Previous winners of Pau Horse Trials: Olympic medallists, the sire of a five-star horse and a French female first

  • This month’s Pau Horse Trials is the 15th running of the French event at five-star (formerly four-star) level. Many of the former Pau Horse Trials winners have been – or have gone on to become – legends in the sport of eventing.

    Let’s take a look back at them…

    Pau Horse Trials winners, 2007-2022

    2007: Nicolas Touzaint (France) and Hildago De L’Ile

    The first winners of Pau as a top-level event, a popular victory for the home side. Nicolas went on to become the first French winner of Badminton, piloting Hildago De L’Ile to take the British spring classic in 2008. Hildago De L’Ile was a team silver medallist at the 2005 Blenheim Europeans – although with a fall across country they were the discard score – and he closed out his career by being Nicolas’ ride at the 2012 London Olympics.

    2008: Bettina Hoy (Germany) and Ringwood Cockatoo

    This was Bettina and Ringwood Cockatoo’s second top-level win, after victory at Luhmühlen in 2005. They were also prolific winners at three-star (now four-star level) and successful championship performers, taking team gold at the 2006 World Equestrian Games, team bronze at the 2005 European Championships and individual bronze at the 2007 Europeans – as well, of course, as being stripped of their double gold medals at the 2004 Olympics after it was discovered Bettina had crossed the start line twice. After Pau, the pair were second at the US flagship event at Kentucky in 2009 before the horse retired from eventing, going on to compete in dressage with Claire Llewellyn until he was 25.

    2009: Dirk Schrade (Germany) and King Artus

    Not the highest profile Pau Horse Trials winner, but King Artus was consistently placed at three-star (now four-star) level before and after his Pau win. He was fourth as an individual at the 2011 European Championships and a team gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics. King Artus’s story had a sad end when he collapsed and died after finishing second at Wiesbaden in 2013.

    2010: Andreas Dibowski (Germany) and FRH Fantasia

    Again, one of Pau’s less well known winners. FRH Fantasia was a team gold medallist at the 2011 Europeans a year after Pau, although she was eliminated so not a counting score. She finished her career doing a season with Korean rider Sangwuk Song and the pair were team and individual gold medallists at the Asian Games.

    2011: William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain) and Oslo

    A six-year-old winner and seven-year-old runner-up at Le Lion, Oslo was also the winner of Tattersalls CCI3* (now CCI4*-L) and the eight- and nine-year-old class at Blenheim in the same year he won Pau. His career peaked here, though, as injury meant he did not compete consistently afterwards, although he did complete Badminton 2013. Oslo started his competition career as a stallion and semen was taken from him and frozen before he was cut; he was the sire of William’s five-star ride Oratorio.

    2012: Andrew Nicholson (New Zealand) and Nereo

    Pau’s first Antipodean winner and a hugely successful combination. By the time of his Pau win, Nereo had already given Andrew his first individual championship medal – a bronze to match a team gong of the same colour at the 2010 World Equestrian Games. He was a team bronze medallist and fourth individually at London 2012 in the summer before Pau and later provided Andrew with a long-awaited Badminton win in 2017. He was also second at Burghley three times and finished in the top 12 at Badminton on four other occasions.

    2013: William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain) and Seacookie TSF

    A successful top-level campaigner who was also second and eighth at Burghley and second, sixth and ninth at Kentucky, as well as winning Blenheim. He retired from eventing soon after his Pau win, following the 2014 season. William is the only rider who has won Pau more than once.

    2014: Ingrid Klimke (Germany) and SAP Hale Bob OLD

    It is extraordinary that Pau was Ingrid’s first five-star victory, despite her many top placings through a long and illustrious career; she made it two when she won Luhmühlen the following season on SAP Escada FRH. SAP Hale Bob OLD has a superb record alongside his Pau win – he was European champion in 2017 and 2019 and is the winner of five other championship medals, including world individual bronze and Olympic team silver. He has won 18 times at international level in all.

    2015: Astier Nicolas (France) and Piaf De B’Neville

    The first home side Pau Horse Trials winner since Nicolas Touzaint won the inaugural running, but he started a run of French wins at the event. Piaf De B’Neville had already won the under-25s at Bramham and been ninth at Badminton by the time of his Pau win and he capped it with individual silver and team gold at the Rio Olympics less than a year later.

    2016: Maxime Livio (France) and Qalao Des Mers

    A victory at Pau firmly put to rest the fact Maxime and Qalao Des Mers were until this point most famous for being disqualified from the 2014 World Equestrian Games. They also achieved two seconds on their two four-star (now five-star) runs either side of Pau, Luhmühlen 2016 and Kentucky 2017.

    2017: Gwendolen Fer (France) and Romantic Love

    Gwendolen’s victory made her the first French female rider to win at the top level. The pair were also 16th at Badminton in 2016 and have won four times at CIC3*/CCI4*-L level.

    2018: Thibault Fournier (France) and Siniani De Lathus

    Somewhat surprising winners, who had been second in the under-25s at Bramham earlier that season, but were making their debut at the top level. After two years away from the international eventing fray, Siniani De Lathus returned in 2021 and had two top-10 placings at two- and three-star.

    2019: Tom McEwen (Great Britain) and Toledo De Kerser

    This was the win everyone knew Tom and Toledo had in them and followed three top-11 placings at Badminton, plus world team gold and individual 12th at the World Equestrian Games in 2018. They went on to be members of the British gold medal-winning team at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, where they also took individual silver.

    2020: Laura Collett (Great Britain) and London 52

    This was a first five-star win for Laura, while London 52 was making his debut at the level. He had been a successful horse through the grades, but also made some high-profile mistakes, so the rider was thrilled that her faith in him paid off. The pair were selected as members of the British Olympic team the following year and took home team gold from the Tokyo Games. They also competed at the 2022 World Championships and collected team gold at the 2023 Europeans.

    2021: Tim Price and Falco

    Pau Horse Trials winners:

    Falco delivered victory for Tim on his first time at five-star, while it was the rider’s fourth win at the level. Falco – who is owned by British former championship rider Sue Benson – went on to take individual bronze at the 2022 World Champpionships and lead the Kiwis to team bronze.

    2022: Jonelle Price (New Zealand) and Grappa Nera

    Pau Horse Trials winners: 2022 victors Jonelle Price and Grappa Nera

    Tim Price passed the crown to his wife when Jonelle moved up in the final phase to land the win in 2022, her third at five-star. Grappa Nera did not have a great deal of form coming into the event, but the rider said she had always known the 11-year-old mare was a good horse and it was a case of when she would show that, not if.

    Pictures by Phil Mingo, trevor-meeks-photography.co.uk, Peter Nixon, Nico Morgan and Libby Law Photography

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