Pau horse trials: Britain’s Sarah Bullimore pulls off career best

  • Gwendolen Fer has become the first French female rider to win Pau CCI4*, with Great Britain’s Sarah Bullimore pulling off the best top-level result of her career in second place aboard her husband Brett and Chris and Sue Gillespie’s Reve Du Rouet.

    Gwendolen, 31, pipped Sarah by a mere 0.1 of a penalty after both riders produced perfect clear showjumping rounds.

    Astier Nicolas, the overnight leader, dropped to sixth when Molakai kicked out three showjumps.

    Sarah had no fences in hand when she cantered into the main arena for the final time on Reve Du Rouet. She had ridden her other two horses earlier in the day, running out of order due to them all being inside the top 10 after yesterday’s cross-country phase. Rolled poles left both horses just outside the top 10, Valentino V finishing 11th and Lilly Corinne 13th.

    “Reve Du Rouet has always been a good showjumper, but he’s genuinely scared of crowds and he can have a wobble,” said Sarah. “I’ve always believed in him — this is all just sinking in at the moment.”

    Gwendolen was a part of the French squad at this year’s European Championships and in 2015. She is the third French rider to take the title in a row.

    “I’m on my own little cloud at the moment. I’ve dreamed of winning a four-star but to turn it into a reality — it’s still sinking in,” she said.

    From 39 starters 11 horses pulled off penalty-free showjumping rounds. Five of these were from the final top five, with France’s Cedric Lyard posting a confident clear aboard Qatar Du Puech Rouget to finish third.

    This was ahead of Australia’s Sammi Birch on Hunter Valley II. This is Sammi’s first four-star appearance in 10 years due to a lack of horsepower.

    “I’m ecstatic,” said Sammi, a mother-of-one who is based in Cirencester. “I came looking for a completion to see if I’m still good enough at this level, but quietly hoping for a top 10 placing.”

    Britain’s Alex Bragg finished fifth aboard Zagreb for the second year running.

    “This is another great double clear at this level for him,” said Alex of his 13-year-old KWPN who is owned by Sally Ellicot. “Everyone wants to win and we’ll go home, analyse a few little things that we can change and hopefully become better, but overall I’m happy.”

    Zenshera rolled one showjump to carry Ros Canter into seventh — two places better than their Luhmuhlen finish in June this year.

    “He wouldn’t have the best showjumping record and would have one down, particularly at this level and in this sort of environment, but he’s been mega this week,” smiled Ros.

    Antipodeans filled the rest of the top 10, Sam Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh) and Emma McNab (Fernhill Tabasco) taking eighth and ninth.

    New Zealand’s Jonelle Price, back competing at this level for the first time since having her first baby in August, took 10th aboard her Rio Olympics partner Faerie Dianimo.

    See the full leaderboard here.

    Don’t miss the full Pau report in next week’s H&H, on sale Thursday 2 November.

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