Ramatuelle, Saint Tropez, France – June 03, 2023 – In the glamorous world of equestrian sport, few events capture the essence of luxury, competition, and prestige quite like the Longines Global Champions Tour of Ramatuelle, St. Tropez CSI 5* & CSI 2*. It was Julien Epaillard (FRA) who captivated the crowd with Donatello d’Auge to win the €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of St Tropez, Ramatuelle CSI 5*.
In the fastest jump-off of the season, last to go in the 6-combination jump-off, Christian Kukuk (GER) and Mumbai had to settle for second place just 0.44 seconds behind the blistering Frenchman. Fellow countryman Simon Delestre (FRA) put two home riders on the podium collecting third place with Dexter Fontenis Z.
An emotional Epaillard smiled: “Donatello has won two days here, and it is incredible to win here in front of a home crowd. This horse is just fantastic, the atmosphere at this show is amazing and this is one of my best victories I think. It’s not so easy to win a Global Champions Tour Grand Prix so we work everyday for this, so when this happens we can enjoy it.”
Watching the last part of the jump-off was a long one for me. With lots of dangerous riders coming anything could happen. To qualify for the LGCT Super Grand Prix is special and we will do our best to make sure we are in the best form.”
After his second, silver position finish of the year Christian Kukuk (GER) told GCTV: “I still have the eye on the golden ticket to the LGCT Super Grand Prix for sure – it’s not over. This is the second time I am second now [this year], so that is a little bit disappointing – but it is not a shame to be beaten by Julien Epaillard; he is one of the fastest riders on our circuit and I was very close.”
A beaming Simon Delestre (FRA) smiled: “It’s really amazing to be here, I always enjoy to be here in St. Tropez – it is a very special show.. Dexter has had an amazing start to the year. He was second and third in Doha, and now still third, so it’s very positive for the rest of the season, I can only be happy with this result.”
The event which is held annually in the breathtaking setting of Ramatuelle, near the iconic St. Tropez is renowned for its opulence and natural beauty, this location serves as the perfect backdrop for this elite gathering of equestrian talent.
From its prestigious location to its high-stakes competition and lavish celebrations, this event encapsulates the essence of luxury and athletic prowess. Celebrating the seamless fusion of sport and sophistication, the LGCT Grand Prix of St Tropez, Ramatuelle, was an unrivalled experience that showcased the finest in show jumping alongside an array of exclusive lifestyle elements.
In round 1, a gut wrenching single time fault from Abdel Saïd (BEL) and Bonnie Amie proved the course was jumpable but meant they wouldn’t feature in the jump-off today. The clears then started coming thick and fast as Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) with H&M Legend of Love and Simon Delestre (FRA) on Dexter made sure to guarantee a jump-off.
As the first rider to go in the jump off Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) and H&M Legend of Love clearly had one thing on their mind. Quick and clear. The duo put the pressure on right out of the gate, meaning all riders to follow had to throw caution to the wind.
Setting the pace for those that followed, Simon Delestre (FRA) and Dexter proved their reliability and competitive edge. Stopping the clock at 39.32 seconds, the crowd both in attendance and tuned in LIVE on GCTV thought the top podium position was decided.
Just when spectators didn’t think it could get any faster, temperatures soared when Julien Epaillard (FRA) and Donatello d’Auge shifted up a gear with fantastic tight turns. On the exact same time as Delestre mid course he threw everything at the last line to claim the lead in 38.40 sec.
Next to go saw Edwina Tops-Alexander (AUS) on Fellow Castlefield, fresh off their impressive win in the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid, the question on everyone’s lips – could they do the double? A neat and tight jump-off saw the duo finish just 1.44 seconds behind the ultimate winners.
A danger to Epaillard’s lead, Scott Brash (GBR) and Hello Jefferson set off to a flying start. They made up the ground in between, but as he propelled to the last he got a little too deep and the fence came crashing down costing him the win against some of the biggest names in the sport.
The crowd were on their feet as Christan Kukuk (GER) and Mumbai entered into the arena, knowing that if anyone could beat Epillard and Dexter’s time, it was this combination. Giving it his all, it looked as if the pair were set to take the win but as they crossed the finish line the Longines clock showed it was a French win for 2023!
So it would be Julien Epaillard (FRA) who sparkled in Saint-Tropez and earned his place in the Longines Global Champions Tour Super Grand Prix in Prague this November. The thrilling Championship race now moves along the glittering French Riviera coastline to Cannes, for the sixth leg of the 2023 season!
Final Results – €300,000 Longines Global Champions Tour of St. Tropez CSI 5*
1) Julien Epaillard (FRA) & Donatello d’Auge – 0 / 0 – 38.40
2) Christian Kukuk (GER) & Mumbai – 0 / 0 – 38.88
3) Simon Delestre (FRA) & Dexter Fontenis Z – 0 / 0 – 39.32
Source: Press Release from the Longines Global Champions Tour
Photos: © LGCT / Stefano Grasso / Ljuba Buzzola