Croissants at the Ready – It’s Go at Pau! Live Updates on Dressage Day One at Les 5 Etoiles de Pau

James Avery and Camille Lejeune swap test tactics in arena familiarisation. Or at least, that’s what we hope they’re talking about. Sometimes it’s best not to know. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

So here we are. It’s the final 5* of the season (sniff), but before we hunker down for the winter to watch reruns of the awesome eventing that’s happened in 2023, we get to wrap things up French-style with Les 5 Etoiles de Pau.

With ten nations represented, from four continents, we have some of the best riders in the world waiting in the wings to come out and put their best hoof forward as we get going with the first session of dressage.

Here’s just a few of the nineteen riders we’ll see coming forward today:

🇬🇧 From the British camp we’ll see newly crowned European Champion, Badminton winner and World No. 2 Ros Canter with Pencos Crown Jewel, and multi Olympic, World and European Championship medalist and 5* winner Pippa Funnell with Billy Walk On.

🇫🇷 Home crowd interests today lie with World Championships rider Gaspard Maksud who comes double-handed to Pau. First up he’ll bring forward EquiRatings Horse of the Year 2022 Zaragoza.

🇳🇿 We’ve also got Kiwi eventers extraordinaire Tim and Jonelle Price going this afternoon with the first of each of their two rides.

🇺🇲 If you’re following the US contingent, you’ll have to wait ‘til tomorrow, when all four of the US riders will take to the dressage ring to get their competition underway.

Like I said, that’s just a selection of the talent that’ll be on show at Pau this week! We’re in for a great event, that’s for sure.

I’ll be bringing you live updates of each test – right from the entry up the center line to the final halt, you won’t miss a moment.

This is also our chance to get to know the horses and riders – from recent form and 5* stats to fun and random facts, I’ve got you covered.

If you’re following along live, don’t forget to refresh this page periodically.

Getting us underway this afternoon will be New Zealand’s Jesse Campbell who will bring forward the first of his two rides, Cooley Lafitte for the gelding’s first 5*.

If you’re reading this later, the round-up of Jesse’s test will be at the bottom of this post, so if you’re of the variety that likes to keep things in order, scroll down ⬇️ and read up ⬆️ – if you’re happy to go backwards through the drawn order, then have at it from the top.

I’ll be back with live updates from between the white boards tomorrow at 10am / 4am ET / 9am BST as we wrap up the first phase of the competition – don’t miss it!

EN will be bringing you all of the action over the course of the event, so keep your eyes on – and ears pricked – as we go eventing! We’ve got loads of great IG content happening too @goeventing, and if you want to follow along with the form, you’ll find EN’s 5* Form Guide here.

So, grab some croissants – and maybe a glass (or bottle) of champagne, if that’s your style – and allez eventing! 🥐🍾

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EN’s coverage of Les 5 Etoiles de Pau is brought to you by Kentucky Performance Products.

5:10pm And that’s it for our first day of dressage!

Here’s a quick summary of where things stand:

The clubhouse leader is Tim Price with Viscount Viktor for New Zealand on a score of 28.

Right on his tail, in second is Britain’s Piggy March with Coolparks Sarco on 28.1.

And just 0.2 behind Piggy, rounding out the top 3 is Ros Canter with Pencos Crown Jewel for Great Britain on 28.3.

Not far behind them is Britain’s Pippa Funnell with Billy Walk On – they’re in fourth on a score of 29.6.

And then we have our final rider of the day, Switzerland’s Nadja Minder with Toblerone, whose lovely test earns them fifth overnight with a score of 30.5

Watch out for EN’s full round-up of all the day’s dressage – coming soon!

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I’ll be back in the morning as we get going for a full day’s action from between the white boards at 10am / 4am ET / 9am BST.

🇺🇲 Don’t forget, the American campaign in France gets underway tomorrow with all four of the US riders coming forward for their dressage.

Want a teaser of what we’ve got to look forward to? Well, here you go:

1️⃣ World No. 1, Olympic Team GB gold medalist and Burghley winner Oliver Townend with Tregilder;

🏆 French Olympian and former Pau winner, Maxime Livio brings Carouzo Bois Marotin, who was 7th here last year;

3️⃣ US Olympian, Pan-Ams medalist and two-time 5* winner, World No. 3 Boyd Martin with Fedarman B;

🏆 Britain’s European Champion, Badminton winner and World No. 2 Ros Canter will be back in the ring with her second ride, Izilot DHI;

✨ Seven-time Olympian and Pan-Ams medalist, the USA’s Phillip Dutton with Z;

🥇 French Olympic team gold winner and World Championships team silver medalist Cedric Lyard brings Unum De’Or for the gelding’s fifth 5* start;

✨ British eventing favorite, multi Olympic, World and European Championship medalist and 5* winner Pippa Funnell will be back with her second ride, MCS Maverick;

🥈Britain’s team gold and individual silver Olympic medalist Tom McEwen with Kentucky runner-up JL Dublin;

🇳🇿 And today’s clubhouse leader, Tim Price will be back with the second of his two rides.

Seriously, you don’t want to miss a thing!

Until then, allez eventing!

4:57pm Wrapping things up for us today is Swiss rider Nadja Minder who brings her heart horse Toblerone to Pau for the gelding’s first top-level start.

🍫 Not only does this tasty gelding have a yummy show name, but his stable name is a real treat – I mean, who doesn’t want a little ‘Schoggeli’ (translation: chocolate) in the barn?

Toblerone is Nadja’s Young Riders horse, and now here they are at 5*.

