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Birthday boy secures surprise place for Malmö
Martinvast, France

Pierre-Marie Dubois (FRA) celebrated his 23rd birthday on Sunday by racing up the leader board to emerge the surprise winner of the final FEI World Cup qualifier, at Martinvast (FRA), the event which both opened and closed the 2005-06 series.

Dubois, riding his father's Ira d'Islea, was only 15th after dressage on a score of 58.0 penalties, but sped up the placings as the only rider to finish the competition on his dressage score.

He finished on the same score as Anna Hilton (SWE) riding Mr Dalby, the joint leader after cross-country and show jumping, but took home the first prize of 30,000 € because he finished 1sec nearer the optimum time than Hilton.

"I'm thrilled," said Dubois. "I'm hoping to ride in the final at Malmo (SWE) if my trainer Thierry Touzaint says yes."

"If only I'd been one second faster," said Hilton, who was third at Martinvast in 2005. "I put in an extra stride at the penultimate fence and that was where I lost it. But I will be back next year!"

Pascal Leroy (FRA) from Pau, riding his top horse Glenburny du Leou, was second fastest on the cross country, adding just 2 penalties and finishing on a final score of 61.2. Rodolphe Scherer was fourth on Fairfax, the former four-star ride of Heidi Antikatzides, on 61.4.

Jean-Lou Bigot (FRA) on Derby de Longueval led the dressage phase (46.3) but lost his advantage with a refusal and knockdowns in the jumping arena which left him in finish fifth place (62.3).

The cross-country was run as the final phase and in reverse order of merit, and produced a thrilling competition. The very last competitor on course, Julie Tew (GBR), in the joint lead with Anna Hilton, was eliminated when her horse Sir Roselier ran out at the narrow fences at 13.

Dubois now moves into joint 14th place in the FEI World Cup rankings on 100 points and has thus earned his place at the final at Malmö (SWE) on September 23-24.

A total of 220 riders have competed in 17 qualifiers over 12 months in nine countries. Phillip Dutton (AUS) has led virtually throughout the series, and has a total of 170 points, followed by Karin Donckers (BEL) on 165. Last year's champion Clayton Fredericks (AUS) is in third on 152.

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