Bromont, Quebec, Canada – July 30, 2023 – It was an American Olympic veteran vs young local rising star Sunday afternoon at the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park, and with the difference of just one rail down, Peter Leone (USA) captured the win in the $45,900 Grand Prix CSI 2*, presented by the Government of Quebec.
Riding Donner for the Lionshare Farm of Bedford, NY, Leone was one of only two riders to successfully navigate Michel Vaillancourt’s (CAN) challenging first round course to move forward to a jump-off. Boucherville, Quebec’s Alexanne Thibault (CAN) and her own Cidanos Z were the others, having posted a clean first round early in the class.
Leone had the distinct advantage of following Thibault in the jump off on his 13-year-old campaigner Donner, and although they have had a break from competing together (being reunited only in the past 10 days), as soon as Thibault pulled the rail at fence 5A, he knew what he had to do.
“Alexanne [Thibault] is a talented and very fast young rider, especially on [Cidanos Z],” remarked Leone. “I knew if she went clear it would be difficult for me to beat her against the clock. I was lucky today that she had a pole down and then I played a bit of chess. I went for a neat clear and I had a lot of confidence that Donner would leave the jumps up for me.”
Fortunately Donner did leave the jumps up, crossing the finish timers in a jump-off time of 49.96 seconds, considerably slower than Thibault’s time of 42.85 but her one rail down adding four faults to her score.
Leone made particular mention of the strength of the courses designed by Canadian Olympic Silver medalist from the 1976 Olympics, Quebec’s own Michel Vaillancourt.
“I really have to commend him,” said Leone. “It takes a lot of courage as a course designer to build a ‘proper’ two-star track, when there weren’t a lot of entries in the class. It’s very tempting for a course designer to make the standard of jumping lower, because of the number of entries. But he made a very good track. Very challenging and beautifully presented. He used the ring well. I take my hat off to Michel.
“I love the atmosphere [at the Bromont Olympic Equestrian Park]” Leone continued. “The people, the enthusiasm, the crowd… is so much better here than almost any other show we go to. The energy and the people really bring out the best in the horses and in the riders.”
Having to go first in the jump off put the pressure on Alexanne Thibault, 25, who is an ‘Elite’ member of the Programme de soutien au développement de l’excellence, organized by the sport ministry of Quebec and sport federations, to support and nurture the development and progression of athletes to reach the highest level of their sport.
Thibault has been showing at Bromont since her days as a pony hunter rider, working her way up through the equitation ranks to the jumper ring. She imported Cidanos Z as a 5-year-old, and now at 8 this was his first week showing at the FEI level.
“I was just hoping for a good round and a positive experience,” laughed Thibault of her second place finish. “A clear round completely surpassed my expectations!”
The pair had great results all week, finishing second to America’s Kama Godek in the 1.40m Soltek Equestrian Speed Class and third behind Olympic veterans Leone and Mac Cone (Canada) in the 1.45m Open Welcome presented by Assante Group El-Chaer.
“Having brought him along myself it’s really gratifying having him jump at this level successfully. He’s quite a character and can be feisty in the warm up ring. But once he’s in the show ring he’s naturally fast and really knows his job.
“Going first in the jump-off, I thought I might as well give it my all. The time was there and he likes going fast. I think he also really likes the crowd. The ambiance was really great – having the crowd back in Bromont after the past few years is wonderful.”
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit www.internationalbromont.org.
Final Results – $45,900 Grand Prix CSI 2*
1) Peter Leone (USA) & Donner – 0 / 0 – 49.96
2) Alexanne Thibault (CAN) & Cidanos Z – 0 / 4 – 42.85
3) Mac Cone (CAN) & Con Couleur – not informed
Source: Press Release from International Bromont
Photos: © Tom Von Kapherr Photography