Saut Hermès at the Grand PalaisCredit : Pierre Costabadie - Scoopdyga
Friday 16 March - 11h56 | In Paris, Ian Clayton
Aside from being a major international capital, Paris is also a big destination for elite-level Show Jumpers at the moment. And this weekend, many riders – including an American – are in town to compete in one of the sport's most dazzling venues.
After December’s Longines Masters and ahead of April’s 2018 Longines FEI World Cup Final, the City of Light is hosting the CSI 5* Saut Hermès from March 16-18 inside one of its most recognizable landmarks, the Grand Palais. One American rider is set to take part in the unique event.The glass-roofed Grand Palais, located on the Right Bank between the River Seine and the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, opened a few years after the Eiffel Tower – not far away on the other side of the river – for the Universal Exhibition of 1900. The huge Beaux arts-style building is one of the most recognizable in the French capital, combining a classic stone facade, Art Nouveau ironwork and glass. In fact, the Grand Palais is said to be the largest existing ironwork and glass structure in the world, incorporating more steel than the Eiffel Tower. It also regularly hosts art exhibitions, fashion shows and other high-profile events. While not part of an international circuit like the Longines Global Champions Tour, the Saut Hermès has established itself as a major date on the international Show Jumping calendar. Indeed, for many of the riders present it will be an important stop en route to the World Cup Final which will take place a little to the east in Paris’ 12 arrondissement from April 11-15.For the 9th edition of the competition, there are 50 riders and 96 horses from 16 nations entered at the 5* level, including New Jersey and Florida resident Andy Kocher with Navalo de Poheton and Quarto Mail. Kocher, who recently broke into the top 100 in the sport (ranked 96th in the world), was also at the 2017 Longines Masters in France, and is currently in eighth place in the World Cup eastern league qualifying standings in North America.
Last year's winners Tops-Alexander and CaliforniaCredit : Scoopdyga
Not surprisingly, host nation France will have the biggest number of competitors – 13 riders, including Kevin Staut and Roger Yves Bost, who this week parted ways with his Olympic champion mare Sydney Une Prince – at the 2018 Saut Hermès, which will culminate in Sunday’s €400,000, 1.60m Grand Prix CSI 5* Grand Prix, won last year by Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander on her now 11-year-old mare California. Indeed, the technicality of the Grand Palais courses – including the relatively constrained ground space and the different light and shadows cast through the glass and steel roof – have made this Saut Hermès class one of the most difficult on the international circuit. Speeds of 350m/minute are expected from the elite horse-and-rider combinations negotiating the tight turns.Tops-Alexander is back this year to defend her Grand Prix title, but this time is accompanied by Inca Boy van't Vianahof and Lintea Tequila. Also in central Paris this weekend are the crème de la crème of European riders in the sport, with names like De Luca, Deusser, Smolders, Von Eckermann, Guerdat and Wathelet among the line-up. For the full entries list, see here. Photo below of Grand Palais (Grand Palais, Ph.Guignard, L'air images)
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