“Les Etoiles des Pau” literally translates to “The Stars of Pau,” and those stars aligned today for Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda. A seamless, expressive dressage test secured them a score of 42.6, good for ninth place heading into cross-country tomorrow.
Jennie knew that “Ping,” owned by Tim and Nina Gardner, had a brilliant four-star test in him — they’ve been
knocking attempting to kick the door in on it for some quite some time. Today it finally swung wide open when the pair strung together enough 7s and 8s (and a 9 for one flying change!) to break into Pau’s top 10.
Jennie must have known how special it was while cantering up the final centerline, because as soon as she completed the requisite sign-off salutes, she dropped the reins and gave credit where credit was due.
We caught up with an emotional Jennie afterward to recap her test and collect her thoughts on Pierre Michelet’s cross-country course:
Jennie and Ping got here thanks to a free overseas flight from the Dutta Corp they won at Fair Hill CCI3* last year coupled with a Land Rover Competition Grant. It’s rewarding to see incentives like these paying off in a super performance on the international stage that might not otherwise have been possible.
There are five North Americans representing at Pau this weekend. Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master and Lillian Heard and Share Option took their turns in the sandbox yesterday — if you missed it, you can check out our recap of their rides here along with video interviews.
The next American pair in the ring today after Jennie was Katie Ruppel and Houdini, who had a lovely, flowing test aside from an expensive lead swap in the counter-canter. She was kicking herself a bit about that afterward — so frustrating! — but it wasn’t enough to cloud her excitement about their first overseas event and this horse’s potential.
Last to go were Barb Crabo and Eveready, who are also staring down the barrel of their first event abroad. I wasn’t able to catch up with Barb after her test, as it looked like “Ready” drew the random drug test card, but I imagine she emerged from the ring in a similar frame of mind as Katie.
They too had one costly “oopsie” when Ready’s hindlegs didn’t quite get the memo that there was a flying change happenings. Regardless of marks on a page, Pau marks a pinnacle moment in this pair’s 16-year relationship. Ready is a homebred that Barb brought along from the beginning, and to be performing now on one of the event world’s most competitive stages — that’s the kind of thing you can’t assign a number from one to 10!
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda: 9th (42.6)
Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master: 21st (48.6)
Katie Ruppel and Houdini: 23rd (49.3)
Lillian Heard and Share Option: 34th (53.5)
Barb Crabo and Eveready: 38th (54.2)
Pau CCI4* top 15 after dressage:
Cross-country begins tomorrow at 2 p.m. local time — that’s 8 a.m. EST, which means you don’t even have to get up too early to catch the live stream!
Team Canamerica/Americanada ride times:
Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master: 2:28 p.m. local time (8:28 a.m. EST)
Lillian Heard and Share Option: 2:32 p.m. local time (8:32 a.m. EST)
Jennie Brannigan and Cambalda: 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. EST)
Katie Ruppel and Houdini: 4:20 p.m. local time (10:20 a.m. EST)
Barb Crabo and Eveready: 4:40 p.m. local time (10:40 a.m. EST)