Michael Jung is still leading Les Etoiles de Pau CCI4* at the conclusion of dressage, though today he’s topping the leaderboard on a different horse. fischerTakinou, a 9-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding making his first four-star start, delivered a 39.3 — the only score in the 30s — to sit in first place going into cross country.
“He is a very talented horse and always good in the dressage,” Michael said after his test. “He concentrates just as well whether he is at home or at a competition.” fischerTakinou was Michael’s first choice for the Olympics, but the gelding missed the trip due to a tick infection. (Of course, Michael still won anyways with La Biosthetique Sam FBW.)
While fischerTakinou is making his CCI4* debut at Pau, his wealth of experience at the three-star level makes him a serious threat to take the win this weekend. Michael has never won Pau, and with reigning European champion fischerTakinou coming off a strong win in the Aachen CICO3* this summer, he’s more than capable of stepping up tomorrow over Pierre Michelet’s beefy track.
Michael is also sitting in fourth place with yesterday’s leader fischerRocana FST, whose score of 43.8 is well off her usual four-star average in dressage but still has her well within striking distance.
Like yesterday, two British riders are challenging Michael at the top of the leaderboard, though there was a changing of the guard today. Part-time farrier Alexander Bragg and Zagreb, a 12-year-old Dutch gelding, are looking to complete their first CCI4* after re-routing from Burghley and scored a personal best of 43.2 to sit in second place after dressage.
“My main aim was an accurate test, so I am pretty happy right now,” Alexander said. “Zagreb is improving on the flat all the time and is more composed in his flying changes.”
Nicola Wilson and One Two Many, who served as the traveling reserve combination for Team GB at the Rio Olympic Games, scored 43.6 in third place. Karin Donckers and Fletcha Van’t Verahof round out the top five for Belgium on 43.9.
Boyd Martin, our sole U.S. rider competing at Pau, sat in fourth place yesterday after Lucy Boynton Lie’s Crackerjack delivered a personal best of 47.7, and they are now in 10th place a the conclusion of dressage. Click here to read Boyd’s comments about Crackerjack’s test.
His second ride, Craig and Gloria Callen’s Welcome Shadow, made her four-star debut today, scoring 51.9 to sit in 25th place. “She’d been working really well all week, and I was getting excited about her test. She got a little bit tense and nervous when she got in the ring and got a bit curled in her frame and fell behind a little bit,” Boyd said.
“She didn’t make any big mistakes. She was green and felt like it for her first four-star test in a ring with that type of atmosphere. Scoring a 52 for her first four-star is a score to be proud of, and looking at the course we’re facing tomorrow, I think it’s going to be anyone’s day.”
After last year’s cross country rode a bit soft, Pierre has dialed up the level of difficulty this year. Riders are chattering about the untimely return of the infamous fish, which proved to be so influential on Pierre’s 2014 World Equestrian Games course. Time is also expected to be very tight on the twisty, technical track.
“It’s been pouring with rain for the last 24 hours, so the ground could get quite heavy and deep,” Boyd said. “The time is going to be incredibly hard to make. It’s a big, tough, technical cross country. I’ve got a mission ahead of me, but both my horses are good cross country horses and good gallopers. I’ve got them very fit.”
You can watch cross country live on FEI TV tomorrow starting at 7:50 a.m. EST at this link. Show jumping will also be shown live on FEI TV on Sunday. Keep it locked on EN for everything you need to know from Pau.