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Delestre Wraps Up Rome with Turbo-Charged Win

Release date: 24/09/2017

Photo: LGCT / Stefano Grasso

Simon Delestre (FRA) and Chesall Zimequest powered to a turbo-charged win at the final day of the Longines Global Champions Tour of Rome, beating a world-class field to finish a four-day spectacle of show jumping.

Delestre and Chesall proved there’s no place like Rome, after their third CSI5* win in the three years the event has been held in Italy’s capital - the duo clearly at home in the spectacular setting. Second went to Denis Lynch (IRL) with RMF Bella Baloubet, with the newly-formed partnership of Daniel Deusser (GER) and the eye-catching gelding Cornet in third.

A delighted Simon said: "Chesall did a fantastic job today. It’s the third time he came here to Rome - every year he’s won a big class here, so it’s fantastic to have a horse like him. I’m very proud today. Rome is a fantastic city, we’ve been lucky with the weather this year and it’s great to be here - so to win like this is something special.”

Fans filled every seat on the final day of competition, their final chance this weekend to witness the world’s best perform in the magnificent Stadio dei Marmi arena. Blue skies and wall-to-wall sunshine would provide the perfect backdrop to the €92,000 class, as spectators and VIPs watched the action unfold.

Course designer Uliano Vezzani pieced together a flowing test. The trickiest part seemed to be the double of liverpools, decorated with grapes and featuring gappy verticals. The utmost control was needed to manage the distance, with the most delicate of touches causing the poles to fall. 

The first to go clear was Gerco Schröder (NED) with Glock's Dobelensky, the experienced Dutch rider setting the task for the field to follow. And they soon came thick and fast. Once again the ever-consistent machine that is Marcus Ehning (GER) piloted Funky Fred clear, the stunning chestnut stallion’s coat glinting in the sunlight as they cleared the fences. Young talent Kevin Jochems (NED) soon impressed again by following suit with Alcazar Sitte, quickly followed by the likes of John Whitaker (GBR) with Argento, Denis Lynch (IRL) with RMF Bella Baloubet and Lauren Hough (USA) with Quantas 15.

Paolo Paini (ITA) with Ottava Meraviglia di Ca' San G took out the final fence, much to the disappointment of the local fans. There was further dismay as home hero Lorenzo de Luca (ITA) dramatically clattered into the wing of the lightpost oxer with Limestone Grey, taking out the fence and running them out of contention, and Alberto Zorzi (ITA) elected to retire after an unusual 12 faults on Contanga 3.

Scott Brash (GBR) flew around the arena with the impressive Ursula XII, shooting straight to the top of the leaderboard with the fastest time so far and sealing his place in the jump-off. Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT) with Argelith Squid, Daniel Deusser (GER) with Cornet, David Will (GER) with Monodie H, Ludger Beerbaum (GER) with Chacon, Simon Delestre (FRA) with Chesall Zimequest, Carlos Lopez (COL) with Ulhane de Conde, Geir Gulliksen (NOR) with Edesa S Banjan and young rider Lillie Keenan (USA) with Super Sox.

So it would be a 15-rider jump-off, with the €92,000 a hotly contested prize. Vezzani’s revised course was a pedal-to-the-metal race to the finish, mixing signature roll-backs to delicate verticals and a flat out gallop to the last. With 15 world class riders to come, every millisecond would count as the riders strategised their turns, pace and strides.

Drama unfolded as Gerco Schröder (NED) with Glock's Dobelensky threw in a sudden refusal at penultimate fence. Napping back to the in-gate, the pair ruled themselves out of contention for a place in the top three.

First to throw down the gauntlet once again was Ehning, the much loved rider starting proceedings with a tip of his hat. Putting in a tidy round with Funky Fred, the pair stopped the clock at 36.57s, with the door ajar for the field to come.

The pressure was on, and it was too much for many of the field who followed. Bassem Hassan Mohammed (QAT), David Will (GER), Ludger Beerbaum (GER), and Scott Brash (GBR) all picked up faults after brave tries, pushing hard to better the time to beat.

Denis Lynch (IRL) and RMF Bella Baloubet cruised into the lead after a blisteringly quick round saw them up on Ehning’s time by a couple of seconds. The new time to beat was 34.49s with the pressure cranked up another notch for the field to come.

Kevin Jochems (NED) put in a superb round with Alcazar Sitte, the Dutch talent managing his chestnut horse beautifully to bring home a double clear in 38.62s. Daniel Deusser (GER) and the eye-catching Cornet looked to be hot on the heels of Lynch, with a flier to the penultimate fence to stop the clock in 34.76s on the finish.

Further drama unfolded as Lauren Hough (USA) came off Quantas 15 after the 10 year old bay gelding screeched to a stop after a tight turn to the double. Both horse and rider were instantly up on their feet after sliding through the fence, both unharmed but meaning they would be out of the running.

A valiant effort from John Whitaker (GBR) and Argento had the crowd up on their feet as the popular rider galloped to stop the clock in 34.96s. Similarly Carlos Lopez (COL) with Ulhane de Conde and Geir Gulliksen (NOR) with Edesa S Banjan jumped clear, but couldn’t better their time.

Simon Delestre (FRA) and Chesall Zimequest entered the ring - the pair securing a win in Rome previously. The Hermes Ambassador looked to be on a level-pegging with Lynch until they powered to the finish, flying to the last to stop the clock just ahead in 33.80s. There was ecstatic reaction in the Hermes Riders’ Lounge, placed on the edge of the arena, as the flying Frenchman took over the lead.

Last to go Lillie Keenan (USA) had all the pressure on her young shoulders, but couldn’t match the Frenchman’s time with Super Sox, crossing the line in 35.47s to finish in fifth.

So the final win went to Delestre, who wraps up a wonderful weekend of top sport and entertainment in Italy’s capital. The Tour now looks to Doha, Qatar, and the final event of the 15-leg Championship. While Smolders has taken the overall title, the battle for the final podium continues, while the Global Champions League will see a thrilling two-horse race to the finish.

To see the full results from today, please click here.