French form – Toblerone obviously has a liking for French soil, with a 3rd place finish in the 4*-S in Jardy in July, where they added just 3.6 cross country time penalties to their dressage of 31.4. They were 2nd in the 3*-L at Lignières last time out, finishing on their dressage of 28.2.

Nadja says Toblerone’s character “is as funny as his name” and he’s “THE rascal” in the barn.

Dressage form 🕺 At 4* they’re regularly in the low-30s, and with no cross country jumping penalties on their record together – plus some speedy runs – they’ll be ones to watch at their first 5* together for sure.

How it feels to represent your country with your heart horse:

Nadja and Toblerone enter dead straight up the center line and stop dead square. Toblerone doesn’t look to be 100% relaxed, but he’s listening to Nadja.

They’re bringing in lots of 7s for the trot work. Toblerone looks very happy in his work and well within himself. He’s relaxing more as this test progresses.

The walk is relaxed and Toblerone is stepping out nicely for Nadja. They score a 7.5 for the extended.

They halt in a very nice frame and score two 7s and a 7.5. The rein back is accurate and they get a clean strike off into canter.

This truly is a partnership who work together brilliantly. There’s such confidence between the horse and rider. The first change is excellent for two 7s and a 7.5.

Everything is so comfortable for this pair and there’s some excellent quality work, particularly in the flying changes – the second one scores an 8.

Toblerone really responds and takes the contact forward in the circle and they’re rewarded with another 8.

Nadja clearly has such confidence in Toblerone and the horse responds in kind. She’s delighted as they halt – and get another 8 – and Toblerone gets a massive scratch. This has been such a pleasure to watch, a lovely partnership on show and a very happy horse and rider. A great way to wrap up the day’s dressage.

Nadja Minder and Toblerone score 30.5.

4:50pm Phil Brown and Harry Robinson are making their Pau debut this week, but have two Burghley starts under their girth.

Note: Phil is the rider 🙋 – Harry is the horse 🐴

They made their 5* debut at Burghley last year, completing in 27th to great celebration at the culmination of a dream come true 🍾

Total kismet ✨ Harry was actually sold for a while, but found his way back to Phil and here they are.

Dressage form 🩰 Dressage is not Harry’s favorite bit – like any eventer worth his salt that’d be cross country, of course. They scored 41.2 at Burghley this season and a 49.9 in their run prior to that. He put down a massive PB at Burghley last year though – 35.3.

Harry (left) and Phil (right) cut quite the dashing picture at the Horse Inspection at Burghley with Phil winning one of the best-dressed riders awards:

Harry and Phil get their test underway. The halt’s not quite square and scores 5.5s, but they move off nicely into trot. Harry looks relaxed in the medium and scores a 7.

The partnership between horse and rider is so obvious with this pair. Harry’s trying his best for Phil and is working in a very relaxed way. There could be more self-carriage, and more bend, but he looks happy in his work and keen to do what he can for Phil.

Harry gets a little tense in the walk, almost jogging but not quite. Phil’s having to ride a little tentatively, or Harry may take himself off to the cross country.

The halt scores two 7s and Harry looks much more comfortable to be in canter. Their work is accurate and clean and is pulling in 6s and 6.5s overall.

Harry obviously finds the flying changes difficult, and the scores drop slightly. They pick back up for the extended canter though. There’s a little too much bend in the circle and then Harry shows what he things of changes for the final one and scores two 5.5s.

They finish up with a big pat for Harry, who looks very pleased with his efforts this afternoon.

Phil Brown and Harry Robinson score 40.3.

4:43pm Fresh from a trip to Maryland, Great Britain’s Piggy March comes to Pau with Coolparks Sarco for the gelding’s 5* debut.

Piggy’s been at the top of the podium at both Badminton and Burghley with her now retired super mare Vanir Kamira, and has represented Great Britain at European and World Championships.

📹 As well as being a busy eventer, she’s the star of Piggy TV, her online training, horse care and rider fitness platform.

‘Jeremy’, as he’s known in the barn, was originally brought out by New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson before British rider Nicola Wilson took over the reins in 2021. Following Nicola’s career-ending accident at Badminton in 2022, Piggy inherited the ride from her friend.

Hot form 🌶️ The pair have had two wins and a third place this season.

Dressage form 👀 Jeremy has had only sub-30 dressage scores since 2020. He posted a 24.6 on his way to winning the 4*-S at Burgham this season, and a 23.2 at Millstreet, where he won the 4*-L.

🩰 Piggy and Jeremy just love to dance:

Piggy March and Coolparks Sarco. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Piggy comes into the ring looking like she means business. They get off to a great start with a super square halt that scores 7.5s across the board.

Jeremy is so relaxed and supple and shows that off with 7.5s for the medium trot. He’s a little spooky by the camera, but doesn’t break his trot and is rewarded with an 8 for the 8m circle.

Piggy pushes for the extended trot and gets an 8. She’s really riding for every single mark, pushing all the way and being really brave.

There are more 8s coming in for this pair.

Jeremy is very relaxed in the walk, but he doesn’t maintain the contact all the time, it’s in and out a little. The scores dip a bit because of it.

He has a little look round in the halt, but scores a 7 and 7.5. The rein back is very good 7.5, 7.5 and 7.

The canter half circle gets 8s across the board, which really does show the quality of their canter work.

Of course, we know that Piggy’s a master in the ring, and she’s showing that in abundance here today. It’s such a pleasure to watch her ride, and Jeremy looks very happy to be working with her. A great picture of a horse and rider working together.

