German star, Michael Jung, scooped the 6-year-old title with Star Connection while Frenchman, Thomas Carlile, steered last year’s 6-year-old winner Tanareze to victory in the 7-year-old category at the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses 2014 at Le Lion d’Angers, France yesterday.
Carlile made history when winning both divisions last autumn, and he perfectly demonstrated the essence of these Championships when topping the line-up at Boekolo in The Netherlands a week ago with the horse with which he won the 7-year-old division 12 months ago, Sirocco du Gers. This important annual fixture, which this year celebrated its 29th edition, is all about highlighting and developing the talent of the future, and once again this year drew record crowds of breeders, spectators and Eventing fans from around the globe to the lovely venue at l’Isle de Briand where they were bathed in brilliant sunshine during four days of fabulous competition.
Course designer, Pierre Michelet, presented another extraordinary set of cross-country fences that included the Violin at fence 5 which was beautifully created by acques Bouguier, the carpenter of the National Stud of Le Lion d'Angers, an inter-twined pair of Dragons at fence 15 and an eye-catching Owl Hole at 18. There were relatively few problems on cross-country day, but the phase still played a significant role in deciding the result in both categories.
The Ground Jury for the 6-year-olds consisted of Hungary’s Fulop Sandor, Nathale Carriere and Jen-Lou Caplain from France and America’s Jane Hamlin, and they placed the Trakehner, Eiskonig by Songline, in pole position with Vincent Martens from Belgium on board after the Dressage phase. Their score of 41.90 left the pair only 0.8 points ahead of the multi-medalled German, Michael Jung riding the Hannoverian, Star Connection, however, so there was no room for error, while Australia’s Christopher Burton lined up third at this early stage with the Dutch-bred Dutch Man Retto on a mark of 44.40.
Only seven horse-and-rider combinations encountered problems on Saturday’s cross-country run in this division, and Martens and Eiskonig were amongst them. A single refusal at fence 15, the Dragons that sat on top of a hillside, was followed by another at the second element of fence 17, so the Belgian rider wisely decided to call it a day.
This left Jung now out in front followed by Burton who produced one of the most eye-catching tours of the competition. Dutch Man Retto appeared still young enough to be a little bemused by some of the advertising boards along the route, but when it came to jumping the obstacles themselves his fabulous technique, allied with super-sympathetic riding from the Australian who never pushed the youngster out of his stride but let him find his own balance and bowl along quite happily, ensured the horse’s Le Lion experience was an enjoyable and successful learning curve.
Great Britain’s Zoe Wilkinson was holding third place going into yesterday’s final Jumping phase with the AES-bred Parkfield Quintessential and left all the fences in place. But two time penalties proved costly, dropping her down to sixth, and allowed her British colleague, Piggy French to rise to third spot instead with the Irish-bred Cooley Dream Extreme, by Cruising, when adding nothing to their first-phase scoreline.
At the sharp end, Burton and Dutch Man Retto piled all the pressure on Jung with a lovely clear, but the German who took team gold and individual silver at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, never flinched as he also proved foot-perfect with Star Connection.
The French had the whip hand after Dressage in the Seven-Year-Old Championship, but once again the leader would be dethroned on cross-country day. Nicolas Touzaint was delighted when the Hosteiner, Caretinhus, produced the best Dressage score for judges Les Smith from Great Britain, Yves-Francois Belz and Jean-Lou Caplain from France and Australia’s Polly Huntington. And with a brilliant mark of just 34.00, he went into the cross-country phase almost six penalty points clear of fellow-countryman Thomas Carlile with Tenareze while Britain’s Tom McEwen was in third on 43.70 with Toledo de Kerser.
After his Dressage test Touzaint said his horse reminded him of his other great ride, Galan de Sauvagere, and was filled with expectation. “He (Caretinhus) has a lot of potential and is learning quickly. He was little hesitant until the middle of this year, but over the last three or four competitions he has really got it!” said the Frenchman. But Caretinhus didn’t look filled with confidence over much of the track, and following a stop at the Owl Hole at 19, he was eliminated for two further refusals at the b and c elements of fence 20.
Once again the 23-fence track generally jumped really well, with only 11 encountering problems from 37 starters and mistakes scattered all across the course. Carlile gave another master-class in cross-country riding with his French Anglo-Arab which is by the international Jumping stallion Jaguar Mail. And with Touzaint now out of the way, he led the field into yesterday’s final Jumping phase. McEwen stayed with him, holding onto second spot with his French-bred horse by another great jumper, Diamant de Semilly, while Michael Jung, who had two strong entries in this class, lay fourth with fischerRicona.
It all fell apart for this pair in the Jumping ring however when they plummeted to 25th place after collecting 12 faults. But the German still got into the line-up with fischerTakinou who moved up from 18th after Dressage to 13th after a clean run across the country, and then stood firm to finish fourth as the coloured poles toppled for many of those ahead of him.
Meanwhile Britain’s Laura Collett was also gaining ground. A total of 14 horse-and-rider combinations completed on their Dressage scores and she was one of those, lying 11th after the first phase and rocketing all the way up to third when adding nothing more to her first-phase mark of 46.20.
McEwen and Toledo de Kerser stood firm with a clear over the coloured poles yesterday, but when Carlile followed suit the 23-year-old Briton had to settle for a very creditable second place. The Frenchman’s record in these Championships is now little short of sensational, and he is only the third rider ever to do the double with the same horse in the 6 and 7-year-old categories.
“I am very satisfied with Teneraze and this second consecutive victory he’s achieved at Le Lion which is a reference point in the Eventing world” said the rider who is only 27 years old. He also steered another Anglo-Arab, Upsilon, into fifth in the 6-year-olds, and he described his entire experience as “an unbelievable weekend and a moment of great happiness for my crew. I am completely overwhelmed!” Carlile added.
Frédéric Lopez Coronado, co-owner of Teneraze along with the rider said, “I have followed Tom for a long time and he is, above all, a true horseman. When I decided to fulfill my dream of making it in Eventing, I contacted him, visited his stables and observed his work methods. This man works in a really professional way but has still managed to keep his beautiful amateur spirit. He is also very competitive” he explained, before adding, “and I will now leave you - because we have a lot to celebrate!”.
Seven-Year-Old Championship: GOLD - Tenareze (Thomas Carlile) FRA 40.60; SILVER - Toledo de Kerser (Tom McEwen) GBR 43.70; BRONZE - Pamero (Laura Collett) GBR 46.20.
Six-Year-Old Championship: GOLD - Star Connection (Michael Jung) GER 42.70; SILVER - Dutch Man Retto (Christopher Burton) AUS 44.40; BRONZE - Cooley Extreme (Piggy French) GBR 47.10.
Full results here http://www.mondialdulion.com/