The French Pro Elite Championship – which had not taken place since 2019 – is back on a completely renovated site and showcased in the most beautiful way by GL Events Equestrian Sports! Enough to attract an unprecedented number of seventy contenders for the title, including the best whips of the moment.
To be at the start of this first stage judged on scale C, it was still necessary to appear on April 8 in the permanent classification including all the performances in the national Grand Prix or in CSI3*. The course at 1.50 meters traced by Cédric Longis consisted of thirteen obstacles, including three doubles. In total, twenty-seven couples complete a clear round, but some, too slow, find themselves in the second part of the table. The public, who came in large numbers, was moved three times when Marc le Berre/Donato de la Grée (Conrad), Julia Dalammano/Varennes du Breuil (Jarnac) then Alexandre Fontanelle/Captain Colombo 2 (Clooney) were victims of he fall, fortunately not serious, but also vibrated throughout the event as the riders – who appeared in the reverse order of the federal classification – competed daringly to close the turns and gain a few tenths of a second. Charles-Henri Closed nowin the saddle on Bellini Dufaure de L (Mylord Carthago), thirty-fifth to start, set the fastest stopwatch (70”70) but was beaten a few minutes later by Axel Van Colenauthor of a masterful lap in 70”31 and at the controls of Veyron (Stakkatos Highlight), which allowed him to settle in the lead, until the reigning French champion, Benoit Cerninassociated with the whole Haddock Twocatsix (Vigo Cécé), lowered the time to 69”92 in a style of extreme fluidity. The couple finally finished in fourth position in this first round. Fifty-third to start, Francois Xavier Boudantat the reins of Brasil du Mezel (Haloubet de Gorze), owned by his friend Lionel Maurice, did even better (69”57) and finished this first stage in third position. The rider said he was delighted with his turn. “Everything went as I wanted. I am in a good position for the future, everything is fine. » Julien Epaillardwho rushed right after him with Fifth (Quinteder), twelve years old, once again lived up to his reputation as the fastest rider on the circuit as he took the clock down nearly four seconds by crossing the finish line in 65”97! None of the fifteen couples still in the running could do better. Julien Epaillard is therefore at the head of this first stage with this mare who joined his stables four years ago. “The mare is naturally very fast”he commented modestly. “Before her stop in Hagen two years ago, she was second in a 1.55 meter event. She resumed competition in January but her favorite category is more about 1.45 or 1.50 meters so I have no big illusions, I tried to win what I could win. She has a huge heart, the last respect, but maybe not all the means. We’ll see on Sunday, if I see that it’s a little too hard, I won’t insist, and if it goes to the end, so much the better. » Among the last to leave, Gregory Cottardwho granted Bibici a well-deserved rest following the World Cup final in Leipzig, had saddled up for the occasion Valley Cocaine (Mylord Carthago), owned by Marie Caroline Besins, with whom he signed a timed clear round at 69”04 which earned him the provisional second place in this championship. “Cocaine jumped beautifully from start to finish, except for a small reprieve on the penultimate, but luck is part of this sport and I thank it”smiled the rider. “Since the beginning of the year, I had not put her as the number one mare. I started last week in Grimaud, where she ran her first 5* Grand Prix of the season, and the strategy of putting her on the high level has obviously paid off. I was thinking that if she didn’t make it, I would have to downgrade her and keep her as a second mare, but in the end I’m delighted with her performance.”he added.
Cédric Longistrack designer for all the championships (Pro Elite, 1, 2, and 3), assisted by Alain Lhopital (who should in turn lay out the tracks in 2023 as tradition dictates) drew a satisfactory conclusion from this first step. “With seventy starters of varying skill level, I didn’t want to make the first day neither too hard nor too easy, and we didn’t see any horses struggling. As most of the best French riders are present, we will be able to offer a great final on Sunday morning. We saw clear rounds and four quick points that are still in the game. The scores promise to be tight. » At the start of this final confrontation in two rounds, on two different courses, all the couples having taken part in the first round, with a score calculated in points at the end of the initial round. On the other hand, only the forty best will be invited to compete in the second round of this final which promises to be thrilling!
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In Fontainebleau, Beatrice Fletcher