Piggy French Wins At Le Lion d'Angers
Le Lion d'Angers, France
Piggy French (GBR) became the first Briton to wrest the prestigious FEI Young Horses (7 years) World Championship CCI** at Le Lion d'Angers (FRA) out of French hands since 2000. And if ever proof were needed as to this competition's status as a pointer to greatness, the winners that year were Pippa Funnell on Primmore's Pride, who went on to win three four-star CCIs and Olympic medals.
French, who has come out of the same school of training - with Ruth McMullen - as Funnell, has won several two-star CCIs in England and lives with British team member Oliver Townend.
She led from the front on Cast Away ll, an Irish Sport Horse imported by Vere Phillipps and bred by Noel Cawley by Clover Brigade out of a Cruising mare, Sailing in Rain.
The ground jury of Michel Asseray (FRA), Nick Burton (GBR) and Helen Christie (NZL) unaminously placed her first after the dressage phase, on 39.8 penalties, and she added nothing else to that.
"Le Lion is definitely one of the things I'd like to say I've won in my career. If this horse doesn't do well in his future, I will feel I have failed as a rider," said French.
Touzaint, a six-times winner and local hero at Le Lion, lay menacingly second throughout on, unusually for him, a Dutch warmblood, Barlovento, but hit two rails in the final, jumping, phase to drop to ninth.
Michael Jung (GER), a regular visitor to Le Lion, was second, on his dressage score of 40.4, on La Biosthetique Sam FB, last year's six-year-old runner-up at Le Lion and by the Irish Sport Horse stallion Stan the Man, the same sire as that of the reigning Olympic champion Shear L'Eau who, incidentally, also began his illustrious career at Le Lion.
Lucinda Fredericks was third for Australia on the German warmblood Prada, by Pik Junior, on 44.0, and Andrew Nicholson (NZL) was fourth on Rosemary Barlow's rising star Avebury, who was bred by Nicholson by the Irish Sport Horse sire Jumbo (sire of Fredericks's Badminton winner Headley Britannia). Mary King (GBR), the European silver medallist, completed a hat-trick of placings on her own home-bred horses at Le Lion, finishing fifth on the
Thoroughbred Kings Temptress by Primitive Rising. This follows placings in the last two years on Kings Gem and Kings Fancy, which is a remarkable achievement for a rider.
Last year's winner, Aurelien Khan (FRA), was the best of the French riders in sixth place on the Selle Francais Must des Sureaux.
Out of the field of 56 starters, 42 completed the competition, with 37 clear cross-country rounds and 23 inside the optimum time over Pierre Michelet's course. Prize money went down to 14th - the winner collected 9,400 euro - and 16 nations were represented. The six-year-old CIC* was won by Frank Ostholt (GER) on the Westphalian Quite Easy.
It was not until the final Jumping phase where only 8 clear rounds were recorded that Frank Ostholt (GER) was able to secure the gold medal for the 6 years category. Frank Ostholt has had a remarkable year already winning the test event in Hong Kong. He was followed by Andrew Heffernan (NED) and Newton de la Love, while Camille Piat (FRA) and New de la Bergère came third. The six-year-old winner in 2000 was none other than Nicolas Touzaint on Galan de Sauvagere, now the reigning FEI World Cup and European Champion. An astonishing 28% of horses competing at this year's Europeans had been to Le Lion as youngsters.
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