Jeremy anticipates the final change slightly, but they finish up and Piggy is beaming. Jeremy’s had a little look round throughout this test, but stayed relaxed and working with Piggy. This has been a super test overall.

Piggy March and Coolparks Sarco score 28.1. They’re 0.1 behind the current lead and go into 2nd.

4:36pm British eventer Izzy Taylor comes to Pau off the back of winning the six-year-old Young Horse Championship last weekend. She’s here with Happy Days for the gelding’s third 5* start.

Having come here from Le Lion d’Angers, Izzy knew all about the kind of weather they’re having in France and wore her big coat for the Horse Inspection – she’s a wise one!

Well this is a horse whose name just makes you smile 🙂 Will it be happy days for Happy Days at Pau? We hope so!

5* form 🌟 He made his 5* debut here at Pau last season, finishing just outside the top-20. They went to Badminton in the spring but had an unfortunate technical elimination when they jumped a B element twice.

His best result thus far is 4th place in the 4*-S at Burnham Market, where he added just 2 cross country time penalties to his dressage of 30.2.

Dressage form 📈 Happy Days is a high-20s to low-30s kind of horse. He posted a 31.7 here last year and went sub-30 at Badminton with a 29.6.

Team focus:

Happy Days has a happy start with 7s across the board for the halt. The trot is sound initially, and then they get an 8 for the extended which is very impressive.

He loses the bend a little in the lateral work which affects their scores, and it’s the same for the circle.

The walk isn’t super relaxed, it’s fine, but you can tell Happy Days would be happier cantering. He scores 7s and a 7.5 for the medium though.

The halt is very good for two 7s.

The canter work is a little better than the trot work. Happy Days definitely looks more relaxed. They score 7s across the board for the half pass left.

The first flying change gets an 8, 7 and 5.5, the second 7s across the board. They’re very pleasing.

Izzy pushes for the extended canter and is rewarded with an 8.

The final halt is square and Happy Days gets a big pat. Happy Days has shown a glimmer of what’s to come for him, and he’s an exciting horse for the future for sure.

Izzy Taylor and Happy Days score 31.7.

4:28pm British rider Selina Milnes brings Gelmer to Pau for his first 5*.

Selina was dressed very much for the weather at the Horse Inspection in wellies 👢 Good for her!

Horsey family 🐴 Selina is married to an equine vet and her brother is farrier to Team GB.

Dressage form 📋 It’s been a bit of a season of two halves for Selina and Gelmer, with two completions and two withdrawals before cross country. They set out with dressage scores in the low- to mid-30s in the 4*-S at Burgham and Hartpury, but they posted a 40.2 at Blair Castle and 37.2 at Blenheim before calling it a day. Let’s see how things go for them here.

Gelmer looks like a sweet kinda guy:

Selina Milnes and Gelmer. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Gelmer doesn’t quite want to stand square in the halt but he trots off nicely for Selina and looks very light in the contact and rideable as they get their test underway.

This is a very elegant horse, very impressive looking. He’s a little tentative though as he goes around the arena. The contact isn’t always there, which is affecting their marks.

There could be a little more of everything – more bend, more acceptance of the contact – but there’s a lot of potential on show.

The extended walk brings in two 7s, but everything is looking a little tentative. The halt isn’t square behind but it scores a 7 from one judge and two 6s from the others.

The canter work is a similar story to the trot, lots of potential on show but a couple of mistakes. The first change scores 4s across the board, so does the second.

The extended canter is tentative and there’s not a lot of stretch in the circle. The mistakes are really creeping in, he breaks into trot but Selina gets him going again.

Gelmer shows off his own moves rather than halting and they end on 3s across the board, but this horse has clearly got a lot of potential which he did show at some points today. One for the future for sure.

Selina Milnes and Gelmer score 41.6.

4:21pm Getting the final session of today’s dressage underway we have 5* rookie combination, Ireland’s Daragh Byrne and Kilcannon Ramiro who come forward for their first attempt at the level.

Daragh rocked up to the Horse Inspection sockless despite the puddles – coming from Ireland he’ll be used to a bit of rain! He was also sporting ripped jeans – I like your style Daragh!

‘Kilcannon’ is owned by Daragh and his Daragh’s dad – they bought the gelding as an unbroken three-year-old from the Goresbridge sales. Daragh’s dad has never missed a competition and Daragh says the horse is his dad’s “pride and joy”. He’s even grooming for Kilcannon at Pau!

They’ve brought him on slowly, partly due to the fact he’s enormous and so needed the extra time as he matured. He’s stepped up a level each year and is now here for his first 5*.

Hot form 🌶️ He won on his first attempt at 4*-L – at Ballindenisk last season – and comes here off the back of a 4th place finish in the same competition this year.

Dressage form 📈 He scored 34.1 at Ballindenisk last month, and 32 there last year. He tends to flit around in the 30s in the first phase.

We’re guessing Daragh’s dad took this pic of his “pride and joy” (the horse, also Daragh, but mostly the horse):

Daragh starts off with a lovely square halt and they get their first 5* off on the right track. He rides bravely in the medium and Kilcannon shows himself off nicely.

This pair looks to be a truly lovely partnership. Kilcannon is working nicely for Daragh and seems to be very happy in his work.

The walk is very relaxed and they pull in a 7 and 7.5 for the extended. He raises his head slightly in the halt and the rein back is a little reluctant, but the scores remain steady 6s and 6.5s.

The canter is more relaxed than the trot work and there are lots of 7s coming in for them. The changes can be a little sticky, he clearly finds them a bit difficult.

