There are plenty of slightly odd things about Les 4 Etoiles de Pau, or, to give it its official title, #PartyPau, and one of those is definitely the first horse inspection. It takes place under the shroud of a sleepy sunrise, which only makes its yawning appearance by about the fifteenth horse, and it’s only when the last couple head down the strip that you actually feel like you might be awake, and on this planet, and prepared to attempt to function like a normal human being.
Like any other major trot-up, it’s become a bit of a fashion show over the years, and so even if the bags under the riders’ eyes aren’t designer, there’s every chance their outfits are.
Sixty-one horses presented this morning to a ground jury made up of Christina Klingspor (SWE), Nathalie Carriere (FRA) and Katrin Eichinger-Kniely (AUT), and all of them were accepted into the competition. We’ve got four American riders here this week — Kim Severson rides her Blenheim CCI3* winner Cooley Cross Border, Boyd Martin pilots the New Zealand Thoroughbred Steady Eddie, Phillip Dutton is entered with I’m Sew Ready, and 23-year-old Hallie Coon makes her four-star debut with the Dutch mare Celien, who she’s produced through the levels herself. We’ll also be cheering on US-based Aussie Ryan Wood and his Woodstock Bennett.
The mostly uneventful morning wasn’t without its dramas — both Waltham Fiddlers Find for Tom Jackson and Corvette 31 for Andreas Ostholt were asked to trot up again, though were then immediately accepted. Burghley winner Tim Price brought forward four-star debutante Ascona M, and she was the only horse sent to the holding box this morning. She, too, was subsequently accepted.
HiHo Silver and Fairfax & Favour were on hand to assist with the judging of the best-dressed awards. The prize for the best-dressed man went to young British rider Will Furlong, who contests his second four-star this week with Collien P 2, while France’s own Clara Loiseau was best-dressed female. She rides Wont Wait.
Dressage commences this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. local time/7:30 a.m. EST, with Izzy Taylor and Call Me Maggie May the first in the ring. There are some major players to watch out for, including Germany’s Bettina Hoy and Designer 10, who are almost certain to lead after the first phase. They can piaffe, people. We’ve seen it. It’s haunting us. Anyway, you can watch them at 2:50 p.m. local time/8:50 a.m. EST, and we highly recommend doing so — they are enormously impressive in this phase and their score will probably end up flirting with the minimum drinking age.
Planning a live-streaming session, but don’t have hours to devote to dressage? Here are our picks of the horses and riders you’ll want to make sure you catch today. Check out our comprehensive guide to the event’s competitors for everything you need to know about them:
1.44pm local/7.44am EST: Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border
2.12pm local/8.12am EST: Andreas Ostholt and So Is Et
2.19pm local/8.19am EST: Gemma Tattersall and Santiago Bay
2.50pm local/8.50am EST: Bettina Hoy and Designer 10
4.10pm local/10.10am EST: Andreas Dibowski and FRH Butts Avedon
5.23pm local/11.23am EST: Izzy Taylor and Be Touchable