The cross country test is the most awaited event during these three days of competition, both for the public and also for the riders themselves. At 11 am this morning the competition began for the 89 riders taking part.
Today’s agenda was focused on a spectacular course made up of 24 natural obstacles, representing 33 jumping efforts to be performed, spread out over a total distance of 3, 750 m, to be completed in 6’35’’, the time allowed on the round. This was a hard task even for the best riders present at the event.
The water crossings were the areas which proved to be the toughest for the riders. The Generali obstacles located at the beginning of the course (no. 5 the water crossing and no.6 the Boot Jack) resulted in 3 refusals and one elimination for the former and 3 refusals on the latter. The second water crossing (positioned as the 15th obstacle) which was recently created for the European Championships, notched up 4 minor falls and a refusal.
As the cross country test is usually one of his strong points, Nicolas Touzaint, the French leader was eagerly awaited when he arrived at 12.15 pm in the start box. He was in 4th place after the dressage event with Hildago de l’Ile (the horse with which he won the Badminton Horse International Trials (CCI 4*) in 2008). The rider from Angiers confirmed his talent and finished the course –with a wonderful performance- in 6’39’’ (1.6 penalty points). As a result he found himself at the top of the provisional line up. None of the other riders managed to dislodge him.
Neither Bettina Hoy/ Ringwood Cockatoo (GER) (who was 1st after the dressage test) who finished the cross country test with a time of 7’02’’ (10.8 pts), nor Lucinda Fredericks / Headley Brittania (AUS), 3rd in the provisional line up the day before, who finished the cross country test in 7’04’’ (11.6 penalty points) and dropped back to the 7th place after this part of the competition.
Arnaud Boiteau Manages to Achieve the Ideal Time
The best time for the cross country test (the ideal time) was achieved by the rider and horse which were Olympic Champions in the team event in 2004, Arnaud Boiteau / Expo du Moulin. The rider finished the round without any problems in 6’35’’. His performance allowed him to climb 12 places in the rankings, putting him in 5th position in the provisional line up after the cross country test.
Arnaud Boiteau: “I am very pleased with my horse after his “bad patch” last year. (In 2008, Expo du Moulin stopped twice in Germany, which prevented him from taking part in the Olympic Games in Beijing). He was no longer motivated to compete. After consulting with Thierry Touzaint (the national selector), we decided to give it another go this year using one simple rule: knowing how to listen to him as he has really devoted himself to the French team. Therefore following the break last season, we entered him for the “Grand National” 2009 competition in Saumur, where he finished third. He performed very well in Saumur, but it is his home territory so he feels confident there. This is why it was importance for him to participate here in Fontainebleau, to really see if he wants to start competing again.
Today’s course was a good test for me, especially with the no.5 water crossing. It was not difficult but it was rather spectacular. The rest of the course was a very pleasurable experience. Expo du Moulin was fantastic. Although he is 17, he is in great shape and has the limbs of a young horse. Having said that, I will remain vigilant for the jumping test tomorrow as the main arena of the Grand Parquet is like the arena in Aachen (GER). My horse jumps very well, he seems to want to compete again. In any case, whatever happens tomorrow, what is fundamental for me is to listen to him.”
What they said after the cross country test:
Nicolas Touzaint (FRA): “Hildago performed very well, he is in great shape. My objective for this competition was to prepare him for the Lexington International Horse Trials (CCI 4*) (April 2009). This course has really been ideal for that. I am not predicting anything for tomorrow’s test (jumping event). In previous years on this same ground, I unfortunately finished with 20 faults (in 2008) and 16 faults (in 2007). Perhaps this is the occasion for me to change tactics for this last event… “(He smiles).
Bettina Hoy (ALL): “Like Nicolas, I also came to prepare my horse for Lexington. Ringwood Cockatoo had a really great performance and was very fluid. I am not making any forecasts for tomorrow, as the ground is hard as it is hilly. For me, it is not the obstacles that will prove difficult but more the variations in the ground. ”
Lucy Wiegersma (GB): “I am pleased that Bettina and Nicolas are taking part in the Lexington International Horse Trials (CCI 4*) and therefore will allow me to have the chance of winning the Badminton International Horse Trials (GB –C CI 4*) (she laughs). More seriously, during the test today, my horse was in good shape and I am generally pleased with him except that I lost time at the beginning of the course that I had to make up later on. I will not make this mistake at Badminton, in any case I will try to avoid doing so. For the jumping test tomorrow, I do not know how things will go as Shaabrak can sometimes be sensitive. Having said that I have confidence in both of us. ”
As for the rankings, here are the results after the cross country test:
Individually: 1- Nicolas Touzaint / Hildago de l’Ile (FRA) 40.6 pts ; 2- Bettina Hoy / Ringwood Cockatoo (GER) 42.5 pts; 3- Lucy Wiegersma / Shaabrak (GB) 43.4 pts ; 4- Simone Deitermann / Flambeau H 3 (GER) 46.7 pts ; 5- Arnaud Boiteau / Expo du Moulin (FRA) 47.5 pts Teams: 1- France 141.10 pts / 2- Germany 156.30 pts; 3- Great Britain 158.90 pts; 4- Belgium 186.40 pts; 5- The Netherlands 189.70 pts