Pau proved to be last but certainly not least, as the final CCI **** event of the season took place in the South of France last weekend. There were a strong contingent of British riders that stepped up to represent but it was a young French rider Thibault Fournier, who took the title. Competing at his first event at this level, Fournier did a fantastic cross country round that was clear and within the 11.06 allowed for the challenging twisty course. I was lucky enough to attend the cross country last weekend and it certainly proved to be a very exciting day of riding.
(Pictured is Gemma Tattersall)
When I say it was exciting I am not exaggerating. 3 top riders were eliminated on course due to falling off. William Fox- Pitt , Tim Price and the overnight leader Oliver Townend. Which accounted for part of the reason the leader board changed quite dramatically after the cross country. The course was praised for being the most challenging ever at Pau. It was full of twists and turns and the jumps themselves were imaginative and challenging, with many very narrow jumps that really tested both the horse & rider.
Pictured: Some of the challenging obstacles & William Fox-Pitt before his fall.
The day finished with Thibault Fournier (France) climbing into first position, ahead of Gemma Tattersall (GB) and Izzy Taylor (GB), with Ros Canter (GB) in 5th position. If Ros could finish in the top 3 it would mean she would become the world number 1, a position not held by a woman since Mary King in 2011. Unfortunately it didn’t happen, but she is still World Champion, so not a bad season for her!
Final Results after Showjumping :
1) Thibault Fournier & Siniani de Lathus (France)
2) Gemma Tattersall & Pamero 4 (GB)
3) Clara Loiseau & Won’t Wait (France)
Pictured is Ros Canter
I had a total fan girl moment when I was waiting for James to buy me a burger. I was stood holding my dog Ziggy and William Fox-Pitt walked straight past me!!! He just strolled through the French crowd and no one else seemed to notice. Apart from me. But did I say something? Did I ask for a selfie? No. I just silently went “oh my god oh my god oh my god it’s William Fox- Pitt” as he continued to stroll past me out of sight. Damn it! I really wish I had spoken to him.
Another highlight for me was going to the start box and watching Oliver Townend and Ros Canter start. I was so impressed at how calm both horse and rider looked at the start of this really big and challenging course. I think I would have been petrified!
Pictured: Oliver Townend
The event is held in the Domaine de Sers, and it didn’t disappoint. It was easy to follow the cross country course on foot, I think we saw every fence actually. There was also bars placed around the course, so you could get a beer and watch the action easily with a drink in hand. There was a small but good shopping village which had mainly French brands, my personal favourite being Padd, as they have a good selection of things for horse and rider for good prices and they also had a few British brands like Fairfax & Favor and Hi Ho Silver. There was also a good selection of food, which I must admit I’ve come to expect living in France! You could have anything from oysters to pasta, a burger or a crepe.
The eventing season has now come to a close and what an exciting finish it was! Pau was a brilliant place to see a few new riders step up to CCI **** for the first time including its winner, so I am very excited for next season as I’m sure we will see many of our old riding favourites return but I’m sure we will have some new favourites soon with many exciting new horses and riders making their debut to this top level of competition.