To win the World Cup in Bordeaux is always a special moment in a rider’s career as it adds his name to a prestigious list comprising greatest sportsmen of the discipline since 45 years. Today, it is an equally prestigious rider and world number one Swiss Steve Guerdat who adds his name to this hall of fame. A beautiful victory after a competition so exciting it almost deserves an Oscar for best scenario!
This penultimate European leg posed several challenges: ten riders could still potentially earn enough points to enter the top 18 riders qualified for the Las Vegas final (some have come close), for some French riders, the challenge was to show the national coach their level and their competitiveness at the start of this Olympic year (what Roger-Yves Bost will have demonstrated for the umpteenth time on Saturday evening coming into fifth place) and for others, it was just a question of honor: that of winning a renown and historic Grand Prix!
Despite a dazzling track record, world number 1, triple-winner of the World Cup, Olympic Champion, Steve Guerdat was part of the latter group, of those who had not yet won this World Cup Grand Prix in Bordeaux. He has now done it, and in a beautiful manner with Victorio de Frotards, a horse born in the Bordeaux region. The pair won the jump-off by 77 hundredth of seconds ahead of last year’s winner German Daniel Deusser with Jasmien v. Bisschop, the mare he is hoping to take to Las Vegas. Belgium’s Niels Bruynseels finishes third with Illusionata van’t Meulenhof, a very particular mare he can’t jump before the course: “We lunge her beforehand and then just right before going into the ring, I hop onto her and off we go!”
Steve Guerdat is therefore one of the greatest champions of all time, who won almost everything on this earth, and yet this victory in Bordeaux was very important to him: "Bordeaux has always been a competition that fascinated me, that I have always loved. The French and Bordeaux public is always fantastic. It has something mythical for me; I’ve watched the video of Rodrigo’s (Pessoa)’s victory with Baloubet over and over again. I always dreamed of winning this World Cup Grand Prix, but for ten-twelve years, I have never been lucky here and I always left Bordeaux disappointed on Sunday evening." Steve is the first fan of his sport whose values he fervently defends, he loves these halls with this enthusiastic audience and he adores his horses, which he venerates and respects with passion. Victorio is a special horse (but all horses are special) and after some complicated beginnings, the gelding won the first three 5* Grand Prix in which he started in: "When we bought the horse with two friends, at first we had doubts. I really wanted it to work between us but I couldn't find the intelligence and the fighting spirit he had with his previous rider. There was a lot of disappointment at the start but now he is really giving everything, there was a real click at the start of the year which took my weight off. I was right to buy him but it took a lot of patience to get there. Now he is fighting for me and we have a lot of fun together.” When Steve rides or talks about his horses, it is always with a big smile. Tonight, the Swiss was over the moon.