Kilcannon doesn’t bother at all when a helicopter goes over, but then he spooks at the camera on the side of the arena. Daragh brings him straight back though and they continue on with their canter work.

Daragh looks a little disappointed as he halts, but overall this test has been really very nice, particularly for a first time at the level. Kilcannon looked to work very well with Daragh and was happy and comfortable in his work. A lot to like here.

Daragh Byrne and Kilcannon Ramiro score 38.1.

4:13pm We’re heading into a short break now. Still in the lead is Tim Price with Viscount Viktor, followed by Ros Canter and Pencos Crown Jewel. In third is Pippa Funnell with Billy Walk On. Back in around 10 minutes – at 4:21pm local time / 10:21am ET / 3:21pm BST.

4:05pm Setting us up for another short break, UK-based New Zealand rider James Avery is back at the top-level, this time with 5* debutant MBF Connection.

James has had the ride on MBF Connection since 2021, bringing him through 3* and 4* and now up to 5*.

It’s not James’ first time at the level though – he had a top-20 finish at Pau in 2019 with Mr Sneezy.

MBF Connection had his first start at 4*-L this season at Bramham, where he finished 27th. He was top-10 in the 4*-S Nations Cup at Boekelo a few weeks ago, where he very nearly finished on his dressage score, adding just 1.6 time penalties across the country.

Fun fact! James produced Tim Price’s Burghley 2023 fourth place finisher, Vitali.

Dressage form 👀 This season he’s been mid-30s at 4*. His best test came at Boekelo where he posted a 33 in the first phase.

This lovely chestnut sure loves to fly those fences:

MBF Connection has a little look round as he halts, but he looks to be listening to James as he sets off in trot.

Everything’s coming up accurately for them, but this horse doesn’t have the expression that some of the others have. They’re scoring 6s and 7s because they’re doing everything right, they’re just not able to access those top marks today.

The walk is nicely relaxed and MBF Connection takes the contact forward when James asks him to. He scores a 7 and 7.5 for the extended.

The halt is square and scores a 7.5. The rein back is also very good and gets rewarded with two 7s.

The change is a stride late, but it’s clean. Boyd thinks it’s harshly scored with a 4, 5 and 5.5.

The second change is better.

MBF Connection is obviously trying really hard for James and they look to be a nice partnership. He relaxes in the extended canter and is rewarded with 7.5s.

They finish up with a good halt and James has a bit of a smile. MBF Connection gets a nice pat.

James Avery and MBF Connection score 33.8.

3:59pm British eventer Alex Bragg is no stranger on the 5* circuit. He brings Ardeo Premier – or ‘Eddie’ as he’s known at home – forward for the gelding’s debut at the level.

They come here on good form, with 4th place finishes in their last two runs, which saw them on sub-30 scores in the first phase and adding just a smidge of cross country time.

💤 Eddie’s partial to an afternoon nap – Alex says, “He can often be found snoozing after his lunchtime feed, head buried in the banks of his bed, fast asleep”. We’re with you there Eddie! Let’s hope he has an early draw for cross country though!

Career move ⏩ Alex was a farrier before he became a full-time eventer, and shoes all of the Team Bragg horses.

In the club… As a kid, Alex competed in Pony Club mounted games – Alex’s three daughters are all keen Pony Clubbers too!

Dressage form 📋 At 4* their form is mid-30s, their best score at the level this season coming in the Nations Cup at Jardy – a 33.

Well, this is a sweet face if ever I saw one:

Alex Bragg’s Ardeo Premier (GBR). Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Alex and Eddie get going with their test and seem happy enough in the trot. It’s not pulling in top marks in these initial stages. Eddie could be a little more uphill, but he’s working nicely for Alex and everything’s accurate.

Eddie looks relaxed in the walk on the whole, but he fusses with the contact a little. He scores two 7s for the extended though.

The halt is sound for a 7 but the rein back is a little reluctant and scores 4s across the board. That affects the transition into canter, he picks up the wrong lead and Alex has to bring him back and go again.

The change is difficult and scores two 4s, but the next one is better.

Eddie’s happier in the canter work than he was in the trot. He’s more relaxed now and scores a 7.5 for the extended. They halt at the end and Alex gives Eddie a pat. He looks a little disappointed with that mistake.

Alex Bragg and Ardeo Premier score 35.5.

3:52pm British rider Kylie Roddy brings SRS Kan Do back to Pau after finishing just outside the top-10 here in 2021.

This is the gelding’s fourth 5* start – as well as Pau, he’s also been to Badminton and Luhmuhlen.

5* form 🌟 He was 6th at Luhmuhlen last year, adding just one show jumping pole to his 31.4 dressage score.

Celebrity owner 🤩 SRS Kan Do is owned by Downton Abbey actor Michael C. Fox.

Fun fact! When Kylie’s not busy with horses, she’s making them – saddle horses, that is, which she create from upcycled furniture.

Kylie wisely broke out her big coat to combat the rain at the Horse Inspection, and teamed it with super sensible rubber boots – I salute you Kylie 🫡

Dressage form 🕺 They were sub-30 at Pau in 2021, putting down a 29.1 in the first phase. They scored 29.4 at Badminton before retired out on the cross country. Will it be another 5* sub-30 test here at Pau?

👒 Hang onto your hats! It’s Pau time!:

Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

They start off with a good halt for an 8 and a 7. There are a couple of unclean steps out of it but they get going and it’s 7s across the board for the medium trot.

Kylie pushes for the extended and is rewarded with a 7.5.

