French victorious in Longines League of Nations

NB CHIO496 Donatello d Auge Epaillard Julien FRA CSIO5 LLN N07 6112
Picture: Nils Boeser

A spectacular ending to Friday's action at the 75th CHIO Rotterdam! The French showjumping team wowed with a perfect performance in the Longines League of Nations by not getting any penalty points throughout. They beat out the Swedish and British team to take first place in a competition for national teams for the thirteenth time in the history of this event.

The French quartet, consisting of Simon Delestre, Kevin Staut, Julien Epaillard and Olivier Perreau, proved untouchable in their performance in the 5 star competition which closed off Friday's action at this CHIO Rotterdam. In seven rides divided over two rounds, the French combinations stayed in the clear. The Swedish team came nearly as close to perfection, but unfortunately Malin Baryard-Johnsson had an error with H&M Indiana in the second round, bringing the team total to four penalty points. Team Great-Britain came in third place: they also had a team total of four penalty points, but the Swedes were faster in the combined seconds of their rides.

The French team was more than pleased with their performance in Rotterdam. Chef d’equipe Henk Nooren and his team have been preparing for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where they hope to make the host country proud. "When we began building this team we as a country did not have very many combinations ready for this level. We wanted to give as many new and upcoming combinations the opportunity to prove themselves ahead of the Olympics." He spoke highly of the members of his team here. "To produce seven clears is impressive."

Simon Delestre had a double cause for celebration today: alongside winning here, today is also his 43rd birthday. He was happy with his and the team's performance: "What we did here today was really something special. To win in this way is fantastic and amazing, and it's very important to be able to do this at this moment ahead of Paris. We all give everything for our country, it's teamwork." For Olivier Perreau, it was the first time winning a competition for national teams. "I'm very happy with that."

After being absent for several years, Kevin Staut was back on the team today with cuderia 1918 Viking d’la Rousserie. "We've had a really long way to come and to be back on this level again makes me a bit emotional. We've had tough days, weeks, and tournaments. To compete here in Rotterdam was always the intention, but a few weeks ago I didn't know yet if my horse would be ready for it. What we achieved today makes me happy, and I'm proud of my horse. It's also great to be on a team with these good guys and good friends. We definitely have the right team spirit amongst us."

Julien Epaillard appeared in the arena with Donatello d’Auge, a gelding he has bred himself. "I'm very proud of my horse, we did amazing here. It's great to see he now had the confidence and experience to perform like this in a competition for national teams like this. Now we just keep going, and work to get ready for Paris."

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