First-timer leads the French charge in Badminton dressage: ‘I lunged him to help his nerves’

  • Gireg le Coz has posted the only sub-30 score so far from the French contingent in the Badminton Horse Trials dressage. He rides Aisprit De La Loge at the event presented by Mars Equestrian. They scored 26.7 to move into 11th place at lunchtime on the second day, just ahead of Brits Pippa Funnell (Billy Walk On) and Emily King (Valmy Biats).

    Gireg, who is based at Le Lion d’Angers, produced a smart and consistent test on the 12-year-old, scoring plenty of eights and even a nine for the extended canter and final halt. The rein-back was the only blip, being a little quick.

    “This is his personal best and his first five-star so I’m very happy,” said the 33-year-old. “He has been very tense over the past few days, and I was worried so I decided to lunge him before his test to help his nerves and then he felt with me.”

    Gireg’s compatriots had mixed results. The prolific rider Thomas Carlile was also contesting his first five-star, and was satisfied with his 10-year-old ride Zanzibar Villa Rose Z, who belongs to Olympic bronze medallist Vassily De Lassos’ former owner Philippe Lacaze.

    “It’s both of our first five-stars – somehow I’ve never managed to keep a horse long enough to run at this level,” said Thomas, 34, who posted 32.7 to sit in mid-division.

    “We bought Zanzibar as a five-year-old and so far no one has bought him so we’ll keep the journey going. I liked the stamp of the horse and thought he had Badminton written all over him. He was a late starter, a bit juvenile in the head and physically so he only started to be competitive as a nine-year-old.”

    Badminton Horse Trials dressage: ‘I’ll enjoy the cross-country more’

    Arthur Duffort and Maxime Livio both had to ride with the utmost tact on two tense horses to post the bottom scores thus far, 39.8 and 40.5.

    “He’s not fresh, he’s genuinely scared and always reacts to atmosphere,” said Arthur of Toronto D’Aurois, a 15-year-old by Polack II, who scored 39.8 to take 78th at the conclusion of this phase. “But I will enjoy the cross-country more than the dressage; he has lots of experience.”

    Maxime was also sanguine about the performance of his huge Lando gelding, Vitorio Du Montet, who are 79th . His owner wanted a top-class horse but on a small budget, and Maxime said that they had to compromise on his dressage ability.

    “We found a great cross-country horse but we knew we had to manage the rest,” said Maxime, 34, who has steered the 13-year-old to two top-10 finishes at Pau. “His best quality is his mind. He’s an incredible friend who wants to work for you every day.

    “Dressage isn’t easy for him and I can’t warm up as the more I practise the worse he gets, so I had to warm up an hour before and then just walk him up here. I am used to being not too disappointed because we can only do our best, the atmosphere is really uncomfortable for him.

    “I’d always like a harder cross-country track for him, but it’s hard enough. It’s a course for brave horses and mine is so brave.”

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