All posts by Associate Editor

Paralympian Sophie Wells and Judge Stephen Clarke to Join ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ at Olympia

Following the announcement of ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ which takes place at Olympia, The London International Horse Show on Monday 16 December, Paralympic champion Sophie Wells MBE and renowned dressage judge Stephen Clarke are the latest stars to be unveiled to take part.

Sophie and Stephen will join other celebrated dressage personalities, including Carl Hester, Gareth Hughes, and Richard Davison as they unwrap the secrets of the discipline of dressage. The brand-new ninety-minute session will take place at 4pm on the opening day of the Show and provide a unique insight into the sport, from training and producing dressage horses to competing on the world stage.

Sophie Wells MBE, a double Paralympic gold medalist as well as multiple World and European champion, will be taking to the saddle to demonstrate various dressage elements, from the basic movements to the more complex components of championship tests. Sophie will be joined in the arena by Stephen Clarke, widely regarded as one of the best international dressage judges on the circuit, as he talks the audience through what he is looking for from horse and rider during a test and the main considerations when scoring each of the movements.

Stephen’s experience in this field is second-to-none, with previous roles including President of the Ground Jury at the London 2012 Olympic Games and FEI Dressage Judge General, which involves creating and coordinating discussion among international judges to ensure equality and uniformity across the sport.

This unique insight will complement previously announced components of ‘Dressage Unwrapped’ which include appearances by Performance Manager to Britain’s Senior Eventing Team, Richard Waygood, and one of Britain’s best loved eventers, Olympic, World, and European medalist Pippa Funnell.

Olympia Show Director, Simon-Brooks Ward, said: “We’re delighted that Sophie and Stephen will be joining the high-profile team set to be part of Dressage Unwrapped. Their experience and talent are world-renowned, and their participation will significantly enhance the programme, providing an unprecedented insight into competitive dressage.”

Dressage Unwrapped is part of the evening performance at Olympia, The London International Horse Show on Monday 16 December, which also features the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Grand Prix, as well as numerous international display acts, including The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry and spellbinding horseman Jean-François Pignon.

To purchase tickets for Olympia, please visit www.olympiahorseshow.com or telephone the box office on 0871 230 5580.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com / +44 (0)203 176 0355

Harper JR Named ‘Sport Horse of the Week’ at IFHSA World & Grand National Championships

Photo Courtesy of IFSHA and Avalon Photography.

Springfield, Ohio (November 4, 2019) –Nearly 300 classes were presented over five days in October when the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) 2019 World and Grand National Championships came to the Champions Center in Springfield, Ohio, but it didn’t take long for N2 Saddlery to find its Sport Horse the Week: Part-Bred Friesian English Pleasure World Champion, Harper JR, owned by Lauren Riehle of Kernersville, NC, and competed by amateur rider Anaiah Powers, who trains under one of the top handlers ever to enter a Dressage at Devon ring, Bruce Griffin, of Griffin Sport Horses in Virginia.

Griffin, whose professional training career with Friesians like Harper JR began under the tutelage of great horsemen like Jeff Wonnell and Barbara Cross, says, “It’s a dream come true to be blessed with such talented and versatile horses.” The 2019 World Champion and N2 Saddlery Sporthorse Award winner had previously earned overall Part Bred High Point and overall High Point in Hand Horse titles at the 2016 IFSHA World Championships.

But the real story of this gentle giant, says Riehle, just keeps growing. “I lucked into my dream horse. I met him the day he was born,” she says of her nine-year-old, 17.3-hand (“he just keeps growing!”) Friesian/Percheron/Thoroughbred cross.  “You may not see the Thoroughbred but he’s got a whole lot of go. He’s also a kind, fun guy and he’s great with Anaiah.”

When Riehle brought the young Friesian to Griffin Sport Horses, she told its trainer, “I just want a nice trail horse. Let’s take our time.” Then three months later Bruce called her back and told her, ‘I don’t know what you think you got, but you’ve got yourself a show horse here.’”

The N2 Saddlery Award recognition couldn’t have come at a better time. “Saddles have always been a challenge for him. So thank you, N2, for your sponsorship and this lovely award.” Because, as Riehle lovingly notes, finding anything to fit her great big World Champion can be a challenge, “Do you know how hard it is just to find a 90” blanket? Ninety inches – I’m not kidding!”

