Les Etoiles de Pau: Three Women Take the Lead

This is no news; women always were entitled to one’s say in eventing competitions. Once again, they proved their talent by taking the lead on Friday’s dressage test. But the biggest challenge is yet to come.

With 41,8 points, Belgian Karin Donckers and British Ruth Edge are sharing the first place ahead of another British, Sharon Hunt, who won the German leg in Luhmühlen. She thus remains a serious rival to her fellow-countryman William Fox-Pitt and German Andreas Dibowski in this HSBC FEI Classics race where the winner takes 150.000 US$.

After this first day, the world’s number one (Fox-Pitt) and the team Olympic champion 2008 (Dibowski) are laying a little behind those ladies and are now counting on the cross-country to take control of the situation. A very selective course as most of the competitors agreed to say today, notably many technical turning questions. “Pau was known for being a rather indulgent four star event that was perfect to start up at this level, says Frenchman Karim Florent Laghouag, but I have to admit that it has become more and more challenging over the years.”

No mouth bleeding problems today for the French rider (i.e. Lexington) that placed 17th in this first test, his Havenir d’Azac being a little hot and not very concentrated. The best French performance so far belongs to Pascal Leroy, one of Pau’s most faithful competitors (he didn’t miss one edition since the creation of the CCI, 20 years ago). With Glennbury du Léou he came in 10th (48,8) just behind William Fox-Pitt … there may be some surprises!

Tomorrow, right after the two star cross-country where French fans hope to see Nicolas Touzaint keep his lead, Sharon Hunt will launch into the main test at 13h30 with Kenny, her second horse, before riding Tankers Town at 16h15 with whom she will try to stay ahead of the ranking.

For more information visit www.event-pau.fr:
-  Written interview with Sharon Hunt (English and French)
-  Video interview with Karin Donckers (French
-  Video interview with Karin Donckers Andreas Dibowski (English)
-  Video interview with Karim Florent Laghouag (French)

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The cross can be viewed live on www.equidiawatch.fr and on www.event-pau.fr

Photo: Sharon Hunt will open and close tomorrow’s cross. She could enter the top five of the HSBC FEI Classics … even win them. © Marianne Delleci