Boyd notes how flowing this test is so far, and it really is. They look like a real partnership and Kan Do looks very happy in his work – well within himself and very trusting of Kylie.

The extended work pulls in two 7s, so does the medium.

The halt is very good and so is the rein back – that scores two 7.5s. The canter transition is straight out of the rein back – very impressive.

The changes are clean so far, scoring 7s and 6.5s. Those scores improve even further for the next one.

Kan Do doesn’t really take the contact forward in the circle, and that affects their mark slightly.

The final change scores 7s across the board.

They halt and score an 8 for that, and Kylie looks delighted. This was a really good test overall – a horse and rider working beautifully in harmony with one another.

Kylie Roddy and SRS Kan Do score 31.7.

3:45pm Irish rider Felicity Ward is here at Pau with Regal Bounty for the gelding’s third 5* start.

5* form 🌟 ‘Cuba’ – as he’s known at home – has been to Luhmuhlen twice, and finished 15th twice.

On form! Cuba had his highest placing in international competition this season – 2nd at Ballindenisk in the 3*-S.

Cross country machine 🤖 In 21 FEI runs, Cuba only has one retirement on course and one missed flag on his entire record.

Dressage form 🩰 They scored 38.5 at Luhmuhlen this year, and 39.5 last year. At 4* they’re generally mid- to high-30s.

Eyes on the prize:

Felicity Ward and Regal Bounty. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Cuba and Felicity get their Pau underway with a square halt. Cuba looks fabulous this afternoon, really beautifully turned out.

The trot work is accurate but this horse doesn’t have the big expressive movement of some of the others we’ve seen. Everything’s clean and Felicity’s riding for everything she can get.

Cuba’s not totally relaxed in the walk, although she steps out nicely in the extended for an 8.

The halt’s not quite square, but then Cuba steps forward to fix that and it ends up with a 7 and 7.5.

The canter work is a similar story to the trot work – clean and accurate, but not pulling in top marks.

The second flying change is better than the first and scores 7s, the next one does too.

Felicity obviously feels like she couldn’t push for the extended canter and it gets 6s and a 5.

They end up with 7s across the board for the final halt and Felicity’s smiling, obviously pleased with an accurate test overall. Lots of pats for Cuba.

Felicity Ward and Regal Bounty score 35.7

3:38pm The first up for France, Gaspard Maksud brings his first ride of the competition forward next – super mare Zaragoza who’s here at Pau for her first 5*.

‘Zoe’, as she’s known in the barn, was voted EquiRatings Horse of the Year in 2022, and looking at her form during her nine-year-old season, it’s not hard to see why.

Hot, hot, hot form! 🌶️🌶️🌶️ She was 4th at Haras du Pin in the 4*-S, adding just 0.4 show jumping time to her first-phase score of 27.4, before heading to Pratoni for the World Championships, finishing on her dressage of 27.1 and coming 6th. In 16 international competitions, she’s managed the elusive eventing feat of FOD no fewer than six times and been a whisker away on a further four occasions.

This season she’s been 5th in the 4*-S at Chatsworth, 2nd in the 4*-S at Aston Le Walls and 8th in the 4*-L at the European Championships.

One thing’s for sure, this is one to watch as she makes her 5* debut 👀

She looked fabulous at the Horse Inspection and even managed to keep her white socks nice and clean despite the puddles.

Dressage form 🩰 Regularly sub-30 at 4*, her highest dressage score since 2021 is 33.1. And don’t forget, this is a mare who is very comfortable finishing on her first-phase score.

It’s pats for ‘Zoe’ as she tears up the European Championships track:


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The home team get their Pau underway with a lovely straight entry and super square halt for an 8. Zoe is relaxed and looks extremely happy in the ring. The medium trot pulls in an 8 and 7.5 and there are more 8s coming in too.

Zoe shows such lovely expression in her work, she almost looks to be smiling. She’s so supple and is obviously really listening to Gaspard and trying her best for him.

The walk is fantastic. She extends her frame and then comes back to Gaspard, showing just how obedient she is to his aids. She’s very relaxed in there.

There’s a mistake in the halt – it’s a 3, 4 and 5 from the judges. Such a shame as this test had been lovely before that. It affects the rein back too.

The canter is much better, but the flying changes are causing a little difficulty. The scores drop for them, but the extended canter pulls in an 8.

They finish up with a square halt. Gaspard looks a little disappointed but Zoe seems pleased with herself. Lots of pats for her from Gaspard.

Gaspard Maksud and Zaragoza score 33.

3:30pm Getting us back underway is New Zealand rider Muzi Pottinger who’s here with the diminutive – but mighty – Just Kidding as the first of her two rides.

Shout-out to eventing OTTBs! ‘Ferg’ is an ex-racehorse. Muzi bought him off the track as a 5-year-old – he’s now seventeen 🏇

This is Ferg’s third 5* start this season, after rerouting from Badminton to Luhmuhlen, where they finished top-20.

5* form 🌟 They come forward for their fifth time at the level after completing Badminton last year and finishing 4th at Adelaide in 2019.

They represented New Zealand at the World Championships in Pratoni.

Trivia time! Ferg is 15.2hh when he’s standing on his tippy toes!

Who’s the daddy? 🧬 Ferg is by the Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, who was bought to go to stud for $70 million – one of the most expensive horses in history 🤑

Dressage form 👀 This pair are capable of a very good first phase score – mid-20s isn’t beyond their reach on a good day. They scored 31.3 in the Badminton mud this season, and 30.7 at Luhmuhlen, but they put down a 25.9 in the first phase at Badminton last year.

