Tom McEwen clinched his first CCI5* win at Pau, France, with an outstanding showjumping clear round on Toledo De Kerser.
The British pair, part of the gold medal-winning team at the World Equestrian Games in 2018, led throughout this finale of the European eventing season. They only added 0.8 of a cross-country time-fault to their dressage score of 24.9 and were faultless in the final phase to post an impressive victory and claim the €35,000 first prize.
Tom said: “He’s a super French-bred horse who jumps like an aeroplane – there was nothing to worry about apart from me making a mistake.
“I know everyone says their horses deserve a win, but he really does. I’m super-lucky to have him – he’s a mega horse.”
The 12-year-old son of Diamant De Semilly, owned by Fred and Penny Barker, Jane Inns and Ali McEwen, missed the European Championships after falling over at home and scraping his side. This result will have put them firmly back in the spotlight for Olympic selection.
Tom had two fences in hand as he entered the arena; Britain’s Alexander Bragg and Zagreb, second overnight, had two poles down for eventual fourth place, and Australian duo Chris Burton and Quality Purdey knocked one fence, which meant they took second on a score of 33.8.
Another Australian, Shane Rose, finished third on 13-year-old Virgil with a clear showjumping round.
“Just over a week ago he tied up a bit after a gallop while we were at Le Lion d’Angers,” said Shane. “It’s been an amazing team effort to get him through and he has performed so well.”
Alex, fifth here in 2016 and 2017 with Philip and Sally Ellicott’s 16-year-old Zagreb, said: “He was jumping so well – it was a shock that he had the first one down [a green and white vertical at fence nine] and then I think I tried to help him in front at the last and he hit it behind. But consistency-wise he’s brilliant and I am very proud of him.”
Ros Canter had warned that Zenshera could showjump “by Braille” and she also had two fences down – the third and the second-last – to finish fifth, one place ahead of the extravagant mare Ascona M and Tim Price.
A horse tried to jump a high palisade wall when the rider lost control after continuing round the course when
A third Australian, Kevin McNab, took seventh on CCI5* debutant Scuderia 1918 Don Quidam with a fence down and 1.6 time-faults. And the German multiple medallist Andreas Dibowski brought 16-year-old FRH Butts Avedon’s top-level career to an end with eighth place, knocking one pole down and collecting 1.6 time-faults.
Mathieu Lemoine was the best-placed French competitor in ninth on Tzinga D’Auzay. All the French riders wore orange armbands to honour their countryman Thibault Fournier, winner of this event last year, who suffered a head injury in a fall at Pompadour recently.
Two more British riders finished inside the top 15. Sarah Way and the 15.1hh Dassett Cooley Dun were 10th with one fence down, and Izzy Taylor and Call Me Maggie May were 11th with four jumping faults and 0.4 of a time-fault.
Don’t miss the full Pau report in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 31 October