French eventers rule at Le Lion D’Angers

  • The home side dominates at Le Lion D’Angers, while Mary King is best of the British

    With French eventing on a roll after triumphing at WEG, a new generation impressed at the CCI**competition for seven-year-olds at Le Lion d’Angers, France.

    Rising star Nicolas Touzaint, the 23-year-old nephew of France’s inspiring team trainer Thierry Touzaint, won his third successive title, this time with Girard Claudon’s strapping Selle Francais, Hildago De L’IIle, third in the CIC* last year.

    During a stylish round in which he was one of the few to take the bounce option into the first water, Touzaint added just two cross-country time-faults to his fourth-placed dressage score of 42.2 and held his minuscule overnight lead with a clear in the show jumping phase.

    “I didn’t have a bad jump,” he said, “but I was apprehensive because I had a hard fall at Boekelo last weekend [from Galan De Savagere] and so I am relieved and pleased to have had such a good ride.”

    Runner-up was compatriot Karim Laghouag on Histoire De Triballe, last year’s CIC* winner. However, the manner in which Laghouag completed both jumping phases was rather less stylish than the winner’s.

    In third was Thierry Meyssonnier, a doctor, riding the home-bred Helicine, whose dam Quebrada Delebarre was ridden by him into 23rd place at Burghley in 1995.

    Clayton Fredericks, representing Australia, was best of the cross-Channel travellers, fourth on his dressage score of 49.8, on the Hong Kong Boys’ The Frog.

    In fifth place and flying the SHB (GB) flag – the only one inthe top 20 – was former junior European Champion for Italy Vittoria Panizzon on Rock Model, bred by Sarah Bullen by Rock King.

    Best of the British

    Britain fielded an unusually underpowered contingent, possibly due, in the opinion of chef d’equipe Kenneth Clawson, to the knock-on effect of an FMD-decimated season in 2001 on young horses’ development.

    Mary King (pictured) was best Brit, 11th on an unfortunate dressage score of 58.4 on Gill Robinson’s Irish-bred King George, whom Mary describes as “one for the future. He’s careful, but forward going. We made the time easily without pushing and he has never had a show jump down.

    The dressage will probably take a couple of years to come. He is built a little downhill, so this phase will be difficult, but Ferdi Eilberg is hopeful that he will improve in the same way as Star Appeal did.”

    George ballooned the first few fences and Mary was nearly unseated at fence three, but thereafter she had the bay gelding by Master Imp galloping and jumping with confidence.

    The experienced Jayne Wilson crowned a consistent year with 13th place and a clear show jumping on Carole Kemp’s useful Griffin. Nick Gauntlett, 21st on the Irish-bred Calibre, also show jumped clear.

    The Horse Trials Support Group scholar, Chris King, was ruing one show jumping time-penalty on the unusually marked GNC Contract Services’s Peaceful Warrior. This skewbald has plenty of quality, and his happy cross-country round, with ears constantly pricked and a confident, rhythmic gallop, was perhaps the most pleasing of the day.

    William Fox-Pitt retired Springleaze Royalist when he took a major dislike to a fountain in the first water. Leslie Law, seventh on Last Angel, had a run-out at the new corner, as did Austin O’Connor on the stallion Primmore’s Pioneer, who had to be nursed home after bloodying his nose at the coffin.

    Christie Lomax fell when Euro Disney tripped in the second water and Graham Law (Tax Haven) and Dag Albert (The Battle) fell at the next fence.

    Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (31 October), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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