Contact: Sue Newell
www.n2saddlery.com
sue@n2saddlery.com

Ava Stearns Wins ASPCA Maclay National Championship at National Horse Show

Ava Stearns on Acer K.

Lexington, Ky. – Nov. 3, 2019 – On the final day of its 136th anniversary, the National Horse Show welcomed junior equitation riders to the Alltech Arena for the ASPCA Maclay National Championship, presented by Chansonette Farm, the last of the four major equitation finals held each fall season. The National Horse Show has come to be known as one of America’s premier indoor equestrian events thanks to its rich history and classical traditions, one of which is the prestigious championship that is regarded as one of the most coveted equitation distinctions in the sport. Since 1933, an elite junior rider’s name has been etched into history as the annual champion, and this year the deserving victor was 18-year-old Ava Stearns, who topped the scorecard during her final junior year ahead of 175 athletes to capture the tricolor honors as the 2019 ASPCA Maclay National Champion and winner of the esteemed ASPCA Horsemanship Trophy.

Throughout the majority of the day, entries contested designer Bobby Murphy’s course one-by-one in attempts to showcase their abilities over the expertly created 14-effort pattern. The efficient course featured a diverse collection of fence types ranging from sturdy to airy, with the majority of the jumps not implementing standards, and was a nod to popular obstacles of the past as Murphy incorporated a series of fences that were reminiscent of those seen in previous generations. Exhibitors were offered fair opportunities to shine or fall short, with a forward 5-stride line, a collected 6-stride line, two in-and-outs, and an obstacle jumped twice both directions all integrated into the course.

Faced with the task of whittling down the initial start list of 176 pairs to only the top 25 performers, judges Jimmy Torano and Tamara Provost ranked the collection of participants who had earned a callback into the next rounds of competition. As the 92nd to ride in the original order-of-go, Stearns, riding Acer K, proved to answer Murphy’s questions the best as they exemplified the pinnacle of equitation, completing a textbook trip to jump to the head of the standby list following the first phase of competition. Headed into the under saddle and second over fences portions of riding, Stearns, Isabelle Song, Breanna Bunevacz, Emma Fletcher, Alexa Aureliano, Juliette Joseph, Catalina Peralta, Jordan Toering, and Savannah Hemby were pegged as the frontrunners, all riding head-to-head in the same flat section.

During the under saddle phase, riders’ balance and strength, as well as their horses’ adjustability, were put to the test through a series of directives from the judges, which included lengthening of stride, flying changes, and changes of gait, most of which was done without stirrups. Thanks to impeccable showings, both Bunevacz and Fletcher managed to usurp the early leader to claim the first and second positions, respectively, ahead of the final over fences phase. Hemby, Casas, Pielet, and Griffiths also performed well and leapfrogged up the ranks to inch that much closer to the top spot.

Returning in reverse order of the standings for their last chance to display their skills, all of the top 25 contenders navigated the Alltech Arena once more in an effort to either win the competition or force a work-off. With the points too close to make a championship decision yet following the second jumping phase, the judges requested a final test for six riders, which included highest-placed Stearns, Fletcher, Casas, Hannah Hoch, Sophie Gochman, and Elli Yeager. Originally outside of the top six, Hoch, Gochman, and Yeager were each able to maneuver their way up the leaderboard to keep them in contention.

For their final ride-off, competitors were asked to canter directly to fence one, counter-canter fence 11, canter fences 12a and 12b, canter to fence 13 in six strides, halt, canter fence eight, hand gallop fence five, and exit at the walk. The first five partnerships each turned in solid performances with no major errors, keeping the competition tight as the final entry walked through the arch for the last over fences trip of more than 200 throughout the day. As the ultimate challenger to ride, and with the lead to lose, Stearns jockeyed Acer K to an exemplary and seemingly effortless round, concluding the day’s activities on a high note with her precision, correct form, and aid effectiveness. After waiting through the nerve-wracking announcement of results, Stearns was rewarded for her superior efforts with Acer K as the 2019 ASPCA Maclay National Champion.

