Bringing Up Baby: All Accepted at Le Lion d’Angers First Horse Inspections

Kitty King presents 2018’s Six-Year-Old World Champion, Cristal Fontaine, for this year’s seven-year-old class. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

It’s all well and good chasing the best horses and the best riders around the world once they’ve already established themselves, but there’s nothing quite like the thrill of spotting a great horse in the early stages of its career and watching it flourish at the top level. Therein lies the game at Le Lion d’Angers, the WBFSH Eventing World Breeding Championship in the Loire Valley, France. Partly a battle of the studbooks and partly a way to pick out the six- and seven-year-old stars of the future, Le Lion has established itself as one of the highlights of the autumn international calendar.

This year is no exception: the CCI2*-L for six-year-olds features 42 competitors across 19 nations, while the CCI3*-L for seven-year-olds fields an impressive 67 combinations representing 15 nations.

The competition was set in motion this afternoon at the first horse inspections, presided over by two separate ground juries. Tim Downes (GBR), Xavier Le Sauce (FRA), and Katrin Eichinger-Kniely (AUT) looked after the six-year-olds, while Annabel Scrimgeour (GBR), Stuart Bissell (NZL), and Eric Lieby (FRA) cast their experienced eyes over the seven-year-olds.

There was certainly plenty to keep them busy. Baby horses, after all, will be baby horses, and a stiff breeze, a steady autumnal rain, and the inexplicable drive-by of a truck full of plastic cows was just enough to blow a few brains. Sometimes trotting up a horse looks like rather a civilised activity. Sometimes, it looks like this:

Bless. Their. Hearts.

Two horses were held, and then passed upon re-presentation: Caroline Powell‘s Rock Midnight was the sole hold in the six-year-old section, while Tom Carlile, who is based at the venue’s equestrian centre, went to the hold box with his seven-year-old Cestuy la de l’Esques. 

Tim Lips has a bad time at the trot-up. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Truly sodden: Ingrid Klimke sums up how everyone feels at Le Lion. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Karim Florent Laghouag shelters from the elements under Chaman Ginn. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

The assembled also had to deal with some of the most miserable weather we’ve ever had to cope with at Le Lion, and although some fell foul of the elements – spare a thought for poor Tim Lips, who took the brunt of a leak in the roof to his well-coiffed mane – France’s Karim Florent Laghouag had the right idea, hiding for cover underneath Chaman Ginn.

Liz Halliday-Sharp and Cooley Moonshine (USA). Photo by Tilly Berendt.

We’ve got one US representative in situ here in Le Lion, and she’s got two rides: Liz Halliday-Sharp will pilot Cooley Moonshine, last year’s dressage and cross-country leader in the CCI2*-L, and Flash Cooley in the seven-year-old class.

Dressage commences tomorrow at 9.00 a.m. local time/8.00 BST/3.00 a.m. Eastern time, with half the six-year-olds performing their tests in the morning and half the seven-year-olds following suit in the afternoon. You can find links to ride times in our link footer below. We’ll be back tomorrow with a full report from day one, packed to the rafters with insight into the breeding of these young superstars – but in the meantime, enjoy a bumper edition of the trot-up gallery. Preferably in the comfort of your warm, dry home.

Go eventing!

Le Lion d’Angers: Website, Entries and Ride Times (CCI2*-L), Entries and Ride Times (CCI3*-L), EN’s Coverage, EN’s TwitterEN’s Instagram

The Six-Year-Olds:

The Seven-Year-Olds: