Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais in Paris

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Edwina Tops-Alexander takes on the challenging Grand Prix Hermès course. Photo Christophe Bricot

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Pénélope Leprévost takes second in the Grand Prix Hermès, missing first by hundredths of second. Photo Christophe Bricot.

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The artistic performance of Don Quixote. Photo PSV.

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The thrill of winning at the Saut Hermès. Photo Frédéric Chehu

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French rider, Julien Epaillard takes first in the Class 5 Prix GL event. Photo Frédéric Chehu

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Patrice Delaveau wins the Prix Hermès Sellier on Carinjo HDC. Photo Frédéric Chehu

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Edwina Tops-Alexander wins the Grand Prix Hermès. Shown with Hermès CEO Axel Dumas. Photo Christophe Bricot.

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The drama of the Grand Palais. Photo Christophe Bricot.

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Bertram Allen on Molly Malone V takes third in the Grand Prix Hermès. Photo Christophe Bricot.

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Christian Ahlmann (left) and Petronella Andersson win the Class 6 Saut Hermès. Photo Christophe Bricot

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Customized hobbyhorse races for adults and children. By PSV

Show jumping’s elite assembled to compete in the Parisian saddler’s prestigious event.

Equestrian Living magazine has been fortunate to attend what may be the world’s most beautiful equestrian events twice: in 2013 (See George Kamper’s beautiful photo gallery here) and again in 2016.

Now for the eighth consecutive year, the Saut Hermès brought together some of the world’s best riders to compete under the glass roof of the Grand Palais in seven CSI 5* classes. The three days of competition were perfectly timed in the show-jumping calendar, taking place a week before the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Finals to be held in Omaha, Nebraska, March 29- April 2, 2017. Twenty international rising stars under the age of 25 were mentored by the CSI5*-circuit riders as they participated in three original classes from the Talents Hermès competition.

French rider Michel Robert, sporting advisor for the Saut Hermès at the Grand Palais, and German course designer Frank Rothenberger once again contributed to the technical organization of this year’s classes.

Competition Highlights

Only three couples managed to overcome the difficulties of Rothenberger’s tricky Grand Prix Hermès course. Having jumped the first clear round of the class, 22-year-old Irish rider Bertram Allen was first to go in the jump-off on his mare Molly Malone V. With one mistake, he left things to his two adversaries of the afternoon, the French rider Pénélope Leprévost and the Australian rider Edwina Tops-Alexander. To win, they needed to complete a second clear round.

Riding Vagabond de La Pomme, Leprévost repeated the feat, much to the delight of the Parisian public. With a time of 41.44, she increased the pressure on the last rider out. Riding her mare California, Edwina Tops-Alexander bettered the French rider’s time by eight-hundredths of a second and was crowned queen of the Grand-Palais with a time of 41.36 in the jump-off.

“I can’t believe it!” said a delighted Edwina Tops-Alexander. “It was a really, really difficult course. But I knew exactly what to do and how to ride it. I was also lucky enough to start last, in the first leg and in the jump-off. So I knew where the other riders had made some mistakes. My mare was in excellent form. She really did a great job, especially considering she is still a relative novice at this level of com- petition. We have only competed in six Grand Prixs together. I really can’t believe it!”

French rider, Julien Epaillard confirmed his great form riding Quatrin de La Rique LM. He jumped the 10 obstacles with no penalties, earning the maximum points in winning time just ahead of Olympic champion, Kevin Staut, to win the Prix du 24 Faubourg.

Patrice Delaveau and Carinjo*HDC made it two wins, the Prix Hermès Sellier and the Prix de la Ville de Paris, last week. “It’s been a fantastic weekend for Carinjo. He’s competed in three classes and had two great wins; we couldn’t have hoped for more!” said a delighted Patrice Delaveau.

Exciting events

In the past seven years, the elite show-jumping competition has established itself as an unmissable fixture for the world of international CSI 5* show-jumping athletes. This year, the Parisian house built on this sporting success by adding more innovations and attractions.

Le Saut’s premier nighttime competition, the Prix du 24 Faubourg, gave spectators an opportunity to witness 30 world-class professional riders compete under the floodlit glass roof in a new speed class with no jump off. This 5* rated class allowed riders to add points to their international ranking. The course was comprised of 10 increasingly difficult obstacles (from 1.50 to 1.60 m) that were worth progressive scores from 1 to 10 as they were cleared. As a final option, riders could choose a double scoring joker fence for 20 points, but the points were subtracted if they incurred faults. Ultimately, the clock determined the placing for riders with equal scores.

As in earlier editions, the Saut Hermès unveiled another performance conceived by an internationally renowned artist. This year, the dramatist Florient Azoulay collaborated with the equestrian artist Mario Luraschi to create Don Quixote’s Dream: a flight of fancy brimming with humor, poetry, and surrealism.

And, for children and adults alike, there were pony games and races that merely required a sense of humor, a cape, and a willingness to set off over mini-obstacles on a customized hobbyhorse!

See a video of Abdelkebir Ouddar,  a new Hermès partner rider and last year’s Grand Prix Hermès champion