As the 2019 victor, Stearns’ name now sits amongst some of the sport’s greatest athletes and icons, including past winners such as Bill Steinkraus, Frank Chapot, Lillie Keenan, Victoria Colvin, and 2018 winner Sam Walker. Even more impressive is the fact that the junior rider claimed the championship aboard 8-year-old Acer K, North Run’s gelding who has just completed his first indoor season competing in the equitation finals. Though their partnership is relatively new, Stearns and Acer K have already achieved an incredible amount of success together, earning the reserve champion honors in both the 2019 Platinum Performance/USEF Show Jumping Talent Search Finals – East as well as 2019 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Equitation Final, in addition to topping the inaugural Dudley B. Smith Equitation Championship at the Great Lakes Equestrian Festival during the summer. As the trainers of the winning rider, Missy Clark and John Brennan of North Run were also awarded a one-year lease of an Audi, courtesy of Audi of Lexington.

Hot off third place honors in Saturday’s Hollow Brook Wealth Management $25,000 Show Jumping Hall of Fame Amateur-Owner/Junior Jumper Grand Prix CSI4*, 18-year-old Casas continued her successful weekend with the reserve champion honors. The 2018 Washington International Horse Show (WIHS) Equitation Final winner, 17-year-old Yeager added to her equitation reputation by earning the overall third place status. The 2019 Dover Saddlery/USEF Hunter Seat Medal Final winner just weeks ago, Fletcher clinched fourth place, while Gochman earned fifth place and Hoch rounded out the top six.

Sunday’s competition concluded the 2019 National Horse Show, but the equestrian event will return in 2020 to once again host the ASPCA Maclay National Championship.

To learn more about the National Horse Show, click here.

The Legendary Boyd Exell Comes Flying Through

Image copyright PSV.

The 2019/2020 season of the FEI Driving World Cup has begun. The very best drivers got together at Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for this first four-horse indoor driving meeting. At the end of a drive-off reserved for the three best teams from the first round, Boyd Exell – the world number one and a true legend in the discipline – won the event with a masterful performance. The Australian combined speed and precision in this spectacular class. He won the event in a time of 142”70, with second place going to the young and promising Dutchman Bram Chardon (26) – who won the FEI World Cup Driving Final last year – in a time of 148”99. Third place went to the Hungarian József Dobrovitz in 173”14.

Leading their four horses with their guiding reins and the sound of their voices, the drivers demonstrated the full potential of their horses and the true teamwork achieved with their grooms. “We had a great day of sport. I competed for a long time against Ijsbrand Chardon. Today, it is his son Bram who has taken over. He is a great competitor and improving each year. It’s great for our discipline: it pushes everyone to get better and it will take elite driving to a new level,” said Boyd Exell, four-time world champion and seven-time FEI World Cup Final winner. The Boyd Exell/Bram Chardon duel has truly started. “This time it was Boyd’s turn to win. Next time, it’ll be mine!” said the young Dutchman, with a smile.

Benjamin Aillaud represented France at the event, with four new horses. “I have gone back to my first love by assembling a new team of Lipizzan horses. The objective is to really make a mark in indoor driving with these horses,” said the Frenchman, who was seventh in the event.

Part of the Longines Equita Lyon, Concours Hippique International for the second year in a row, four-horse indoor driving was once again a great success on the last day of the show. “We are very proud to host this discipline in Lyon. The audience is really starting to enjoy the discipline. I am really pleased that the best drivers in the world come to compete here;” said Sylvie Robert, President of GL events Equestrian Sport, before adding: “This year’s Equita Lyon attracted a record number of visitors. All the people involved contributed to making this year’s show a success.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Martin Fuchs and Clooney: What Else?

Image copyright PSV.

It was certainly no easy task to overcome the difficulties of the course designed by Gregory Bodo for this Grand Prix Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Lyon 2019. In particular, the two combinations – the triple at number 7 and the double vertical at number 9 – gave the 40 riders who had qualified for this class a hard time. Several top riders got caught out, such as Simon Delestre and Pénélope Leprevost, who made mistakes on the triple with Hermes Ryan and Vancouver from Lanlore, and the German rider Daniel Deusser, who had a 4-point penalty on the double.

