape possible. This is our goal.
Individually, the places for the LGCT Super Grand Prix are “expensive”. I would like to qualify again indeed. I will do my best for this, I’ll fight! If I am qualified, I will try to bring two horses in a great shape in Prague.
Q: What horses will you bring to the tour this season? Are there any new faces to look out for?
I will have Virtuose Champeix, Queeletta, Toupie de la Roque, Alibi de la Roque, Usual Suspect d’Auge as well. I will try to compete in as much legs as possible with different horses. I am lucky to have many horses so it will allow me to do a specific program for each of them and I hope it will be the best one, without mistake, so the horses can remain in a great shape throughout the season of the LGCT.
Q: Away from the show jumping ring, how do you like to wind down? Do you have any hobbies or interests that might surprise us?
I actually do! I have less time than I used to have but I love to ride enduro motorcycle in the countryside paths. When I was younger I used to ride motocross so I like to wind down in the forest, in secluded places, in nature with a moto and just chill when I have time.
Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha takes place from 5-7 March 2020. To find out more, click here.