Just a little guy jumping mighty fences:

Boyd Martin joins the commentary team as Muzi gets her test underway. They get off to a good start but then Ferg shows how keen he is when Muzi pushes in the extended and he breaks into canter for a stride. She gets him straight back and they continue on settled enough.

They score an 8 in the half pass right, showing just how well Muzi pulled the trot work back.

The walk is very slightly unsettled, but Ferg’s trying his best to contain his excitement for Saturday. The scores are 6s and 6.5s in the early walk work but that improves to a 7 for the extended.

There’s an 8 for the halt and Ferg looks much happier once he gets cantering. The flying change is sound for 6.5 and 6s. The next one is better for 7s across the board.

The canter is very good and Ferg looks happy in his work. He takes the contact when Muzi asks him to stretch and they’re making a lovely picture together.

They finish up with a good halt and Ferg looks relaxed as he walks out of the arena. Overall, there was some nice work on show today, particularly in the canter work.

Muzi Pottinger and Just Kidding score 31.1.

3:20pm We’re heading into a short break now. Tim Price currently leads with Viscount Viktor on a score of 28. Ros Canter and Pencos Crown Jewel are just behind on 28.3. Back in around 10 minutes – at 3:29pm local time / 9:29am ET / 2:29pm BST.

3:16pm British eventing star Pippa Funnell is our last up before a short break. She brings homebred Billy Walk On forward for his fifth start at the level.

There’s many strings to Pippa’s bow 🏹 She’s a multiple Olympic, European and World medalist, 5* winner, a Wesko Equestrian Foundation mentor, video game star and children’s author.

Impressive results 🤩 In 40 FEI starts, the pair have had 24 top-10 results; for the first two seasons of his international career he never finished outside the top ten, including coming second in the 2016 Seven-Year-Old World Championships.

This will be Billy Walk On’s first trip to France since his superb result in the Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers. Pippa credits the horse with having a very good memory when she reflects on his aversion to the water at Badminton – will that memory stand him in good stead as he takes on France’s 5*? Only time will tell!

He certainly looked fabulous at the Horse Inspection – bouncy and keen for the job.

Dressage form 👀 This is for sure a horse who shines between the white boards, with 5* scores in the mid-20s and nary a hoof in the 30s since stepping up to 3* in 2018.

Billy Walk On is a guy with a sense of humor:

They come up the center line looking to really mean business and score an 8 for the halt. Billy Walk On really shows his self-carriage off and he’s a real picture as he trots round the arena. So supple, and expressive – lovely.

Pippa pushes for the extended trot and scores 7s and a 7.5. They’re working together with great harmony.

The very good work here is being rewarded with lots of 7.5s and a few 8s.

Billy Walk On shows off his relaxation and suppleness in his walk and scores an 8 for the extended.

There’s an 8 and a 9 for the halt – super scores coming in!

The quality continues in the canter. Billy Walk On is really working for Pippa and looks very comfortable and happy in his work. He’s well within himself and looks confident in everything’s that’s being asked of him.

Oh, he spooks in the extended canter – perhaps at the camera. The scores drop right down to 4. What a shame.

Pippa recovers like the pros she is though, and they finish up with a great halt. Pippa looks a little disappointed, but overall this test has really shown off what a lovely horse this is and what a wonderful partnership they have with each other.

Pippa Funnell and Billy Walk On score 29.5.

3:07pm Competing against her husband this week, New Zealand’s Jonelle Price also comes here double-handed. McClaren returns to Pau for another go at the podium.

Jonelle says that ‘Mac’ loves the limelight and is always happy to show off his swagger. He sounds like a bit of a cool dude 😎

Jonelle took over the ride from Mark Todd, and they did their first international event together in 2020.

5* form 🌟 They were 3rd at Pau in 2021 on the gelding’s 5* debut. They went to Kentucky last year and finished in the top-20.

🥉 Mac was Jonelle’s World Championships mount in Pratoni, where they finished 10th individually and took home a team bronze medal.

Smart cookie 🍪 Jonelle started a law degree, but ditched it after a year to pursue eventing. We’re not advocating quitting your studies, but in this case, we salute you Jonelle 🫡

Dressage form 🕺 Mac is a low-30s kind of guy in general, although he put down a 26.1 in Pratoni, and a 24.4 here in 2021 – he obviously saves his best for the big time.

Small but perfectly formed, Mac shows off his stuff:


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Jonelle and McClaren get off to a good start with two 7.5s and a 7 for the halt. He shows a lot of expression in the medium trot, although he could be a little more relaxed and he seems to be fighting the contact a little.

Everything’s accurate and Jonelle is obviously riding brilliantly, but McClaren’s not always listening – it’s kind of in moments, but it’s there.

He relaxes nicely into the walk though and they really show a good extended for 7s and 7.5s. The relaxation isn’t quite there in the collected though and the scores dip a bit.

The halt and rein back are very good and McClaren settles well into the canter. The flying changes score well, with 7s and 7.5s coming in.

Relaxation continues to be a bit of an issue at times, but the accuracy’s there in all of the movements so the scores continue to be good. The extended canter scores two 7.5s.

There’s a little tension before the final change and the scores show it with two 5s and a 4.

The final halt is good. Jonelle’s smiling but looks a little bemused. There was a lot of good in this test, but some moments when McClaren didn’t 100% seem to be with Jonelle.

Jonelle Price and McClaren score 32.4.

