Eventing, the second in the 2013 series of test events for next year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, finished in Caen (FRA) today with victory for Italy’s Vittoria Panizzon and Merlots Magic, winners of the Irish CCI2* at Ballindenisk last September.
The Italian Air Force rider, who celebrates her 30th birthday next month, led after Dressage and held on to the top spot overnight with a classical Cross Country clear round on Pierre Michelet’s 26-fence track that made the most of the spectacular countryside at Haras du Pin.
The horse inspection was held at Haras du Pin at 7.30 this morning prior to transporting the horses up to the Centre Equestre de Caen for the final Jumping phase. Just one fence separated the top three going into today’s test and, when both the Australian challengers, Christopher Burton (Graf Liberty) and Andrew Hoy (Cheeky Calimbo) lowered the second element of the double of verticals, Panizzon was given a bit of breathing space. Incredibly, Merlots Magic hit the same fence, but the Italian pair kept it together to clear the final two fences for the win.
Andrew Hoy held on to take second place, but fellow Australian Christopher Burton dropped one place to fourth behind Maxime Livio, whose clear with Qalao Des Mers left him best of the home side in third.
“I’m really thrilled”, Panizzon said after the prize giving, “as he’s not the best show jumper. I’ve never been to Haras du Pin before, and it’s a fabulous setting and a really beautiful course. I’m sure the Games will be well attended next year and if we can get the same level of support and the same atmosphere as there was in London last year it will be fantastic.”
The test event allowed the organising committee to test out the numerous technical and logistical challenges involved in staging a CCI at two different venues, including the transport between Haras du Pin and Caen. With 44 horses and riders from 20 National Federations, it was also vital to trial the 78 kilometre route in full convoy before next year’s Games.
“I was very concerned about the convoy,” Eventing Discipline Manager Jean-Marc Varillon said, “but Peden Bloodstock did a fantastic job and now I’m really confident about the convoy for next year. I was also very happy with the Cross Country course. We did a lot of work on the ground and we expect it to be perfect for 2014. Overall, we have all the basics and now we can work on the details.”
Laurent Cellier, Sports Director for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014, was also very happy with this second test event. “We know that we have a lot of work to do for 2014, but the feedback from the National Federations has been very good. It was most important to test the convoy, the technology, the footing and the track, as well as the volunteers and the competition team. Now we know exactly what we need to do to organise the best Games next year.”
“It was a really good test event,” FEI Director Eventing Catrin Norinder said. “The organisers pulled their team together really well and it was very useful for the National Federations to get an understanding of how the organisation works, and also for the organising committee to understand their concerns as well. There are so many different elements involved in these huge events, and the test events are an essential part of making sure that everything works.”
The Eventing competition was the second in the series of test events that will be staged by the organising committee in the build-up to next year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. The third test event, Driving, takes centre stage at the Hippodrome in Caen next week (23-25 August), while the main venue at Stade d’Ornano will be used for the Jumping and Dressage test events in June 2014.
CCI2* Haras du Pin/Caen (FRA) test event – 1, Vittoria Panizzon (ITA), Merlots Magic, 45.6; 2, Andrew Hoy (AUS), Cheeky Calimbo, 46.1; 3, Maxime Livio (FRA), Qalao Des Mers, 47.9; 4, Christopher Burton (AUS), Graf Liberty, 48.1; 5, Kevin McNabb (AUS), Casperelli, 48.1; 6, Martin Denisot (FRA), Quiro Hoy, 50.2.