Frenchman Nicolas Touzaint is the most prolific winner in the history of the event having won six gold medals between 2000 and 2005, including the 6 year old championship in 2000 and the 7 year old championship in 2001 riding Galan de Sauvagère, his double individual European gold medal winning mount. Jung won the silver medal in both the 6 and 7 year old categories with his 2010 FEI World Eventing Championship ride La Biosthétique-Sam, and 2011 Lexington CCI4* winner, King's Temptress ridden by Great Britain's Mary King. is another Le Lion graduate.
The 'Mondial du Lion' has taken place every year since 1986 at the same venue - the Isle Briand Estate - and is always staged at the beginning of the French All Saints holidays. The winner of the inaugural fixture was the current coach of the French eventing team, Laurent Bousquet, on Jim Pam. That year 43 combinations lined out, a number which rose so rapidly it had to be capped at 110 by the FEI. The Championships have also proven increasingly popular with the public, with attendance figures rising from 5,000 in 1986 to a record 41,000 in 2009.
6 Year Olds
Australia’s Paul Tapner set the target in the 6 Year Old competition with a dressage mark of 44.60 from the thoroughbred, Indian Mill. And Belgium’s Virginie Caulier slotted into second at this early stage with Voyelle del a Baille Rouge whose score of 46.10 gave her a small lead over Jung and Rocana in third. A race-horse “with too much talent!” according to his rider, Indian Mill was purchased in the Tattersalls Sales Ring in Ireland and Tapner knew that he would perform well in Saturday’s cross-country phase. “It’s not too technical, but it will require horses which are jumping fences they’ve never seen before to be brave. Indian Mill may not be the fastest horse, but he is plucky” said his rider who, however, with great wisdom in retrospect, added that “the show jumping bothers me, he jumps well, but he has not done a full season and he can make mistakes due to lack experience”. That statement would prove prophetic.
From the field of 42 starters, one retired, two fell and five had refusals on cross-country day but 29 jumped double-clear over the 24-fence track. Tapner was still out in front when one of the latter. “I had to work hard to earn my money today!” the British rider said. “Indian made a lot of mistakes due to his inexperience, he wasn’t consistent and sometimes he jumped strangely which he doesn’t normally do. I hope he will be more attentive to what I say during the show jumping tomorrow” he added.
The leading three all held their positions going into yesterday’s final Jumping phase, but disaster struck for the Australian with four fences down and an additional time fault which sent Indian Mill plummeting to 13th place, while two mistakes for Caulier’s mare dropped her out of medal contention to sixth. This left it wide open for Jung, and the 29 year old whose incredible strike-rate already embraces 63 wins including the World title in 2010 and team and individual gold in the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships this summer, took full advantage to take the title with a cool clear. “I knew my mare was talented!” the German rider said afterwards. “She was 110% throughout the competition and this morning she was lively and very attentive throughout the whole round. I hope to come back here with her next year” he pointed out, “but for the moment she is going to have a rest in her field!”
It was a one-two for the mares, as Britain’s Rosalind Canter slotted into silver medal position with Aprobanta who had been sitting quietly in fourth place since the opening day. From Lincolnshire, near Burghley, 25 year old Canter enjoyed a great cross-country run during which she said Aprobanta “was less overwhelmed by the crowds than me! It’s been a great week” the British rider said. Bronze went to the 27 year old Italian Emiliano Portale who finished fourth in the 6 Year Old Championship last year. This time around he was partnering Rubens delle Sementarecce and he said “I’ve been riding this horse since he was four, and he’s very talented. He competed in national jumping and eventing championships and won the Italian Championships for 6 Year Olds this summer. He gave his best this week, as he always does”.
7 Year Olds
Germans dominated the 7 Year Old class when Franziska Haunhorst and Songline 2 and Ingrid Klimke with Hale Bob 3 filled the top two places after dressage. Two Britons shared bronze medal spot at this early stage, when both Kitty King and Zidante, and Piggy French with Kiltealy Brief scored 44.10.
But Pierre Michelet’s cross-country test took a heavy toll in this competition, 32 of the 68 competitors having refusals around the 25-fence track, eight taking falls, one retiring, and 11 eliminated. European team gold medallist Klimke disappeared from the reckoning with Hale Bob following two refusals and a lot of time penalties, and dressage leader Haunhorst followed suit due to two stops at the water crossing. Some other notable victims of the track included Australia’s Clayton Fredericks and Bill Levett who both bit the turf during the afternoon.
In contrast it was a great day for the British contingent who rocketed up the leaderboard with clears from King who took over at the head of affairs, French who slotted into second, Ruth Edge and Bojack who moved into third and Nicola Wilson and Annie Clover who galloped into fourth place.
It looked very much like it would be a British whitewash on the final day, but a mistake from French allowed Germany’s Andreas Brandt to to sneak into silver medal position with FRH Escada JS who had moved steadily up the rankings from 14th place and never put a foot wrong in the jumping phases. Despite one pole down, 29 year old King held on to win with the consistent Zidante who claimed the bronze medal in the 6 Year Old Championship last year. “This is an amazing feeling” said the new gold medallist. “It is my first CCI victory since 2002”. King described Zidante as “a great girl, she thinks she is a princess, she has a high opinion of herself and she is probably right!” Silver medallist Brandt described himself as “very lucky”.
“Escada is a real warrior, she is fantastic and without doubt the best horse I have ridden until now. During my round all I thought about was riding well, but I savoured my success after I finished!” he pointed out. French was well-pleased, as she was competing with badly bruised ribs after a heavy fall two weeks ago. “I couldn’t ride my horse too much before I cam here, but he was extraordinary” she said after accepting the bronze. The winning Studbook was the Royal Warmblood Studbook of The Netherlands.
6 Year Olds: GOLD - Rocana (Michael Jung) GER 46.50; SILVER - Aprobanta (Rosalind Canter) GBR 46.70; BRONZE - Rubens delle Sementarecce (Emiliano Portale) ITA 51.70.
7 Year Olds: GOLD - Zidante (Kitty King) GBR 48.10 ; SILVER - FRH Escada JS (Andreas Brandt) GER 48.40; BRONZE - Kiltealy Brief (Piggy French) GBR 48.50.
For further information on the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses 2011 go to http://www.mondialdulion.com/
Photo Caption: Germany’s Michael Jung won the 6 Year Old title with the Hannoverian mare, Rocana FST, at the FEI World Championships for Young Event Horses 2011 at Le Lion d’Angers, France yesterday. Photo: FEI/www.equi-photos.com