Pau Horse Trials, more correctly known as Les Etoiles de Pau CCI5*, is the only five-star event held in France. It marks the end of the European eventing season at five-star level and it is a popular choice for British event riders.
Pau is a beautiful town on the northern edge of the Pyrenees in the south of France, complete with a castle. There are many good restaurants in the old town.
The competition takes place on a racehorse training facility close to the town. Riders competing at the event have set times when they are allowed to exercise in certain areas in order not to intefere with the racehorses.
The area is quite flat and Olympic course-designer Pierre Michelet makes the most of man-made mounds to make the cross-country course more interesting and challenging for horse and rider.
Pau Horse Trials has been running at five-star (formerly four-star) level since 2007. The first winner of the top-level class at Pau was the home side’s Nicolas Touzaint, on Hildago De L’Ile.
William Fox-Pitt is the only rider who has won Pau five-star twice, in 2011 on Oslo and 2013 on Seacookie. The event’s other British winners at five-star are Tom McEwen (Toledo De Kerser) in 2019 and Laura Collett (London 52) in 2020.
In 2020, Pau hosted the only five-star of the season as the other events were all cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.