Photo FEi/Richard Juilliart

Pieter Devos has secured his place in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping 2018 Final with a win in the Western European League in Bordeaux.

‘Very happy’

With just two qualifiers left Pieter knew he was running out of time to gain those all important points. He couldn’t have picked a better partner in Espoir – whose name means ‘hope’ in French.

“I came here in the hope of qualifying, this was one of the last chances and even though I had a good indoor season I needed those extra points,” said the Belgian rider. “Of course the win is great and I’m excited to go to the Final, it will be my first and I’m really looking forward to the experience. But to be honest the very best thing is the feeling Espoir gave me today.

“He had a break and did his first World Cup in Leipzig when we had one down, and tonight he felt like he is right back in great shape and that makes me very, very happy.”

Unbeatable standard

Espoir was certainly on top form and really rose to the occasion as Pieter galloped into the ring with fierce determination. The pair set an unbeatable standard at the halfway-stage of the 10-horse jump-off with a time of 36.53sec.

Three-time champion Marcus Ehning was the penultimate rider, and looked set to put up a big challenge with Cornado NRW. However, Pieter’s fast time couldn’t beaten and the German rider had to settle for second place on 38.09sec. Spain’s Manuel Fernandez Saro was third with Cannavaro on 38.40sec.

‘Took a risk’

“Before I went in I thought I’d be happy to finish in the top five, but in the end I took a risk between the first two fences and that went well, so of course I got more ambitious and I just wanted to win,” said Pieter. “The crowd were great, they were shouting at me all the way to the last, so I took the risk there as well.”

Marcus Ehning has now moved up to third place on the Western European League table, which continues to be dominated by France’s Kevin Staut. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann lies second and today’s victory sees Pieter rise up to seventh position. The top 18 qualify for the Final and the pressure will reach boiling point when the last qualifier gets underway in Gothenburg, Sweden on 25 February.

You can watch FEI World Cup Jumping: Bordeaux online when it premieres on 7 February at 8pm on Horse & Country TV and Amazon VideoIt’s also available to watch on Sky 253.