3pm Doing it for the girls 💃 Britain’s Kirsty Chabert brings not one but two mares to Pau. As well as her Kentucky ride Classic VI, she’s here with Opposition Heraldik Girl.

This is a first 5* for ‘Rocket’, although she comes here on good 4*-L form, with a 5th place at Kilguilkey House in Ireland last time out, where she added just 4.8 cross country time penalties to her first-phase score of 32.4.

Kirsty’s brought Rocket up through the levels, from 1* to, now, 5*.

In the genes 👖 Kirsty’s dad ‘rode round Badminton and her mom competed in Grand Prix dressage.

Dressage form 🩰 She put down a PB at 4* last time out – 32.4. Before that they’d been mostly in the high-30s.

🌱 Enjoying some French munchies with her mate Betty:

Kirsty and Rocket get off to a great start with a square halt. They motor across the arena for the medium trot, Kirsty obviously feels like she can push Rocket this afternoon. She’s really riding for every mark.

Rocket’s really listening to Kirsty, despite the atmosphere around the ring. She finds it hard to relax in the walk and seems to want to look around a bit. Kirsty’s doing a great job managing her though and they score 7s across the board for the extended.

It’s a 9 for the halt! That goes to show just how hard Rocket’s working for Kirsty.

They struggle a little with the first flying change, and the scores show it with two 4s.

Rocket’s looking a little het up in the canter work, she’s obviously fit for cross country on Saturday. The marks are dipping as the relaxation isn’t there so much now.

They sustain the halt at the end and there’s a massive pat for Rocket from Kirsty. Rocket looks very happy with her efforts.

Kirsty Chabert and Opposition Heraldik Girl score 37.4

2:52pm Kiwi eventer extraordinaire, New Zealand’s Tim Price brings Viscount Viktor forward for the nine-year-old gelding’s first time at the level.

Viktor stepped up to Advanced in 2022 and has had seven international starts with Tim.

Tim says the gelding has his own opinion on everything. But is he right, Tim?

They were 4th in the 4*-L at Kilguilkey House in Ireland in July, adding just 2.8 time penalties to their dressage of 32.2.

Tim started out in pure show jumping, competing in his first World Cup in 1999. He did his first 5* – Burghley – in 2002. Show jumping’s loss was for sure eventing’s gain!

Hot 5* form 🌶️ He’s looking for his sixth 5* win here this week, and has a whole bunch of podium finishes at the level:

🏆 he won his first 5* at Luhmuhlen with Wesko in 2014;
⭐ he was 4th at Burghley in 2016;
🥈🥉🥈 in 2015 he had a 5* podium hat trick – he was runner-up at Kentucky, 3rd at Pau and 2nd at Burghley;
🥉 he was 3rd at Badminton and 5th at Burghley in 2015;
🏆 he won Burghley in 2018;
🏆 he won Luhmuhlen in 2019;
🥉 he was on the podium at Pau in 2020;
🥈🥉he had success across the Pond in 2021, with a 2nd at Kentucky and 3rd at Maryland;
🏆 he won Pau in 2021;
🏆 he won Maryland in 2022.

Dressage form 📈 Viktor’s looking to be a low-30s kind of guy in the first phase, with a 32.4 and a 32.2 in his last two runs at 4*.

Tim and Jonelle made history when they became the first married couple to compete on the same Olympic team at the Rio games. They’re pretty good team mates too. Here they are with their team winning the Nations Cup at Millstreet this summer:


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Tim takes his time entering the ring after the bell rings, but they get there in time. They start off with a square halt and look a real picture as they set off in trot.

The medium trot is very nice, Tim obviously felt like he could push for it and is rewarded with an 8.

The lateral work continues to score well. Viktor looks very happy in his work, he’s supple and relaxed and Tim’s really riding for every mark.

There are lots of 7.5s and 8s coming in for them in the trot work, which truly has been impressive, particularly for such a young horse.

Viktor is relaxed in the walk, and then pulls out another 8 for the halt. The rein back is a little wobbly and the scores drop slightly.

The extended canter could have been a bit braver, but Viktor’s changes are very good indeed – 7s and 8s for them.

There are 8s coming in for the half passes too.

You would never believe this is such a young horse to watch this test. Viktor is being a real pro. It’s a testament to their relationship, and of course Tim’s riding. He obviously has such confidence in Tim.

There’s a little fiddle in the final halt, which scores 6.5s and a 7. A round of applause for them at the end of what’s been a great test.

Tim Price and Viscount Viktor score 27.9.

2:45pm World No. 2, Britain’s Roz Canter brings the first of her rides, Pencos Crown Jewel to Pau after an uncharacteristic slip-up on the cross country at Burghley saw Ros have a bit of a tumble.

Ros got the ride on ‘Jasmine’ after the mare’s owners saw her riding in the YEH class at Burghley.

Family connection 🧬 Jasmine is half-sister to Badminton winner and European Champion – also in Ros’ string – Lordships Graffalo (better known as ‘Walter’).

5* form 🌟 This is their fifth start at the level – they were 4th on their debut at Bicton in 2021, 11th at Burghley last year, and 9th at Badminton in the spring.

Ros started Jasmine off under the saddle, so it’s fair to say this pair know each other pretty well.

Behind the scenes… Jasmine is teased for being “Miss Health and Safety” at home as she’s always checking everything out. She loves her field and hacking on a long rein, but isn’t so happy when it comes to being caught.

Dressage form 👀 They tend to score in the highish-20s in this first phase – it was a 26.9 at Burghley, and a 29.2 at Badminton. But if we look at last year’s Burghley – a 24.2 – that would put them right in the mix here.

