This week’s Pau Horse Trials is the 14th 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, 2007-2019
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 is the sire of William’s current five-star ride Oratorio.
2012: Andrew Nicholson (New Zealand) and Nereo
Pau’s only Antipodean winner so far 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 four other championship medals, including world individual bronze and Olympic team silver. He has won 16 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 three times at CIC3*/CCI4*-L level.
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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. Siniani De Lathus has not competed since.
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. The defending champions return to Pau this year to try to reclaim their title.
Pictures by Phil Mingo, trevor-meeks-photography.co.uk, Peter Nixon and Libby Law Photography
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