The home side dominated the French leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ from beginning until end. Their overall score of 101.5 put them well ahead of Belgium, who completed on 142.8. Third place went to Great Britain who finished on 149.9.
This was the fifth leg of this popular series which took place for the first time at Haras de Jardy, Normandy and attracted nine European nations as well as Australia. The victorious French team was made up of experienced team members Maxime Livio and Gwendolyn Fer, together with up-and-coming talent, Julie Simone and Camille Lejeune. All four riders performed well enough to put them inside the top ten with Livio winning the CCIO4*-NC individually on the impressive grey, Api Du Libaire, and Lejeune finishing in second place aboard Dame Decoeur Tardonne.
Speaking after the event, the triumphant Livio summed up the result for his team and his own performance with his Selle Francais gelding. “It’s always a great feeling to have such a win, especially when we are in France for the French team. I am very pleased especially for this horse because he has come back at the high level just this week and he concluded with a win and I am so happy. It was his first big show of the season, so the pressure was a little higher. It is always a pleasure to ride at Jardy because it’s a nice place for the horses, and it was a pleasure to come back with one of my top horses and I was pleased. I really appreciated his mentality because he was really connected with me.”
With world-renowned course designer Pierre Michelet in charge of the cross-country, riders knew they would face a tough test. The French designer has designed a number of championship courses, including the Rio Olympics, the 2014 FEI World Championships in Haras du Pin, and Pau CCI 5*. Whilst France led throughout, the cross-country course shook up the order beneath that. Germany, who was second behind France after the first phase, had only one rider complete the competition and therefore finished in 10th, the bottom of the table.
Camille Lejeune commented on the severity of the cross-country course, which proved to be particularly influential and saw a number of eliminations, retirements, and both jumping and time faults throughout the day. “That was the first time for the Nations Cup in Jardy. It was a very tough course, very twisty, lots of fences and a lot of jumps. Something like 40 jumps in six minutes 38, so it was a very quick race. Everything was great with my horse.”
Livio was happy to be riding a more experienced horse on the cross-country. “The course was technical, with many combinations and big angles and different striding with many choices for the riders, but my horse is very experienced, so I was quite confident. The time here is always difficult, so I decided to go for the time at the beginning of the course and then just feel my horse. From beginning to end, he was very motivated and focused on each fence, so he finished inside the time and I think he enjoyed a lot, the course.”
The sixth leg of the Nations Cup plays out in Avenches (Switzerland), which takes place from 20-23 July. The Series will conclude at Boekelo (NED) from 4-8 October, where the final Paris Olympics team place will be awarded to the highest place nation not already qualified. Belgium, who is one of those nations looking for a place in Paris, continue to lead the series on 440 points. They have targeted the Nations Cup for the purpose of helping their chance of qualification, and have sent a team to everyone so far.
by Eleanore Kelly