OK, here it goes, the French, the Frogs. I thought picking the Aussies was tough, this French list has more names that are unpronounceable for this Aussie bloke, a VERY long B list and was a tough pick, basically because very few combinations picked themselves. Overall, I had to comb and re-comb the lists to finalise my team.
So we start with the Elite list which interestingly lists only rider names but not horses. So combinations need to be selected. The first rider on the elite list is Stanislas De Zuchowicz who has the mount Quirinal De La Bastide ENE HN, still with me? This pair have run at Rolex twice as well as WEG, overall good dressage and generally nice XC, but they do pull 1-2 rails regularly. Surprisingly they have never run a four star on their side of the Atlantic. At this stage, they make the team.
Pascal Leroy is the next rider on the list and he has two horses at four star level, Glenburny Du Leou and Minos De Petra, both horses have competed at four star level although with mixed results. Glenburny has two incomplete XCs from the last four starts at the 4* level, the other two results were a respectable 24th at Pau and 11th at Luhmuhlen. Both results included at least one rail, this 18 year old horse is probably not worth the risk around Greenwich Park. Minos retired on XC at Pau late last year but earlier in the year managed a respectable 22nd at Badminton with 2 rails. At WEG in Kentucky this horse managed to only add 3 jumping time penalties to its dressage score. To me this is the pick of Pascal’s horses although I do have concerns, its results are scattered with 2-4 rails in the jumping and they were eliminated at the Euro Champs last year at Luhmuhlen. Lets say at this stage that Pascal and Minos are a maybe, they are entered and accepted at Badminton.
Next on the Elite list is Donatien Schauly and his one horse, Ocarina Du Chanois at the CCI3* level. This 10 year old bay gelding is qualified to run 4* but is yet to be tested. However its results to date are impressive, top 10 finishes in all FEI class starts, usually on its dressage score in the low 40s. At the Euro Champs last year in Luhmuhlen they finished 6th on their dressage score and in 2010 they won Boekelo with their dressage score plus 4 XC time faults. This pair are impressive and despite being untested at four star level I would pick them.
Nicolas Touzaint is no stranger to the elite level of competition and he has three potential mounts for London; to be honest, Nicolas is a class rider and has been the backbone of the French team for a number of years now. Hidalgo De L’ile is a 17 year old bay gelding who is at the end of its career. I get the feeling Nicholas is keeping this horse ticking over, it was 5th at Pau last year, was 4th at Rolex in 2009 and won Badminton in 2008. This horse is only doing one big event each year. Nicholas is waiting for one of his youngsters to step up to the plate in my opinion. I would take Hidalgo to London, but only if either of the other two aren’t up to it yet.
Pepsy Du Thil is a 9 year old Anglo Arab grey gelding, this horse is untested at CCI3* let alone 4*, we will see this horse at Normandy in two years time. That leaves Neptune De Sartene, an 11 year old bay gelding that is qualified but yet to be tested at four star. This horse is capable of low 40s dressage, clean XC and jumping. It finished 8th at last years Euro Champs. Honestly, I think we will see this horse run in the spring, most likely at Badminton (NOTE, he is not on the accepted or wait list for Badminton), if he performs as he should then Neptune will be Nicolas’ mount for London, if not, the old man of the herd Hidalgo will have his swan song at London.
That finishes out the Elite list for the French, next we move on to the Seniors list of which there are 15 riders named, again with no mounts. While I have examined all 15 as part of my research I will not go through them individually but go through the highlights, the full list is here on page 14.
The first combination on the Seniors list that are a maybe in my opinion are Didier Dhennin and Opi De Saint Leo. This 10 year old chestnut gelding looks quite promising but only has one CCI3* under its belt so far a 13th at Boekelo adding just 8 time to their dressage score. This pair will need to pull off a major spring result to be considered for London. They are not entered for Badminton, although they probably wouldn’t be considered given their lack of experience. Perhaps Luhmuhlen in June, we will have to see.
A pair that does have four star experience finishing 20th at last year’s Pau is Karin Florent and Chicago Van’t Zonneveld, that said their dressage isn’t so hot but they have finished top 20 in all 3 & 4 star starts so they need to be on the list of maybes.
Edouard Legendre and Lanacan are interesting, as a pair they have completed three 4* events, Pau 16th & 34th and Luhmuhlen 25th, but they almost always pick up significant time penalties or a bunch of rails, at Pau last year they had six. They are not on the entry list for Badminton and I don’t believe we will see them on the French team this year.
Denis Mesples and the promising young horse Oregon De La Vigne, this pair have shown some potential although it really hasn’t shown up in placings as yet. Their dressage still needs work but they are capable of a clear if slow XC round. They do have an issue in the jumping with one rail almost par for the course and on a bad day, four rails. They are on the wait list for Badminton but number 26 at this stage so it is unlikely they will get a run. In all this pair need more experience and to be more consistent before representing their nation.
Astier Nicholas (yes Astier is his first name, I checked) and the unpronounceable Jhakti Du Jaulie have stepped up to four star last year. Prior to their four star move they were regular (almost always) finishers in the top 10. They tackled both Pau and Luhmuhlen last year and having a stop on XC at each. This pair and this young rider Astier are ones to watch, Astier is only 22 so has a long way to go in the sport and if he makes it to Badminton (they are no 11 on the wait list so it is possible) they may assert themselves for the French team. I am one for ensuring that at least one up and coming star is blooded on a major games team each time. Astier is my pick of the younger French riders.
Eddie Sans is a familier name to many eventers as he has competed at Burghley the last two years. He has two 4* horses, Mayland Du Brunel and Kramique. Both horses are veterans at four star level with Mayland having had five 4* starts despite being only 12. Kramique on the other hand had two 4* starts last year and neither was particularly spectacular with final scores well over 100 penalties. Mayland had a bad season at the 4* level last year with an incomplete at Burghley and then 124.2 at Pau just five weeks later. Mayland is wait listed for Badminton but in no 22 spot, I doubt they will make the cut. This pair have enough experience but I don’t believe have the results to warrant selection for the French team.
OK we are almost there, I told you it was a VERY long B list, two more riders to go.
Jean Teulere and Matelot Du Grand Val, this 12 year old gelding now has three 4* results under his belt and is entered and accepted for Badminton. While their results haven’t been perfect a 5th at Pau in 2010 and 14th last year are promising. This pair will be aiming to improve on last year’s 37th at Badminton when they line up in a few weeks. If only they can remove their perpetual two rails in the jumping and their results will be really competitive. I am putting this pair on my team.
Finally we have Eric Vigeanel who has two 4* horses Maranello and Kalin De Burgo, to be honest both horses are risky options for any national team, they have far to many “E”s in their results to be considered in my opinion.
So we have got to the end of the list, who is the team? To be honest I am not sure, lets run through them.
Stanislas De Zuchowicz – Quirinal De La Bastide ENE HN
Donatien Schauly – Ocarina Du Chanois
Pascal Leroy – Minos De Petra
Nicolas Touzaint – Neptune De Sartene or Hildago
Karin Florent and Chicago Van’t Zonneveld
Astier Nicholas – Jhakti Du Jaulie
Jean Teulere – Matelot Du Grand Val
These are my top seven, if all are fit and able to compete, I would put Karin Florent and Astier Nicholas as my reserves, it is a toss of the coin as to which you would take if one of the other five dropped out. Both have assets and reasons to be on the team.
Thanks again for wading through my ramblings.
Yours in Eventing,