French riders take the Saumur spoils

  • The French refused to allow the strong British contingent to have their own way at Saumur over the weekend, taking first and second places in the CCI three-star event and winning in the team competition.

    Ruth Edge (pictured) was Britain’s highest placed rider in third with Two Thyme, helping Britain to secure second place in the team event. Edge had looked on form to split Jean-Lou Bigot, who led from start to finish, and the eventual second placed Nicolas Touzaint, but an unfortunate 12 faults in the final phase dropped her down from second to third.

    Two Thyme produced an outstanding dressage performance to sit second on 41.30, just behind Bigot on 40.40 after the opening phase, while Touzaint was snapping at their heels on 44.80 in third. Pippa Funnell was also well placed after dressage with Cornerman in fifth on 48.30.

    Cross-country day saw a total of 50 clear rounds, eight inside the time, including double clears from the top three riders, to leave Edge in second with just the show jumping to come. Strong performances around the short-format course saw a number of riders jump up the leader board, including Didier Dhennin of France, who leapt from 27th after dressage to eighth after cross-country and Britain’s Matthew Wright, who improved from 22nd to ninth.

    The final day’s show jumping proved influential, although the on-form Bigot was more than up to the task, jumping clear to finish on his dressage score and win the Saumur title. Two fences down by Touzaint’s Hildado de I’lle appeared to give Edge some breathing space, but a disappointing 12 faults for the British rider gifted second place to the reigning European champion.

    The final top 10 was a purely Anglo/French affair with six French riders to Britain’s four. Pippa Funnell went clear cross-country, but picked up a couple of time penalties and had one show jump down to finish sixth with Cornerman. Good performances in both jumping phases by Matthew Wright and Cermont saw them leap from 22nd after dressage to finish equal seventh alongside Pascale Boutet, while Christie Wright and Euro Disney were the final British pair inside the top 10.

    Ruth Edge’s performance with Two Thyme proved vitally important in the team competition as her fellow team members had a less successful time. Pippa Funnell was 12th after dressage with her second ride Ensign, but dropped down to 18th after surviving a hairy moment on the cross-county when her mount left a leg at the first element of the water at fence six. Matthew Wright’s Park Pilot finished 15th despite having a fall on the flat, while Francis Whittington moved up from 66th after dressage to finish in 25th place with one of the best cross-country performances at the event.

  • Mary King has decided to retire King Solomon from competition after the 17-year-old had problems at the challenging water fence at fence six. This outstanding partnership began back in 1993 at novice level and during its lifetime accomplished wins at Blenheim in 1996 and Saumur in 1997. “Solly” was fifth at his first four-star at Burghley in 1999 and went on to be fourth in 2001, third in 2002, and fourth at Badminton in 2003. The partnership represented Britain at the Athens Olympic last year, where they were placed 20th overall.

    Individual results

    1. Derby de Longueval (Jean-Lou Bigot) FRA 40.40;
    2. Hildago de I’lle (Nicolas Touzaint) FRA 52.80;
    3. Two Thyme (Ruth Edge) GBR 53.30;
    4. Expo du Moulin (Arnaud Boiteau) FRA 53.30;
    5. Ismene du Temple (Didier Dhennin) FRA 55.00;
    6. Cornerman (Pippa Funnell) GBR 55,10;
    =7. If You Want II (Pascale Boutet) FRA 55.90;
    =7. Cermont (Matthew Wright) GBR 55.90;
    9. Milcane (Benoit Parent) FRA 56.00;
    10. Euro Disney (Christie Wright) GBR 57.40.

    Team results

    1. France 169.10;
    2. Britain 188.30;
    3. Sweden 243.00.

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