In fact, just thirteen riders found the solution on the first round. The American Jessica Springsteen was the first to do a double clear round and set the bar high with a fast time of 41.85 (second overall). Everyone tried to go faster by taking risks in this high-speed jump-off, but only one rider managed to finish in front of the American, and not just anyone! Riding his faithful Clooney 51, the young Swiss rider Martin Fuchs made his mark in style with a time of 41”27. The world number two – who was silver medallist at the last World Championships, and became European champion this summer in Rotterdam -retained the title he won in the arena in Lyon in 2018. “This is such a great win. Clooney was in great form today. It was amazing. I was lucky going into the double verticals in the first round, when he touched the bars slightly, but then he was very obedient for the rest of the course. I was also lucky to be among the last riders to take to the arena in the jump-off. I had the chance to look at Jessica’s horse, which has the same kind of stride as Clooney, and I wanted to try and jump the course like her. On the last jump, I just tried to remove one stride and that’s how I won,” said Martin Fuchs. Now at the top of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup ranking for Western Europe, the Swiss rider intends to continue on the circuit, but with other horses: “Clooney’s not going to do anymore World Cup stages. I just wanted to do one stage with him to make it to the finals. Normally, I would not have used him for this competition, because there are the Olympic Games next year. But I wanted the do the best stage with Clooney and so I chose Lyon. It was the right decision. I will do the stages in Stuttgart, Madrid, and London with other horses and then see who I take to the final.”

At the end of the class, the American Jessica Springsteen – who was second – said she was delighted with her horse, which she has been riding for almost a year and a half. “It took me almost six months to find my feet with her. She’s a very obedient horse. She was already great on Friday in the qualifying Grand Prix for the World Cup stage, so I am very happy with her. Being based in Europe and competing with the best in the world has really helped me to improve. But I must admit that the good results I’m having on the circuit are also due to the great complicity I have built with my horse. So, we’re doing just fine together.”

Third place went to the Belgian rider Peter Devos, who rode a quick jump-off, finishing within the same second in 41”95. “I was really happy with my horse today. She had a few weeks off and came back in good form. I looked at what Martin did and I know he’s always very fast. Same thing with Jessica. I had to be careful because my horse is not so easy to ride. When I go a little too fast, she can be a little hard to handle. So, I had to keep her calm and I did a good round with the right distances everywhere. There is just the line between the first two obstacles where I thought of removing a stride, but finally I decided against it because no one had tested that option.”

The last rider to set off in the jump-off was the Frenchman Julien Épaillard on Queeletta, and he put in a great performance. With a double clear round, the best-ranked French rider in the class took fifth place in this World Cup stage with a horse that he has only been riding since the beginning of the summer. “This is my first 5* Grand Prix with Queeletta so I’m really pleased; she jumped very well. I had a good weekend. I would have liked to be faster in the jump-off, but the others were better today and… I’ll be back,” he joked. Having already won the first round of the CSI 5* this weekend, this couple is certainly one to keep an eye on.

During the press conference, Grégory Bodo (the course designer) spoke about the layout of this Grand Prix for the 2019 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup stage in Lyon: “I watched the qualifying class at the Grand Prix on Friday evening, and I understood the approach I needed to adopt for today, despite the fairly large number of clear rounds. I wanted to make a very smooth course. It was quite long, but really with a horse’s mindset. Riders needed to gallop from beginning to end in the class. It should be noted that Lyon is one of the largest indoor arenas in the world, and I don’t think the horses were out of their comfort zone. Just as we wanted, the mistakes came from all over the course. I think there was a good first round and a good jump-off.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Fuchs and Clooney Take Lyon by Storm Again

Martin Fuchs with Clooney. (FEI/Eric Knoll)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs and his brilliant gelding Clooney showed exactly why they are the superstars of the sport right now when scorching to victory in the third leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League at Lyon in France.

The 27-year-old rider, who is reigning European champion and No. 2 on the current Longines world rankings, was back on familiar territory, having also won this leg 12 months ago with his same grey wonder-horse. And it was just another magic Sunday for the Swiss star and his equine flying machine when they romped to success once more in the 13-horse jump-off, rocketing to the top of the WEL League leaderboard.

