Since the first edition of the FEI Nations Cup at Haras du Pin in 2017, the French squad has won…3 times. At the end of the suspense, the French, deprived of one of their best pairs — Qamilha, the mare of Thaïs Meheust, having been spun at the inspection on Sunday morning — had to stick together to succeed in winning against a highly motivated Italian team. At the top of the overall ranking of the circuit, Italy was keen to strengthen their leadership by winning in the Norman fields.
They met a strong and particularly united French team. Because when Jean Teulère, the first member of the team to start in this last test, went off the course with three poles on the ground, they were really down…and feeling the pressure growing! Because the Italians lined up the good performances, especially Ariana Schivo. “We first wanted to keep our second place and we hoped to go back to the first. It was doable, but very tight. Out team worked quite well, even if some of my team mates had some penalties, it was good,” Ariana explained. She finished on a clear round and a 5th place.
When Clara Loiseau, the second member of the French team to tackle the SJ course, had a pole down, things tightened. There was no other option than a clear round for the last rider to go for the French squad. Being in the lead so far added to suspense.
“When I compete with Punch, I obviously dream of winning but I know that my place is rather 3rd or 3rd. His record speaks for it,” Karim Laghouag said. “It’s a great surprise, especially as the team relies on me for the victory. A team medal is really something special to me. To feel that extra pressure helped me. I’ve had a few four-point show jumping results this year with him which is really rare. I’ve been riding him since he was four, he’s 16 now. I probably needed a bit of pressure to believe in it and do all I could to get that clear round. I’ve realised that I could ride him with more pressure and get a better result,”
On top of pocketing the team prize – the third in a row for France in the FEI Nations Cup, Karim Laghouag also won the series in front of two Brits David Doel and Kirsty Johnson, as Thomas Carlile (again!!) finished 4th. He could have won if Atos hadn’t added disappointing 4 penalty points to his score on the first fence of the course.
She strongly wanted to finish on a positive note after an unexpected fall with her other horse Romantic Love, earlier on. Gwendolen Fer, From Toulouse, manage to overcome pressure from her leading position by foot perfectly clearing the course with Traumprinz. The beautiful trakehner gelding touches the one before the last but it didn’t fall and they reached the line clear.
“Traumprinz got hurt at Bramham (GBR) last year, so it was his come back here,” the rider explains. “Starting with a victory is always morally good. He performs with regularity. He‘s overqualified for the series, but we know that we can trust him on all 3 tests. We’ll see if we ‘re coming back in September for the Grand National class or if we’re choosing to compete at Lignieres,”
Following her, were Thomas Carlile with Cestuy La de l’Esques and Karim Laghouag on Triton Fontaine.
One, two and three horses on the podium! Not many riders have ever done such a tremendous performance. On top of riding a large number of horses, nine in the day yesterday competing in different classes, Thomas Carlile totally mastered this long format series. He’s used to international podiums, but wouldn’t have bet on it before the competition.
“I didn’t have it on mind when I arrived. I knew Birmane and Bary Louvo were to fight side to side for the lead as they have already competed at this level. I’m particularly satisfied with Zanzibar Villa Rose Z who is only 7. He started eventing last year. He qualified this year for the Mondial du Lion and I wanted to see him on a long format here. He’s the conformation of a 5 star horse and has a great form. I thought the long format would better suit his gallop. And I was right. The show jumping test is his weakest point, he needs to be collected after the cross country. He has perfectly recovered after the cross country and avoided the difficulties today. He totally deserves his 2nd place,” Tomas said.
On the lead before the SJ phase with Birmane, Thomas couldn’t avoid the 4 penalty points. “I think that Birmane’s rider‘s been less efficient today than Bary’s one,” Thomas adds laughing. “She’s slightly better than the other two but I cut the curve to number 8. I paid it full. She’s had a few slight muscles problems in spring and it’s her 2nd competition since. She has to find her reflex back. Even if she’s a great show mare, she‘s sometimes overconfident. I wanted to give her an easy course to run for her confidence and strengthen her with the distance,”
It was thus all the podium places for Thomas with in order Bary louvo, Zanzibar Villa Rose Z and Birmane, leaving fourth place to Kiwi Andrew Nicholson with Spanish horse Argentino BK, and Belgian Senne Vervaecke finished fifth with Jeno.
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