Laura Collett ©S. Bailly/Centaure Production.
Once again this year, the cross-country event at the 5 Étoiles de Pau staged a magnificent show for its spectators. Thirty-one combinations and forty-five efforts to be negotiated along the 6.3-km course, and all in just 11.08 minutes. That was the challenge that French course designer Pierre Michelet set the forty-five competitors on the start list for the only 5*-L cross-country event this year.
Ten horse-rider pairs completed a flawless round, riding home without a single obstacle penalty and within the time limit imposed. Among them was British rider Laura Collett with London 52, who stays in pole position. Her fellow countrywoman Piggy March, riding Brookfield Inocent, took advantage of the few difficulties encountered by Christopher Burton to take second place on the provisional podium. New Zealand rider Tim Price also climbed up one place after the cross-country event, despite being just a second over the time limit, riding home in third place on Wesko. The French riders ended the day with three flawless rides. Jean-Lou Bigot climbs up to eighth place with Utrillo du Halage. Alexis Goury and Trompe l’Oeil d’Emery got into the Top 10, while Maxime Livio and Vitorio du Montet, thirty-first after the dressage test, now lie in twelfth place before the final show-jumping test. Another wonderful day for equestrian sport, and some splendid French performances as two of these three horses were competing for the first time at five-star level.
Laura Collett: “It really picks you up to hear the encouragements from spectators along the course! The public here in Pau is really amazing. So, a big thank you to them all and to the organisation team to have made it possible to run the cross-country course in these conditions. After his first round with Mr Bass, I knew I had to be very careful with London 52 on the combinations. He’s a very careful horse and always jumps a bit bigger too. So, I stayed very concentrated and he was just perfect. It’s the first time he’s ridden an eleven-minute cross-country course, so I’ll see how things go tomorrow in the show-jumping event, but whatever happens, I’m just really proud of him this evening!”
Piggy March: “We’re really lucky to be here in Pau. For me it was a golden opportunity to prepare Brookfield Inocent for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. I’ve never been to Pau before, but I more or less expected the kind of course that we rode today: a course that encouraged forward, brave, attacking riding but with the odd sneaky thing put in. I’m really proud of my horse who was competing in his first 5* cross-country event today. I think he’s one of the best horses I’ve ever had.”
Tim Price: “2020 has been a strange year for everyone. If there was only to be one 5* competition this year, the Pau five star is a pretty good representation. So, a big thank you to the organisation team and course designer Pierre Michelet for the quality of the course today. It was a course that encouraged bravery but also demanded us as riders to be on our toes, take the brilliance of some of the big jumps and do something with it. For me, that’s exactly how a cross-country course should be at this level.”
Jean-Lou Bigot: “When I walked the course, I loved it already even before riding it! Pierre Michelet gave use a wonderfully balanced and technical course to work with. Congratulations and a big thank you to him! All the same, I can’t say that it was an easy ride for me. Since the European Championships, Utrillo du Halage has made a lot of progress and I’m really pleased with his performance in both the dressage test and the cross-country event today, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do to compete at the same level as Tim Price (laughs)!”
The starting lists, results, maps, practical information, and ticket office are available on the mobile App “Les 5 Étoiles de Pau” or on the website for the event: www.event-pau.fr.
Juliette Feytout – E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org