They were chasing the target-time set by America’s Jessica Springsteen and RMF Zecilie who zoomed around the jump-off track in 41.85 seconds, the lovely 12-year-old mare almost clearing the wings of the oxer three from home as she put on an exhibition of enthusiastic athleticism. But, fifth-last to go, somehow Fuchs and Clooney put the result almost beyond doubt when stopping the timers just over half a second sooner.

“I was lucky to start at the end of the jump-off because I could watch Jessica as I know her horse has about the same stride as Clooney. So I planned to do like her, except I made one less stride to the last fence which made me win today!” — Martin Fuchs (SUI)

French course designer, Gregory Bodo, described the 14-fence first-round course as “quite long but horse-friendly,” and it was the triple combination at seven and the double at fence nine that claimed most victims along with the time-allowed of 84 seconds. However, 13 found the key, and 27-year-old Springsteen really put it up to the rest of them with her breathtaking ride when third to go against the clock.

No-one had really challenged her until Fuchs set off with all guns blazing, but once the Swiss rider put 41.27 seconds on the board there were still four more to follow, and none of them were shrinking violets. However, his compatriot and World No. 1 Steve Guerdat (Venard de Cerisy) clipped the penultimate vertical, and despite being double-clear the final three – Italy’s Emanuele Gaudiano (Chalou), Belgium’s Pieter Devos (Claire Z), and Frenchman Julien Epaillard (Queeletta) – didn’t jostle the leading pair out of place, Devos taking third when breaking the beam in 41.95.

Talking about her mare RMF Zecilie, runner-up Springsteen described her as “an amazing horse – it took me about six months to get to know her but now we are all set up and she is great!”

Fuchs meanwhile has the world at his feet, and is already looking forward to next year and what it will bring. “It’s a big victory today. Clooney was in great shape and he jumped wonderfully,” he said, adding that he’s not specifically targeting any more Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ qualifiers with his super-champ.

“I just wanted to do one (qualifier) with him so I can take him to the Final if I need to, but because of the Olympic Games next year the plan is not to take him to Las Vegas. I will go to Verona, Stuttgart, and London with other horses to try to qualify, and if I do then I will decide which horse I will bring,” the Swiss rider explained.

With or without Clooney, he looks a very good bet to make the cut to the Longines 2020 Final which will take place in Las Vegas, USA from 15 to 19 April, especially since he already has more than half the points required at this early stage of the 14-leg Western European League which moves on to Verona, Italy next weekend.

FULL RESULTS

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Scott Brash Makes It Two in a Row

Image copyright PSV.

A full house for the Equita Masters presented by Hermès Sellier in Lyon. Twenty of the world’s top riders competed in this 1.60m class. You needed to ride fast and true to be among the ten qualifiers for the second round. Two riders conceded a penalty point, Christian Ahlmann on Ailina, and the world number two, Martin Fuchs on Silver Shine, who finished sixth and fifth, respectively. Mark McAuley and Miebello were the first to complete a second clear round and set the benchmark time of 43”00, but the following riders notched up faster and faster rounds to try and win the class in front of a vociferous crowd. Finally, the British rider Scott Brash came out on top, for the second year in a row. He rode an extremely fast jump-off on Hello Shelby, full of poise and fluidity. “There was a great atmosphere. It was a very exciting class that I am proud to have won again. Shelby jumped incredibly well, and even better in the jump-off. I am delighted to see how he is improving day after day. He seems to be enjoying it more and more. He’s a real class act. It makes my life easier,” said Brash after his win.

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Moggre Is Magnificent in Lexington

Brian Moggre and MTM Vivre le Reve. (FEI/Ashley Neuhof)

At just 18 years old, Brian Moggre (USA) recorded his second career World Cup victory in the $225,000 CSI4*-W Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Lexington (USA).

Riding MTM Vivre le Reve, Moggre became the youngest rider to win the class in the event’s history. The duo topped an eight-horse jump-off that included the likes of Olympic gold medalist Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final Champion Beat Mändli (SUI) and others among the star-studded cast of competitors.

Opening up the stride to a full gallop, Moggre and his mount positively soared over the final fence, crossing the timers of Ken Krome’s (USA) shortened course in 34.22 seconds. Karen Polle (JPN) and Kino finished second, just two-tenths of a second behind them on a time of 34.44 seconds, while David Blake (IRL) and Keoki finished third. Their time was 36.87 seconds.

