Madrid, Spain – May 13, 2023 – First to go in round 1, first to go in the jump-off and first overall! Simon Delestre (FRA) and I Amelusina R 51 took top honours in the historic 47th Copa El Rey presented by Caser Group Helvetia on the penultimate day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Madrid CSI 5*.
Pushing themselves to the limit the 4 man jump-off left the fully packed Club de Campo Villa de Madrid on the edge-of-their-seats. It was a true spectacle for thousands of equestrian enthusiasts as the crowd erupted when Simon crossed the finish line. Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida (POR) and the 9–year–old Pegasus Jataki had to settle for second place while Christian Kukuk (GER)and new mount Just Be Gentle rounded off the podium.
A delighted Simon Delestre smiled: “The atmosphere was incredible. We had a really amazing first round but I did not expect there to only be four clear rounds. Going first with only four riders I had to try everything I could. He has a massive canter so I had one less from [fences] 1 to 2, then I was fast enough and really proud of him.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid, Delestre has his eyes on the prize: “Tomorrow is a different story, I am going to ride Cayman Jolly Jumper, who won yesterday. So my horses are in super shape this weekend, and hope this will continue tomorrow.”
The Copa El Rey is a key event in the Spanish equestrian calendar, named after King Alfonso XIII, who was a passionate horseman and a great supporter of equestrian sports. Over the years, the King’s Cup has been won by many of the greatest riders in the history of the sport and now Simon Delestre (FRA) adds his name. Some of the most famous names to have lifted the trophy include Nelson Pessoa (BRA), Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), John Whitaker (GBR), and Ludger Beerbaum.
The final class of the day, at the 112th edition of the show in Madrid drew a bumper crowd, with passionate fans lining the arena to watch the competition unfold in the dusky afternoon sunlight.
First out the starting blocks and producing a clear from the get go was Simon Delestre (FRA) and I Amelusina. In quick succession the clears kept coming as home hero Manuel Fernandez Saro, Rodrigo Giesteira (POR) and Christian Kukuk (GER) made it four though to the jump-off within the first 8 competitors.
However, the course then proved too challenging for the remaining 36 combinations as no one else kept all the rails up in the huge grass arena. An agonising final fence fell for fan favorite Eduardo Alvarez Aznar (ESP) and D’Orient Batilly as the Spanish crowd gave him a standing ovation. It was a day of four faults as some of the biggest names in the industry missed out on the €100,000 jump-off like two time Longines Global Champions Tour Champion Edwina Tops-Alexander, Harrie Smolders (NED), world number one Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), Shane Breen (IRL) and Olivier Philippaerts (BEL).
Number one was Simon’s lucky number as he went all guns blazing in an electric jump-off taking strides out all over the shortened course. I Amelusina R 51 stopped the clock in 38.46s leaving the rest of the field to chase him down.
Spain’s only hope for a home win Manuel Fernandez Saro (ESP) onboard Jarlin de Torres was the first to challenge Delestre’s time but an early rail knocked him straight out of contention of winning the lion’s share of the prize purse.
Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida (POR) and Pegasus Jataki gave it everything they had but an extra check to the final fence cost him the win today as they finished in 39.94s.
Last to Christian Kukuk (GER) riding the Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha winner earlier this year with Philipp Weishaupt, Just Be Gentle looked set to beat the half way point. The crowd cheered him on to the final oxer but his turn was no match for Simon’s and the pair fell into third with a time of 40.15s.
Final Results – €100,000 47th Copa El Rey CSI 5*, presented by Caser Group Helvetia
1) Simon Delestre (FRA) & I Amelusina R 51 – 0 / 0 – 38.46
2) Rodrigo Giesteira Almeida (POR) & Pegasus Jataki – 0 / 0 – 39.94
3) Christian Kukuk (GER) & Just Be Gentle – 0 / 0 – 40.15
Source: Press Release from the Longines Global Champions Tour
Photos: © LGCT / Stefano Grasso