French speed-master Julien Epaillard steered his new ride, the 11-year-old gelding Hoover, to victory in this afternoon’s Banca Passadore 1.50m Speed class on the opening day of Jumping Verona 2023.
Starting 29th in the 50-strong field, the man who claimed individual bronze at this summer’s FEI European Championships in Milan (ITA) was chasing the target-time of 63.10 seconds posted by America’s Jessica Springsteen and her 10-year-old mare Naomi van het Keizershof. And the 46-year-old Frenchman shaved a full 2.5 seconds off that to go out in front and stay there, Springsteen holding on to runner-up spot ahead of Sweden’s Petronella Andersson and Odina van Klapscheut in third while Belgium’s Nicola Philippaerts slotted into fourth with Klaartje Z.
Epaillard has not been a frequent visitor to Jumping Verona in recent years, in fact this may only be his second time to attend the hugely popular Italian fixture. On his last visit to Verona in 2009 he won a Speed class with Commissario.
«I don’t know why I have not been here more often, maybe because every year in my programme it’s just after Lyon and normally i don’t have enough horses to come. I really like it here, there’s a super atmosphere and everything is super for the horses and the riders!», he said.
He’s only been riding Hoover since April of this year. The horse was previously campaigned by compatriot Aymeric de Ponnat.
Epaillard has been enjoying a fabulous run of form and is currently seventh in the world rankings. He finished second in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2023/2024 qualifier at Lyon last Sunday with Dubai du Cedre who also won the Grand Prix at the French fixture. This week he has brought his other top ride, the 10-year-old gelding Donatello d’Auge, to battle for more World Cup points at the Italian fixture.
«Donatello jumped Saturday in Lyon in the big class where he had one down in the jump-off. He did a small class today and I hope on Sunday he will be good!», the French star said.