What a sunday for Julien Epaillard who, after winning the speed class, won the Land Rover Grand Prix with his Queeletta! Last year's winner, Félicie Bertrand took a very nice second place with the bouncing Sultane des Ibis. It was quite a double for the French, supported by a public "carrying an energy that we and our horses feel", said Epaillard.
There were few people at the jump-off for the difficult secondary Grand Prix of the CSI 5*-W in Bordeaux on Sunday. Four couples out of the thirty-four at the start, one Dutch (Maikel van der Vleuten), one Swiss (not Guerdat who made a small mistake today, but Pius Schwizer) and two French (Félicie Bertrand and Julien Épaillard).
Félicie Bertrand thus came very close to the feat, winning two consecutive Land Rover Grand Prix, which takes us back to the time of the mythical couple that formed the German Franke Sloothaak and Joli Coeur in the 90s. So close, but so far, but no regrets: with or without a fault, the time of the little Sultane would not have been enough to beat the great Queeletta associated with Julien Épaillard, the only clear round in this barrage. In any case, Félicie Bertrand would have missed out on nineteen hundredths: “But I’m completely delighted with this second place. My time was slower than Julien’s so I have no regrets. The only regret I have is my little mistake yesterday in the World Cup. But the mare jumps incredibly well and showed that our victory last year was not just due to luck or chance”.
But what a great Sunday for French equestrianism: if Félicie just missed her double, Julien managed his: “It’s a very good start to the year for my team. I’m lucky to have incredible partners around me, which is very motivating and pushes me to do my best. It’s an incredible opportunity to have Queeletta in my team. I didn’t want to take her to the World Cup because I needed to give a bit of a job to Toupie de la Roque who would be Queeletta’s replacement in Las Vegas if something happened to her. By finishing yesterday, I was also qualifying her for this final. But it’s with Queeletta that I intend to defend my chances in the final of this World Cup. Today I didn’t want to make a sudden jump-off, but I had to take a little bit of risk to push Pius into a falt. So it was a winning strategy!
It’s no coincidence that Julien Epaillard is now the French number one with a good chance of making it into the world’s top ten next month! The tricolours will have taken five of the six events of the weekend.