Top horse retires after successfully defending gold at WEG: ‘He is an absolute warrior’

A horse who has won two world and one European gold medal retired last week at the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Tryon, USA.

Poivre Vert, who is 15 years old, was the gold medal-winning horse in the individual male category in the Christie’s International Real Estate vaulting at this WEG with Lambert Leclezio of France. Back in 2014 at the WEG in Caen, the horse was the winning partner of another French vaulter, Jacques Ferarri, with whom he also won European gold in 2013. Poivre Vert has been lunged throughout his international career by François Athimon.

“I have had him for 10 years and he is an absolute warrior. He is mentally very strong and the most incredible horse — unbelievably reliable,” said François.

Lambert said: “I had the honour to finish his career. He is an amazing horse and by far the best I have competed with. I spent one year with him, it was short but really intense.”

In vaulting, the horse is marked as well as the vaulter, plus a vaulter can perform better on a more reliable horse, so the horse is a vital part of success in the sport.

This year’s WEG featured a nations team vaulting competition for the first time, with the top honours going to Germany. The team comprised individual female Kristina Boe, individual male Jannik Heiland and the German squad, Team Norka des VV Koeln-Dunnewald.

Kristina Boe also landed the individual female individual gold medal, working with lunger Winnie Schlüter and horse Don De La Mar. She now holds the European, World Cup and World Championship titles.

“As a result of the new nations team championships, it is the first time that it is possible to win two medals for an individual. To come away from Tryon with two gold medals makes me speechless and more than grateful,” said Kristina.

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German domination continued in the squad championship when they took the gold, lunged by Patric Looser — the individual male world champion in Kentucky in 2010 — and with their horse Danny Boy. Their “Now You See Me freestyle” was laced with big lifts and eye-catching dismounts.

There was a form turnaround in the pas de deux when the Austrian pair, Jasmin Lindner and Lukas Wacha (lunged by Klaus Haidacher on Dr Doolittle 5), who won gold at the last WEG, were overtaken by Italians Silvia Stopazzini and Lorenzo Lupacchini (lunged by Laura Carbanuci on Rosenstolz 99), in the final freestyle.

British results

The English Vaulting Squad in action at WEG 2018, with their horse Demezza, lunged by Julie Newell

Britain fielded two individual female vaulters, Lucy Phillips, lunged by Julie Newell on Ben Aucott’s Demezza, and Rebecca Norval on Deborah Bentzen’s Edinburgh 23, lunged by Saacha de Amborossio. Lucy lay 20th and Rebecca 26th after the first freestyle, so they did not progress to the technical test and second freestyle, which only the top 15 contest.

Lucy said: “I had a few challenges, but I felt like I got over them; I’m happy with the score and the end result and I have really enjoyed the experience.”

Rebecca, a WEG debutante, said: “The horse was quite unsettled, so I did adapt it and change it around a bit but overall I was really happy with it.”

The English Vaulting Squad also competed, again lunged by Julie on Demezza. The squad finished eighth overall.

Team member Ricky Davies said after their final freestyle: “We felt that was much better than the first round. We all relaxed and got into the routine and performed it well. The atmosphere was louder today but we had a lot of time to relax before we went in and I think we did really well; the crowd really showed their appreciation in there.”

Lunger Julie Newell added: “I am so proud of them. This has been three-and-a-half years of real hard work and I am very, very pleased with how we performed.”

Lucy, Rebecca and the English Vaulting squad also combined to contest the nations team competition, in which they finished seventh.

Julie said: “Today’s been brilliant; we’ve had a great time and it’s been fantastic to be here with all the other disciplines. It’s educated the children so much, to be able to see all the other combinations competing.”

More news from WEG in the Horse & Hound magazine issues dated 20 and 27 September.

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