Olympic gold medallist Leslie Law (pictured) heads the British contingent who are arriving in Pau, France, today (Tuesday 19 October) in preparation for the FEI Eventing World Cup final this weekend.
Leslie is well placed to make a bid for the title on Coup de Cour, Ken Scott’s 10-year-old gelding, who was previously ridden by Rebecca Gibbs. It will be the first time the two compete together, but this may turn into an unexpected advantage.
“Because he’s riding on the crest of the wave, Leslie is very confident and the horse is in good form. He knows what to expect when he gets there but no one else knows what to expect from them,” says Winnie Murphy of British Eventing. “And by riding a new horse, he has the pressure of being Olympic champion taken off him.”
Polly Stockton and Sir Lancelot VI are also a relatively unknown quantity. Polly rode David and Jane Tolley’s 12-year-old gelding for the first time this season and “they have had mixed results,” according to Murphy.
Olympic individual bronze-medallist Pippa Funnell will ride her Blenheim-winner Viceroy II, owned by Lizzie and Susan Bunn, while Zara Phillips will pair with Ben Walden’s Springleeze Macaroo. “Zara and her horse have consistently been in the top 15 this season,” says Murphy.
The quartet set out from Britain on Monday 18 October. Pippa and Zara left together and Polly Stockton picked up Leslie Law at the medal award ceremony, which finally drew the curtain on the Olympic chaos.
“Our riders got the correct medals after the parade in London,” says Murphy. “I’m sure they are all happy it’s all finally resolved. It brings the whole thing to a complete close. It’s gone – but probably not forgotten.”
With the right medals in their pockets and the Athens judging debacle finally behind them, the British team are bullish. “They are definitely setting out to have a real go at [the World Cup],” says Murphy.
Meanwhile, British riders had a somewhat disappointing result at the World Breeding Championship, a showcase for six- and seven-year-old horses which took place at Le Lion d’Angers, France, last weekend (14-17 October). A knocked pole in the show jumping round brought Karen Dixon and Smart Enough down from second to fifth position in the seven-year-olds’ CCI**, which was won by France’s Nicolas Touzaint with Joker D’helby. After Karen, Nigel Taylor was the best placed British rider, coming 14th with Nordic Gent.