“That moment, for me, was something I never expected to feel, especially this year and where I am in my career. That horse is really special to me. He’s really taken me through the ranks. He was really on his game today, and luckily I was on mine!” — Brian Moggre (USA)

While Moggre only began competing at the World Cup level this year, his partnership with his mount extends back nearly four years.

“We were both young when I got him,” he explained. “I was 14, and he was seven, so we’ve grown a lot together. I jumped my first five star this year, and it was also his first five star. I really think this horse is a product of having a good relationship with your horse and excellent training. To grow with him is something that is very special to me. These major first victories — I wouldn’t want to do it with any other horse.”

After recording his first World Cup victory at the end of last season in Ocala, Moggre is out to earn his first trip to the Finals, set for April in Las Vegas (USA). His victory in Lexington moved him into second in the east coast sub league standings of the North American League, behind only two-time World Cup Final Champion Beezie Madden (USA). Madden boasts 48 points, while Moggre now has 41. Andrew Welles (USA) sits third in the standings with 26 points.

The North American League continues with a double-header of World Cup action in Thermal (USA) and Toronto (CAN) on 9 November 2019.

FULL RESULTS

By Catie Staszak

FEI Media Contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager Press Relations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Kevin Staut Gets Off to a Flying Start in Lyon

Image copyright PSV.

Kevin Staut is clearly one of the fans’ favourite riders in Lyon. So, when he completed his second clear round in a record time of 36”15 with Urhelia Lutterbach, during a spectacular jump-off with 16 of the best riders in the world, all the spectators in the grandstands around the main arena stood to applaud him. Riding at the end of the class, neither the current world number one Steve Guerdat nor the German champion Marcus Ehning managed to dislodge the Frenchman from the top step of the podium for this Longines Grand Prix at 1.60m.

This was Kevin Staut’s first win in a 5* Grand Prix with Urhelia Lutterbach, the former horse of Grégory Cottard. “It’s a wonderful story. Gregory used to ride the horse and had achieved some great things with her. I started riding her back in June. I felt comfortable riding her right from the beginning. She jumped a lot of clear rounds. Gregory always told me that she jumped well indoors, that she was more focused. She certainly proved it tonight,” said the Frenchman, clearly moved and delighted with the win.

France even managed a one-two in this class. Alexis Deroubaix and Timon d’Aure – regulars in the French team – managed to complete a double clear round in a time of 36”85 and took a fine second place. The Swiss European champion Martin Fuchs took third place on the podium with Silver Shine (37”42). In total, only 5 of the 16 riders in the jump-off managed to complete their second round without incurring a penalty in this Longines Grand Prix.

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Boyd Exell(s) in Lyon

Image copyright PSV.

For his first appearance at the Longines Equita Lyon, the world number 1 in the discipline confirmed his standing in the first round of the FEI Driving World Cup stage, which will decide the order for the final. This first round, a kind of dress rehearsal for Sunday, allowed the leaders to get their bearings, test their options, and allowed the horses to discover the arena, the atmosphere, the light, and so on. Combining speed and maneuverability, the leaders of the discipline had to go as quickly as possible between the posts, gates, and over a bridge, each fault adding 4 extra seconds to their initial time. Speed and precision are therefore the watchwords in this event. After the first round, the three best teams are measured in a “drive-off”, by adding the two rounds together to give the final ranking of the day. The first to start the drive-off was the Dutchman Koos de Ronde who set the pace with his carriage, crossing the finish line in 313.51 seconds. The challenge was then taken up by the Swiss Jérôme Voutaz and his four Franche-Montagne horses, the holders of the title for the Lyon stage (312.74 sec.). Their fast pace got the crowds on their feet, as they eagerly awaited to see the world’s number one, the Australian Boyd Exell, who was competing for the first time in Lyon. The master did not disappoint the public, performing a quick round with impressive fluidity, placing first in the class (297.48 sec.). “I was surprised by the warmth and enthusiasm of the audience at 9am! This is my first time in Lyon, and I must say that the organisation is brilliant. You get helped when you arrive, and the hotel is really nice. I feel good here. My horses are great. We did the first round without forcing too much and went faster for the second. They are just the best.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com