The 2010 HSBC FEI Classics™ are set to come to a thrilling climax this weekend (November 4-7) at Les Etoiles de Pau in south-west France. Three out of four of this season’s CCI4* winners are entered for what promises to be the closest finale yet to the series in which the leading rider will scoop a fabulous US$150,000.
William Fox-Pitt (GBR), the inaugural HSBC FEI Classics™ winner in 2008, leads the table with a win at Kentucky (on Cool Mountain) and a second placing at Burghley (Seacookie), but he is not invincible, and will need to achieve a high placing at Pau on Navigator if he is to stay ahead of the chasing pack.
Fellow CCI4* winners Paul Tapner (AUS) and Sharon Hunt (GBR) are both entered; only the Burghley victor, Caroline Powell (NZL), is absent, but her 21 points may well be enough to keep her in the top five money-earning places.
Andreas Dibowski (GER) is also looking dangerous, in second place, just five points in arrears of Fox-Pitt; Oliver Townend (GBR), last year’s HSBC FEI Classics™ winner, could pull it off triumph again, and Andrew Nicholson (NZL) and Boyd Martin (USA) are poised to race up the leaderboard.
It promises to be a thrilling finale and a fitting finish to the 2010 HSBC FEI Classics™ series.
William Fox-Pitt is riding high after winning team gold and individual silver medals at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™. He rides Navigator, 23rd at Kentucky this year.
Paul Tapner, winner of Badminton, has a good CCI4* record with Kilfinnie, 15th at Burghley last year.
Sharon Hunt, winner of Luhmühlen on the veteran Tankers Town, comes two-handed with that horse and his younger stablemate Kenny, 33rd at Blenheim CCI3* this year.
Andreas Dibowski is still chasing his first CCI4* victory, after second places here last year, and at Badminton. He rides the mare FRH Fantasia, an impressive third at Luhmühlen.
Oliver Townend, winner of Badminton and Burghley last year, rides ODT Master Rose, clear across country at Kentucky in April and in seventh place before his fall on his second horse.
Boyd Martin, currently 14th with eight points on the HSBC FEI Classics leaderboard, finished 12th at Kentucky this year on Remington XXV.
Andrew Nicholson, World team and individual bronze medallist, was fourth at Luhmühlen this year on Mr Cruise Control.
Around 35 riders are expected to start; 13 nations are represented. Follow the competition on www.event-pau.fr
HSBC FEI Classics™ Standings (after 4 of 5 events)
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 27
2 Andreas Dibowski (GER) 22
3 Caroline Powell (NZL) 21
4 Mary King (GBR) 18
5 Paul Tapner (AUS) 15
6 Sharon Hunt (GBR) 15
7 Oliver Townend (GBR) 14
8 Ingrid Klimke (GER) 12
9 Phillip Dutton (USA) 12
10 Clayton Fredericks (AUS) 10
HSBC FEI Classics™ Calendar of Events in 2010
1. 21-25 April - Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event (USA)
2. 30 April - 03 May - Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR)
3. 17-20 June - Luhmühlen presented by E.ON Avacon (GER)
4. 2-5 September - Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR)
5. 4-7 November- Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA)
HSBC has contributed US$ 1million to the series over three years. Prize-money is awarded, as follows, to the top five riders on the leaderboard after the fifth and final event:
WINNERS OF THE 2009 SEASON
1. Oliver Townend (GBR) - US$ 150,000 (Series champion);
2. Dirk Schrade (GER) - US$ 75,000;
3. Andreas Dibowski - (GER) US$ 50,000;
4. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) - US$ 33,000;
5. Sam Griffiths (AUS) - US$ 25,000
Photo Credit: William Fox Pitt and Cool Mountain taken at WEG by Diana DeRosa