La Baule, France – May 08, 2022 – The €500,000 Rolex Grand Prix – Ville de La Baule CSIO 5* de France held all its promises this Sunday in a packed François André stadium. Fifty couples were at the start of the first round, only the best thirteen could qualify for the second one.
After a clear round over the 14 fences course designed by the course designer Grégory Bodo (FRA), four French combinations qualified for the second round of the competition: Nicolas Delmotte (FRA) and Dallas Vegas Batilly, Pénélope Leprévost (FRA) and GFE Excalibur de La Tour Vidal, Simon Delestre (FRA) and Cayman Jolly Jumper and Pierre-Marie Friant (FRA) and Urdy d’Estrée. There was also the Canadian Beth Underhill (CAN) associated with Dieu Merci Van T&L, a stallion owned by 2008 Olympic champion and Canadian team leader Eric Lamaze.
In this course reduced to 8 fences, the Canadian couple was more agile, faster and managed to complete a second clear round. With this victory, Beth Underhill (CAN) becomes the 7th woman to add her name to the record of winners in La Baule, after Janou Lefèbvre (FRA) in 1962, 1971, 1947 and 1975, Alexandra Ledermann (FRA) in 1994, Alison Bradley (GBR) in 1995, Katie Monahan-Prudent (USA) in 1997, Angelique Hoorn (NED) in 2002 and Simone Blum (GER) in 2019.
Yuri Mansur (BRA) and Vitiki, also double clear, claimed second place. With a total of 4 points and in the same time, Grégory Wathelet (BEL) and Nevados S and the Frenchman Pierre-Marie Friant and Urdy d’Astrée are 3rd ex aequo.
Beth Underhill (CAN), winner with Dieu Merci Van T & L
“I have a great track record in riding with a little break in my career; I started again not too long ago. I’ve been riding my horse for two months and this is the third 1.60m course I’ve done with Dieu Merci. He suits me perfectly because he is fast and has very long strides so we match up very well. This morning, I went around the stadium and saw all the names of the winners on the marble in the René Pasquier stand, where my name will soon be. I saw the name of Eric (Lamaze), inscribed twice in 2011 and 2014. Eric told me after the first round to go for it because I could do it. I’m thrilled with my performance and thrilled to be with Eric who has given so much and continues to give us everything. Thank you very much to Rolex for their support over the years for our sport. A new chapter has just been written in La Baule with Rolex and there is no doubt that this will bring great stories in the years to come. The plan for Team Canada is now to go to the CSIO5* in Rome, I will then return to Canada and continue to ride Eric’s horses. The first time I rode for Team Canada was in 1990. We are very close with Eric and we get along very well. He contacted me in November and trusted me, so I followed him and stopped my activity at that time to focus on my riding career.“
Yuri Mansur (BRA), 2nd with Vitiki
“When I came back on the track in the second round, I was the first one to get a clear in the first round and I saw that there was no one who was clear. So I wanted to be fast. My strategy was very good because it showed that it is difficult to do better than that. You also have to rely on luck. I think it was the best strategy. There wasn’t much else to do.“
Pierre-Marie Friant (FRA), 3rd ex aequo with Urdy d’Astrée
“It’s magic! It’s true that I’m happy because Urdy d’Astrée had some small health problems at the beginning of the year and he came back in great shape. I had the time to put him back together very, very well and he came back in great shape. My horse responded today. He gave it his best and I am very happy. As for the fault, we often say that it’s the rider’s fault, but maybe I took too many risks. But that’s the game. I am delighted with this 3rd place!“
Pierre de Brissac, president of the Jumping international de La Baule
“This edition was very special. I would like to thank Franck Louvrier, Mayor of La Baule-Escoublac, because without him, we wouldn’t be here, as well as the Rolex company, of course. This is the first page of a book that is being turned, so many things need to be improved, but we will be there for the future. I have had a lot of feedback from riders saying that the course was very good. The French Equestrian Federation helped us to pass this new stage. Thanks to the president Serge Lecomte. Thanks also to Sophie Dubourg, the National Technical Director.“
Franck Louvrier, Mayor of La Baule-Escoublac
“I’m very happy with this partnership with Rolex, it’s like a great love story that is beginning. I also wanted to emphasize that this event remains very popular, which makes us proud. I would like to thank the public who came in great numbers and all the participants in this event.“
Frédéric Cottier, sport director of the Jumping international de La Baule
“Gregory Bodo’s course was very good, insofar as the integrity of the horses must be preserved, which in my opinion is the main thing. You have to pose technical problems to the riders and make the course as physically comfortable as possible for the horses. And it went tremendously well.“
Final Results – €500,000 Derby Région des Pays de La Loire CSIO 5*
1) Beth Underhill (CAN) & Dieu Merci van T&L – 0/ 0 – 43.77
2) Yuri Mansur (BRA) & Vitiki – 0/ 0 – 45.00
3) Pierre Marie Friant (FRA) & Urdy d’Astree – 0 / 4 – 41.66
Source: Press Release from Agence Consulis for Jumping International de La Baule
Photos: © Jumping International de La Baule / PSV Photos