The second week of the Spring MET II 2022 concluded on Sunday with the CSI3* 1.50m Grand Prix presented by CHG (Construcciones Hispano Germanas S.A) and once again it was French rider Julien Epaillard that finished on top.
The track built by Spanish mastermind Santiago Varela – who was responsible for the course design at the Tokyo Olympic Games – counted 14 obstacles and 17 efforts. A total of 13 horse-and-rider combinations out of a field of 52 cleared the first-round track and joined the deciding jump-off: Jenny Rankin (IRL) on Carmela Z (Candillo 3 x Nissan Caretino Z), Angelica Augustsson-Zanotelli (SWE) on Catalina (Chacco-Blue x Converter), Harry Charles (GBR) on Aralyn Blue (Chacco-Blue x Ludwig AS), Bart Clarys (BEL) on Joie de Toulon (Toulon x Contact van de Heffinck), Nicolas Delmotte (FRA) on Dallas Vegas Batilly (Cap Kennedy x L’Arc de Triomphe Bois Margot) and Benny Naessens (BEL) on Mistral van de Vogelzang (Elvis Ter Putte x Clinton) were joined by Mathilda Couturier (FRA) on Carlotta de Labarde (Calvaro F.C. x Cabdula du Tillard), Iris Michels (NED) on Bugano de l’Abbaye (Urano Sitte x Made In Semilly), Ludo Philippaerts (BEL) on Mr. Idol S (Plot Blue x Darco), Julien Epaillard (FRA) on Billabong du Roumois (Mylord Carthago x Papillon Rouge), Jérôme Guery (BEL) on Grupo Prom Diego (Verdi TN x Gran Corrado), Michel Robert (FRA) on Bingo Del Tondou (Vigo d’Arsouilles x Querlybet Hero) and Leonie Peeters (BEL) on Tinkoucha Hero Z (Tinka’s Boy x Diamant de Semilly).
In the jump-off, Harry Charles was the first to produce a double clear round – stopping the clock on 39.81. Couturier also jumped clear in a time of 44.42, slotting into runner-up position. However, as so many times before, it was Julien Epaillard that was the fastest of the day, cruising around the track with Billabong du Roumois in 38.37 seconds – pushing Harry Charles to second place, Mathilde Couturier to third, Michel Robert to fourth and last weekend’s Grand winners Jérôme Guery on Grupo Prom Diego to fifth.
“I think today’s class was nice, a real three-star Grand Prix,” Santiago Varela – Sunday’s course designer – commented afterwards. “I was testing some lines for the next competitions that I have in the near future, and all the distances and fences were challenging. The only thing I could have done to make it more difficult was to put more pressure on the riders with the time allowed, but I did not think it was necessary – and I believe the end result was good. The horses jumped well.”
“Julien rode a nice jump-off,” Varela said about the winner. “However, it was not easy for him because it was not only about cantering – he also had to turn, and the turns were actually quite tricky. It was not simple and the difference to second-placed Harry Charles was not huge. Actually, Julien did not turn as quick as Harry, but in my opinion he won in his approach to the double and to the last fence – Harry was more conservative on those parts of the course.”
“For me, the venue in Oliva is very nice and compact, everything you need is here,” Varela said about the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour. “The arena allows the horses to keep the canter and jump big fences. The venue is big enough and very well designed, it is comfortable for the horses and the riders, and for everyone visiting. I like this venue a lot, working here is easy and the organising committee is very nice. I will be coming back to Oliva in April for the CSIO youth event.”
The Spring MET 2022 runs in four parts from January to April, gathering some of the world’s very best horses and riders under the Spanish sun. For more information, visit metoliva.com.