Young Australian sheep farmer Jamie Hocking was placed third at his first FEI World Cup vaulting event in Paris earlier this month (2-3 December).

Jamie, 21, finished on a score of 7,277 with his seven-year-old mare French Kiss, who is in her first year of competing.

The result exceeded all his expectations.

“To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect before coming to the World Cup. My goal was simple, I had no thoughts of a podium place. I just wanted to go into the competition and try my best,” he said.

The invitation to take part arrived when Jamie was at home in the small rural town of Woolsheds in south Australia.

Encouraged by a vaulting friend from Switzerland, who explained the rules, Jamie decided to “have a crack at it.”

Greeted by huge, noisy and enthusiastic crowds, the inexperienced horse and rider experienced some nerves on the first day of competition.

But guided by Lasse Kristensen, his coach and lunger, Jamie were pleased with their performance, which was only marred by a fall in the first round.

The following day the pair were more confident, performing all the high risk moves they couldn’t try on the first day.

“It turned into a performance I was proud to present,” said Jamie, who admits he had to pinch himself when he found out he was was going to win bronze and some prize money.

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Back at home, Jamie’s mother Sarah was glued to the FEI TV broadcast.

“In the second round we could see how well Jamie was vaulting and how much more French Kiss had settled,” said Mrs Hocking. “It was thrilling to see them both out there with Lasse, who is so experienced and reassuring, no matter what happens.”

The class was won by Frenchman Clement Taillez with Hungarian vaulter Balaz Bence in second.

To fund his vaulting career Jamie farms sheep and works in a local piggery.

Last October he managed to sell several thousand dollars worth of his cross-bred sheep and wool, which helped him get back to Europe and onto the world vaulting stage.

The next challenge for Jamie and French Kiss is the next World Cup Series in Offenburg at the beginning of February.

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