Ros had super-cute cartoons drawn by Sarah Charnley depicting all her horse family’s personalities. Here’s Miss Health and Safety 👷‍♀️:


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Ros and Jasmine get off to a great start with a 7 and two 7.5s for the halt. Those scores continue in the trot work with some 8s thrown in for good measure. It’s two 8s and a 7.5 for the extended.

Jasmine is expressive and supple, she’s really working hard for Ros.

She shows just how relaxed she is in the walk work, really taking the contact forward and stepping out for Ros.

The halt is totally square and the rein back is clean and accurate.

This whole test is showing just what a partnership Ros and Jasmine have – they’re totally on the same page.

The lateral work is pulling in 7.5s and 8s but those scores drop a little for the flying changes. There are a couple of little mistakes creeping in, a bit of straightness here and there. The final flying change scores much better though.

There’s the hint of a trot step into the final halt but it scores incredibly well with an 8, 7 and 7.5. Ros looks very happy with Jasmine, and Jasmine looks very happy with herself.

Roz Canter and Pencos Crown Jewel score 28.3.

2:38pm Great Britain’s Tom Rowland also comes to Pau double-handed. First for him is KND Steel Pulse coming forward for the gelding’s first time at the level.

KND Steel Pulse is known as ‘Dermot’ in the barn.

Eventing idols 🤩 After leaving school, Tom spent two years as a working pupil with Mike and Angela Tucker. He’s been mentored by Pippa Funnell since 2000.

High fashion alert! Tom gave Harry Meade a run for his money in the fashion stakes at the First Horse Inspection at Burghley with an aqua suit and matching hi-tops – suits you, sir! At Pau, an anorak was more suitable in the French deluge 🌧️

Dressage form 📈 At 4* this season they’ve trended in the high-30s. They have been lower but for the gelding’s first time at the level, we’re likely looking at the top-end of their form.

🐦 Just hoppin’ over a birdie:


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Tom and Dermot canter up the center line and halt nicely for two 7s and a 6. Dermot looks relaxed and happy enough to go in the rain.

He’s fussing a little with the contact, but just a little, it will be affecting their marks slightly though.

The second shoulder in is better than the first, there’s a bit more bend and suppleness and it gets a 7 from one of the judges.

Dermot’s really listening to Tom and trying his best in the walk work. He’s relaxed, but could step out a little more for higher marks in the extended. The halt is sound and scores 7s – and the rein back is accurate.

Dermot is definitely happier in the canter and pulls in two 7s for the first flying change. He could be a bit more expressive, but he’s very relaxed and working nicely with Tom.

Everything could be a little more – more self-carriage, more uphill, more expression – but overall he’s very rideable and a real trier. There are lots of 7s coming in for them, and there’s an 8 for the extended canter.

This test has been very pleasing to watch overall, Dermot looked to be enjoying his work and he gets a big pat from Tom at the end. He walks out of the ring looking relaxed and happy.

Tom Rowland and KND Steel Pulse score 35.3.

2:30pm Kicking off the competition for us is Kiwi eventer Jesse Campbell who – like all of our first batch of riders – comes to Pau double-handed. First up, he brings forward Irish Sport Horse Cooley Lafitte for the gelding’s first 5*.

Jesse bravely went sockless for the very wet Horse Inspection this morning, and with two rides here he had to brave the puddles on the jog strip twice ☔

High performance ⚡ When he was 21, Jesse was one of nine event riders selected for the New Zealand Eventing High Performance Squad to be based in the UK. He was the youngest rider selected. Mark Todd was also on the squad.

He worked for fellow Kiwi Andrew Nicholson before setting up his own yard.

He’s represented New Zealand at Nations Cups and was part of the Tokyo Olympics team, where he finished just outside the top-20.

5* form 🌟 This may be Cooley Lafitte’s first 5*, but Jesse is very familiar at the top-level. He finished just outside the top-10 at Kentucky in 2021 on his other Pau ride, Diachello, and finished bang on the optimum time on his 5* debut at Luhmuhlen. He’s competed at Badminton numerous times and came to Pau in 2018. He retired on the cross country that year, so he’ll be looking for his first Pau completion here this week.

Dressage form 📈 At 4* we’re looking at high-30s, sometimes into the 40s. It was 38.6 last time out, and 43.1 the time before that.

Game face on and go:

Jesse Campbell and Cooley Lafitte. Photo by Tilly Berendt.

And we’re off! Jesse and Cooley Lafitte enter the ring to get their competition underway. Cooley Lafitte is very keen and doesn’t want to halt, he’s stepping around a little and the scores are between 4 and 5. He’s much happier in trot though and is bringing in some 7s and there’s an 8 in there too.

The extended trot is a little tentative which keeps the marks down a bit. It’s raining really heavily.

The walk is also a bit difficult, Cooley Lafitte isn’t really relaxed. Scores are 5s and 6s on the whole.

The halt isn’t quite stationary and the rein back doesn’t happen as Jesse would have liked, there’s a 3 in their scores for that.

The canter work looks much easier for the horse though, and he delivers two very nice flying changes – the marks have picked up to 7s and 7.5s.

Jesse can’t really push for the extended canter as Cooley Lafitte looks ready to run cross country. It’s 6s and a 5.5.

Cooley Lafitte isn’t happy to halt at the end either, perhaps the rain’s bothering him. Jesse gives him a nice pat as they leave the ring.

Jesse Campbell and Cooley Lafitte score 39.5.

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