The second week of Spring MET I 2022 concluded with Sunday’s CSI3* 1.50m Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort, where Ireland’s Mark McAuley and Django Ste Hermelle took home the win as the last pair to go in an exciting jump-off.
With Sweden’s Malin Bayard-Johnsson – Olympic team gold medallist, France’s Simon Delestre – former world number one, and Great Britain’s Scott Brash – the only rider ever to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, on the start list for the Grand Prix, it was set to be an afternoon of top sport. In the end, it came down to the smallest of margins as the second, third and fourth placed riders were only 0.11 seconds apart.
Out of the 58 horse-and-rider combinations starting, only eight cleared the first round track designed by Elio Travagliati and joined the deciding jump-off: Fernando Fourcade Lopez (ESP) on Avant Toi (Flyinge Quite Easy 958 x Narcos II), Christian Kukuk (GER) on Nice Van’t Zorgvliet (Emerald x Heartbreaker), Tobias Meyer (GER) on Casablanca-H (Conteur x Landor S), Katrin Eckermann (GER) on Chao Lee (Comme Il Faut x Chacco-Blue) and Lily Attwood (GBR) on Cor-Leon Vd Vlierbeek Z (Calvaro FC Z x Omar) were joined by Olivier Philippaerts (BEL) on Miro (Diamant de Semilly x Kannan), Petronella Andersson (SWE) on Ero Del Pierire (Cero x Landino) and Mark McAuley (IRL) on Django Ste Hermelle (Upercut Kervec x Andiamo).
Taking the lead early on was Christian Kukuk on the 8-year-old Nice Van’t Zorgvliet, who clocked a time of 38.77 seconds. Olivier Philippaerts on Miro and Lily Attwood on Cor-Leon Vd Vlierbeek Z got close, but the 38-second mark was not beaten until the very last pair, Mark McAuley and Django Ste Hermelle walked into the Oliva Nova-ring. Leaving a stride out from fence two to three, the Irish rider crossed the finish line in 37.82 seconds, taking home the win and pushing Kukuk down to second, Philippaerts to third, Attwood to fourth and Meyer to fifth place.
McAuley has shown great form for the past two weeks, winning the 1.40m Silver Tour Grand Prix both last weekend as well as yesterday on the now 18-year-old Miebello (Flyinge Quite Easy 958 x Cardento 933). Today it was time for McAuley’s future star Django Ste Hermelle to step up. “I am over the moon with the horse, he is very talented,” McAuley said about his winning ride. “I have had him for about a year now. When I bought him, I thought this is what he is going to be and today he proved that to me, so I am really happy.”
“In the jump-off, there were a couple of lines where you could do less strides, but I did not see anyone do that – so I was going into the unknown,” McAuley said about his strategy. “But my horse has a huge stride and he loves to run and jump, so I thought I’d give it a go. Also, out of the eight in the jump-off, six were clear before me, so I had nothing to lose. I thought to give it a shot, and it worked out.”
“The conditions here at the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour are so nice, it is really enjoyable to be here and I think that helps us to perform well,” McAuley said about the venue in Oliva Nova. “The venue here is second to none. Thanks to the organisers for getting us this great place for producing our horses and competing at a high level at the same time.”
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.