Europe Wins in Paris As Riders Masters Cup Is Huge Success

Team Europe with the trophy
Credit : Scoopdyga

Saturday 02 December - 23h01 | Lulu Kyriacou

Europe Wins in Paris As Riders Masters Cup Is Huge Success

The first ever running of the new Riders Masters Cup Saturday at the Longines Masters of Paris will go down in the record books as a win for Team Europe under the tutelage of Philippe Guerdat, but it was also a stunning success for a new type of competition, which kept watchers entertained until the very last rider.

 - Europe Wins in Paris As Riders Masters Cup Is Huge Success

Ten of the world's very best
Credit : Sccopdyga

Ridden over two rounds, the riders were drawn in pairs and simply had to go faster than their opponent to win that round. The first round matches were worth one point each and the second round two points, so although the first round ended with a slight advantage for Team Europe of one point, anything could happen in the second set of duels.

Team USA led off Round Two. Devin Ryan will not be particularly  familiar to the European audience, but he won the American Gold Cup earlier in the year and is a fierce competitor, which he proved in the second round by jumping clear on Cooper. France's Kevin Staut knew he could not hang about even riding super-fast Ayade de Septon, and he took a risk to the last but the pair was miles off it, at least half a stride and Pegasus could not have cleared it from there!

This loss meant that Europe lost their first round advantage as the second round was worth two points for a win.  Mikail Van der Vleuten  had a fence down in his match with Chloe Reid but so did she, although Van der Vleuten said it was down to luck as much as judgement that he ended up the fastest of the two.

This gave Europe a one point advantage as Laura Kraut came in for the USA. Kraut had a bit of trouble managing a fiesty Viper and had one down and then missed an inside turn giving Gregory Wathelet a big chance to take the lead back for the home side.  He had the last down on Nevada but it did not matter as his smooth round was already five seconds up on Kraut at the time.

That meant the U.S. needed to win the next round or it would all be over. Jos Verlooy was against Reid Kessler and he opened the door for the US by having the Land Rover oxer down three from home, finishing in 66 seconds. Kessler and KS Stakki kept calm and kept the US in it by jumping clear in 65 seconds, which left the result all down to the last duelling pair, Lauren Hough and Lorenzo de Luca.

Hough rode first on Waterford, having made the risky choice to change horses after the first round. It did not pay off when she had the first part of the Longines double down and then Waterford stopped dead two fences later. De Luca was not going to let a chance like that go begging and the Italian was efficiently clear, the only rider to jump clean in both rounds and give Europe the win by 9-6 points. 

Team manager Philippe Guerdat has already delivered a team Olympic Gold to France  and after this win in Paris could probably run for President! "It was a great concept," he said, "and my riders were great although it was not easy and it was different coaching other riders.  We had to sweat a little bit, but I told [US coach] Robert Ridland we would win here, so it is good that we did."

Gregory Wathelet: "Very interesting for us as first time Philippe has coached most of us and chosen a team from these riders but I am sure it will be very different in New York."

Robert Ridland, USA Team Manager: "It didn't go our way tonight but it went all the way to the last contest, a great competition.  It was a new format we didnt know what to expect but I am very proud of my team."

Reid Kessler: "Looking forward to New York, we didn't get all the luck here but it was great sport and a good concept."

Further reading...