Pierre Michelet’s cross country at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau in France has put paid to a fifth CCI4* crown for the Kiwis as the season draws to a close.
It proved a challenge for many – whether that be the time or the jumps. Only four of the 59 combinations to tackle the course came home clear and inside time. Eleven combinations were eliminated – nine of those from falls, including overnight leader, world number one Oliver Townend aboard Cillnabradden Evo, along with New Zealand’s Tim Price on the classy Ascona M who were sitting in fourth spot coming into the day. There were also 10 retirements, including Jesse Campbell aboard Cleveland and Andy Daines on Spring Panorama.
Tim was philosophical about parting company with his grey mare at the water (at fence 10). “There are a lot of things we can predict and pre-empt and plan for in this game but tripping over in the water is not one of them,” he said. “It is just one of those things. Of course it is devasting because it meant elimination, but she is healthy, I am healthy, and I am looking forward to recapping what has been a fantastic year for Jonelle and myself.”
The couple’s trophy cabinet includes crowns from the 2018 CCI4* competitions at Badminton, Burghley and Luhmuhlen.
The “cracking” two minutes Ascona had given him on course gave him plenty of confidence for the future. “She is a future 4* champion,” he said. “I think I got a good bit of reference from her for the future. I think next year a couple of 4* (starts) will be right up her ally.”
Their relationship was still fairly new, and he was already looking forward to starting the new season with her.
Andy opted to save Spring Panorama for another day. “It wasn’t how we wanted to finish our season but on the good side we did a personal best dressage,” he said. The combination had a run out at fence eight and then pulled him up 10 from home. “He just wasn’t himself, but he is fine. He felt pretty good for most of the course but half way around I just felt something wasn’t right and after having a hairy jump over a skinny it felt like it was the right move to pull up and save him for another day.”
Jesse and Cleveland had two refusals (fences 16B and 25) before retiring while Caroline withdrew Spice Sensation before the cross country.
Frenchman Thibault Fournier and Siniani de Lathus lead the 4* on their dressage score of 25.5 with Brits Gemma Tattersall, Izzy Taylor and Rosalind Canter filling the next three places. EquiRatings – the gurus of all things that involve numbers and eventing – say if Ros can finish on the podium she will become the first female world number one since 2011.
In the CIC2*, Jesse and I Spye added 13.2 time penalties to finish the day mid-field on 44.8 penalty points, with Caroline and Flipper K on 88.4 after a costly two refusals. Not a single combination came home clear and inside time.
The competition culminates overnight with the showjumping.
The horse details:
Cleveland – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
Spring Panorama – owned by Leanne and David Jensen and Andy Daines
Spice Sensation – owned by Claire and Michael Hunter and Caroline Powell
Ascona M – owned by Suzanne Houchin, Lucy and Ben Sangster and Sir Peter Vela
I Spye – owned by Kent Gardner and Jesse Campbell
Flipper K – owned by Nicholas and Fiona Lambert
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos by – Libby Law/ESNZ