For those of you fearing the swift approach of the end of the season, take heart: we’ve still got some jolly big competitions to look forward to before we all go into hibernation for the winter. (We kid. But wouldn’t that be a nice way to deal with it?) One of those is, of course, the final European five-star of the year. Today, Les 5 Etoiles de Pau revealed its entry list, and there’s plenty to look forward to.
Taking place from the 24-27 October in the south of France, Pau is a popular destination for competitors from around the world, and offers an opportunity for competitors to bank their Olympic qualifications before the season wraps. The twisty, technical track, designed by Pierre Michelet, presents rather a different challenge to the likes of Badminton, Burghley, and Kentucky, and this year, it delivers a smaller field, too – but among the 43 competitors, who represent 11 nations, there’s some serious quality.
Notable entrants include Australia’s Shane Rose, who brings forward his WEG mount Virgil. The fourteen-year-old gelding finished second in his five-star debut at Adelaide in 2015, 16th at Burghley in 2016, and seventh at Luhmühlen in 2017 before Shane relocated back to his base in Australia. Now, with two CCI4*-S victories under his belt from two international runs this year, he’s on flying form for his return to Europe.
Six French riders will be taking part, with 2016 Pau victor Maxime Livio debuting Vitorio du Montet after a top twenty finish at Bramham. Rio tea member Mathieu Lemoine also has an exciting debutante on the list: Tzinga d’Auzay, who finished 20th at Blenheim last year and has notched up top ten finishes at Saumur CCI4*-L and Haras du Pin CCIO4*-S, makes his first five-star start.
Great Britain makes up the majority of the entry list, as has become the norm: among their 20 entrants, Alex Bragg will ride his stalwart Zagreb, third at Luhmühlen in June. World Champion Ros Canter contests her first five-star after maternity leave with Zenshera, who has four top-ten five-star finishes – two of them at Pau – under his belt. Sarah Bullimore, who missed out on the win here two years ago by a tenth of a penalty, brings forward Conpierre, with whom she finished eighth at Luhmühlen, while talented young rider Felicity Collins makes her five-star debut with Just Amazing and RSH Contend Or.
Tom McEwen and Figaro van het Broekxhof finished second at Luhmühlen this year after winning Belton’s Grantham Cup CCI4*-S, and they’ll head south with the hope of going one better at Pau – but Mr Fig will face stiff competition from stablemate Toledo de Kerser, back in action after a minor injury saw him withdraw from the European Championships at the eleventh hour. Gemma Tattersall, too, brings forward two horses: Chilli Knight, who was third in the eight- and nine-year-old class at Blenheim last month, and new ride Jalapeño, with whom she won the Event Rider Masters finale last week.
Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto has accomplished one big goal this year in qualifying all four of his horses for Tokyo, and now he’s out to prove exactly what they’re all capable of – his Tacoma d’Horset certainly shouldn’t be underestimated.
Nor, of course, should Luhmühlen winners Tim Price and Ascona M. Tim’s entries make up two-thirds of New Zealand’s numbers at Pau: he also brings forward his 2015 Luhmühlen winner Wesko. Joining him in the Kiwi camp is James Avery, who makes his long-anticipated five-star debut with Mr Sneezy.
Sweden’s Ludwig Svennerstal will be a very busy boy indeed – he has three horses entered. Salunette steps up to the level after showing some promising form in her short international career, while the considerably more experienced El Kazir SP, eighth at the European Championships this summer, also heads to his first five-star. Balham Mist rounds out the trio, and will be making his third start at the level.
There are few things we like better than an off-the-track Thoroughbred, and we’ll be able to cheer one on in France – Felix Vogg and Archie Rocks will be Switzerland’s sole representatives at Pau. What else do we love? A North American entry, of course, and although the US are conspicuous only in their absence, Canada will be ably represented by Holly Jacks and More Inspiration.
We’ll be bringing you a comprehensive form guide ahead of the event, but in the meantime, you can peruse the entry list in full here. Allons-y!