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Global Equine - News
 

News


Aug 14, 2015


Hermes 5***** at the Grand Palais Paris




I cannot imagine a better way to spend a weekend than one that combined Paris and show jumping- equestrian chic at its very best! That’s exactly how I would sum up my weekend with the Haras Du Ry team at the CSI Five Star Hermes show at the Grand Palais, Paris. Over 3 days the gladiators of world show jumping, including 25 of the world Longine FEI ranked top 30, brought their horses to the very centre of Paris.  To top it off during the daytime events, warm Spring sunshine streamed through the glass domed roof of this iconic building illuminating the magnificent arena. 

The spectacular arena set up at the Grand Palais for the Hermes Masters ©Jacqui Ridley
The spectacular arena set up at the Grand Palais for the Hermes Masters ©Jacqui Ridley

The now world famous Hermès fashion label began as a small harness workshop in Paris, which was dedicated to serving European noblemen, creating luxury harnesses and bridles for horse-drawn carriages. The Hermes jumping saddle was in fact one of its foundation products early in the 19th century. I knew nothing of this before the event but now, of course, it will have to be one of my favourite labels... if ever I can afford it!

The prestigious Hermes branding ©Jacqui Ridley
The prestigious Hermes branding ©Jacqui Ridley

On arrival at this prestigious event we were issued with passes and Hermes party bags. The riders’ party on Friday evening was held in the centre of Paris at the 4 level Hermes store.  Needless to say the team enjoyed the champagne and caviar served surrounded by racks of fabulous clothing with price tags in the thousands.

The Australian crew behaving ourselves at the riders party (from left to right) myself, Eliana Dery, Amy Graham, Paige Jardine and Sarah Beale
The Australian crew behaving ourselves at the riders party (from left to right) myself, Eliana Dery, Amy Graham, Paige Jardine and Sarah Beale ©Jacqui Ridley

Without doubt the best ride on the first day of competition was from Bertram Allen; such a talented rider who is 110% at one with his horse. At just 19 years of age, he is ranked in the world’s top 10 and masterfully scooped the Prix Hermes Sellier 1.50 speed class. On his 17 year old stallion Romanov by Heartbreaker, he confidently took the shortest course possible and walked away with 24 500 Euros.

Saturday’s team competition saw Amy paired with French rider, Julien Epaillard.  Ten teams contested this event over 2 rounds on a 1.60m course. At the end of the first round Amy and Julien were one of 2 teams who jumped clear and their game plan was to have a proper crack at the jump off.  Sitting beside me Amy I asked Amy if she’d discussed a plan with Julien, her answer was ‘yeh… he wants to gallop!’ Amy’s coach, Henry Prudent advised her to cut the first line back from 7 strides to 6 so straight away it was certain that she would have to ‘gallop’ this one! I watched and counted the strides as riders ahead of her rode the jump off… no one cut that line back to 6 strides.  With a clear round from Julien and a daring fastest time and clear from Amy, the team were unbeaten! What a great excuse for celebrations that night!

Amy going for a gallop during the jump off ©Jacqui Ridley
Amy going for a gallop during the jump off ©Jacqui Ridley

The prize giving ceremony on the second day with winning pair Amy Graham AUS and Julien Epailard FRA ©Jacqui Ridley
The prize giving ceremony on the second day with winning pair Amy Graham (AUS) and Julien Epailard (FRA) ©Jacqui Ridley

It was really hot in the centre of Paris and the horses were struggling a little with the abnormally warm weather: so good to feel real warmth again for me though after my first full European winter! While the competition arena provided a wonderfully open space for the course, the warm up area was very small and with even 4 or 5 horses warming up it was tight.

Bella having a walk out on the fake grass set up along the Champs Elysees ©Jacqui Ridley
Bella having a walk out on the fake grass set up along the Champs Elysees ©Jacqui Ridley

The tiny warm up arena with German rider, Christian Ahlmann warming up Aragon Z ©Jacqui Ridley
The tiny warm up arena with German rider, Christian Ahlmann warming up Aragon Z ©Jacqui Ridley

On the final day the Grand Prix Hermes provided yet another challenge for Amy and Bella.  The course was significantly bigger and definitely tested the scope of the horses who had qualified.  Lucian Diniz, Brazilian born Portuguese rider, sat with us after the course walk and agreed it was a tough course.  The course did indeed prove difficult with only 8 riders going clear into the jump off including Amy and the wonderous Bella.  There was a lot of breath holding on the part of the crowd and especially all of our HDR team as Amy began her jump off and certainly one hell of a gasp as Amy and Bella negotiated a tight turn- Bella clearly for one split second anticipated a left turn not a right and Amy almost went out the side door! Amazingly Amy finished clear on 40.31 just behind Romain Duguet from Switzerland who finished on 38.99. I saw Amy afterwards just before her interview and she laughed at me and said, ‘I nearly won Hermes… and I nearly fell off!!!!!!’  Got to love her sense of humour!

The beautiful team of Amy Graham and Bella Baloubet ©Jacqui Ridley
The beautiful team of Amy Graham and Bella Baloubet ©Jacqui Ridley

 With Amy in 2nd place in the GP and Edwina Tops-Alexander, placing 7th with one rail down in the jump-off, Australia should be so proud of having two riders in the top 10 at a 5 star International event.  

While I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkling at night I must truly say that the real stars of the weekend were Amy and the amazing Bella Baloubet! After Hermes Bella is now the 23rd best jumping horse in the world and the 3rd best stallion!

Smiles all round from the Aussie support crew and the champ ©Jacqui Ridley
Smiles all round from the Aussie support crew and the champ ©Jacqui Ridley






 
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