The northern hemisphere’s 2004 eventing season concludes this weekend with the second running of World Cup CIC*** final, which is held in the French Pyrenees at Pau once again.
The organisers might have hoped for a bigger field than 47 riders, but 16 nations are represented, including the reigning World Cup holder, Sweden’s Linda Algotsson, this time riding My Fair Lady.
One horse has been flown all the way from Australia — Sonja Johnson with Ringwould Jaguar — there are three from the States (the fourth, James Moore’s Grieko was sadly spun at the first horse inspection) and New Zealander Matthew Grayling opted to keep his Olympic team horse Revo in work in England after Athens.
Britain, determined to score a better result than in 2003 when none of the squad finished the competition, has fielded a strong quartet, headed by Pippa Funnell on Sue and Lizzie Bunn’s Viceroy.
The stallion has an impressive three-star record, including victory at Blenheim last month. And Pippa has a good Pau record – she won her second European Championship title here in 2001 on Supreme Rock and the following year captured the three-day event on Cornerman.
Leslie Law, the newly crowned Olympic champion, makes his first competitive appearance on an exciting new partner, Keith Scott’s striking black horse Coup de la Cour, a ride Leslie only picked up last month. The horse was previously ridden by Rebecca Gibbs and was impressive when finishing 11th at Saumur in May.
Two new and successful partnerships formed only this year, Polly Stockton, riding David Tolley’s Sir Lancelot, a recent winner of the CIC** at Martinvast, and Zara Phillips on Ben Walden’s Springleaze Macaroo, complete the foursome.
The new short-format three-day events, which began at Blenheim in September, mean that horses can make far more frequent international appearances, which has fulfilled at least one aim both of the short-format concept and of the World Cup series.
Several horses in the field competed at Blenheim, six weeks ago, and at Boekelo, which was only a fortnight ago. New Zealander Andrew Nicholson’s Flush Banker has recently been placed at Blenheim and Boekelo, and Pia Pantsu’s Ypaja Karuso, a disappointing absentee from Athens due to a loading accident, was fifth in Boekelo only two weeks ago.
First into the dressage arena tomorrow are Germany’s Kai Ruder on Kyneally Bay.