It may have taken him a minute, but France’s Kevin Staut was back to his winning ways at the Stuttgart German Masters on Sunday, November 19.
The 43-year-old rider took the fifth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Western European League more than a decade after his last victory at the event.
“Can you believe it’s 11 years since I won here last?” Staut said. “You can feel the atmosphere in that arena—it’s totally crazy! The crowd [is] really, really nice with everyone, and of course, they are hoping for a German victory, but they also are all horsemen and horsewomen, and what they want is to see great sport!”
Not a bad turnaround for Staut, who made it into Stuggart on a Wild Card entry and has only been partnered with the 10-year-old Zangersheide gelding, Beau de Laubry Z, since October of 2022.
“It’s difficult at the moment, I’m trying to rebuild the horses I can have, and I can ride, it’s taken a long time. But for sure, when you have this kind of victory, it gives an extra boost for everyone.”
On Sunday during the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ of Stuttgart, the pair topped the eight-horse jump-off on a time of 41.78 seconds, narrowly beating out Great Britain’s Harry Charles and Casquo Blue on 41.92. Francois Xavier Boudant, also of France, was third with Brazyl du Mezel (42.08).
From the start of the class, course designer Louis Konickx (NED) played to the crowds, turning up the temperature in Round 1 with five fences maxed at 1.60m height, and a tight time allowed.
“It was difficult, just eight clears and the [69-second] time-allowed was tight, so it motivated the riders to run a little bit against the clock already in the first round,” explained Staut.
In the jump-off, Staut said his handy turn back to the final fence gave him the edge over his competition.
“I had a good left turn at the wall [Fence 3] and then [French chef d’equipe Henk Nooren] told me I had to turn inside, if possible, to the [last] vertical,” he explained. “[I had to follow that] trajectory because the other horses are really fast, and mine would not be the fastest—but he was so great today!”
Staut and Beau de Laubry have competed just 11 rounds together at 1.60m, and though they are clear at 36% at this height, they finish in the top-10 55% of the time (Jumpr App). What’s more, Beau de Laubry has made big strides—literally—after just a year on Staut’s string, improving his overall clear round percentage across all heights from 37.5% in 2022 to a solid 51% in 2023.
Not bad for the prospective sale horse, who Staut obtained through Nooren with an eye toward the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“[Nooren] is at every practice I am doing [with Beau de Laubry] to try to help me,” Staut said, noting that the gelding hadn’t jumped much above 1.40m/1.45m before last fall. “[He] is really sensitive and a bit stiff, but we are working a lot [to improve him].
“This is a horse with such a big, big heart, and he is such a clever one. I’m really lucky the owners decided to keep him until the end of next year, [and] they secured him for me to ride.”
Could a Longines FEI World Cup Finals run be in Staut’s future? Possibly, alluded the French rider, who currently sits fifth on the Western European League leaderboard. His best result to date of the 11 Finals he’s competed was also a decade ago when he took third with Silvana HDC in Gothenburg in 2013. Now his hopes are pegged on Beau de Laubry Z, the former underdog horse.
“Sometimes the stories come from nowhere,” Staut reflected. “This horse was really not on target to be a superstar, but he’s trying to do his best, and now he is [here].”