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Nicolas Touzaint Sees Stars
Pau, France
Photo: PSV-Jean Morel
Nicolas Touzaint (FRA)
Cross country has just found its fifth star in the shape of the French pair Nicolas Touzaint, Team Olympic Champion in 2004 and current European Champion, with his 12 year old horse Hidalgo de l'Ile. Together they offered the public an almost perfect cross country test. Not only did they manage to find a way round all the difficulties on this first French four star event but they also managed to finish with no fence faults and in a record time of 11 minutes and 06 secs instead of the allowed 11 minutes and 10 seconds.

NicolasTouzaint : "I am satisfied with my horse who really did well. I have always believed in him, and I always thought that he was capable of tackling this type of competition. He is getting more experienced and listens to me more now. Since competing in the CCI 4* at Badminton we have worked on his balance and looked for a suitable bit, the results are visible."

32 natural fences representing 45 jumping efforts, this was today's sporting programme on the long awaited cross country test.

Andrew Hoy and Yeoman's Point (Aus) didn't start, so 34 couples set off on the cross country course designed by Pierre Michelet, the international course designer. As soon as they walked the course the riders agreed that this 2007 course was worthy of its 4 stars. And the proof of this was seen during the event. The combination fences were a problem for a few riders including some of the favorites. To mention just a few, obstacle no 6 - Pau Lake - caused 11 refusals for riders such as Matt Ryan /Bonza Puzzle (Aus) (2nd place after the dressage). Obstacle no 11 - Conseil General 64 water jump - caused 2 refusals and 3 riders abandonned including Zara Phillips on Red Baron (GB) and the Finnish rider Piia Pantsu after falling. 5 refusals on obstacle no 19 - Pau Pyrenees Airport jump - including Karin Donckers on SS Jett (Bel) and Pascal Leroy riding Glenburny du Léou (6th place after the dressage). Jump number 23 - Ariane's Houses - caused 1 refusal and 2 horses had minor falls - Karin Donckers 2nd horse Rose's Merlin fell here, she had been in fifth place after the dressage and was eliminated, and one rider abandonned here.

To sum up, Pierre Michelet's course caused 27 refusals, 2 minor falls, 6 riders abandonned and 1 rider was eliminated.

Pierre Michelet, International course designer : "I designed my normal type of cross but obviously including more difficult jumps. I included jumps that required the riders and the horses to have more technical skills and required the horses to be under the riders control. These closely spaced combinations did not allow for the slightest misunderstanding between rider and horse."

It isn't necessary to point out that in a 4 star competition only the most capable riders get in to the top places. And as a perfect illustration of this one only has to look at the riders who are currently in the top 3 places.

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