Young French rider Maxime Livio has won his first major four-star eventing title at Pau. History repeated itself as, just like in 2015, Olympic double gold medallist Michael Jung could not add the Pau title to his list of victories, having to settle for finishing second and third this year with his two horses.
Sunday afternoon’s show jumping course proved challenging; its triple combination and final line with five short strides saw the demise of some high-ranking riders. There were only seven clear rounds in total.
Jock Paget and Clifton Signature were among those who collected faults: two down saw them slip to seventh overall.
Caroline Powell and her horses Spice Sensation and Flying Finish finished 26th and 27th respectively on 79.8 and 80.5 after picking up faults in the show jumping.
Second in the rankings after cross-country and therefore the penultimate rider to start, Maxime Livio with the Selle Français 12-year-old Qalao des Mers finished his round without any faults. Maxime has competed in three 4* events, with two second placings (Pau in 2014 and Luhmühlen in June this year) and was anticipating a third second place, with Michael Jung holding the box seat. However, after fisherRocana’s faults on the verticals (fences 10 and 12), the crowd went wild as they realised the victory would go to the French. This was a similar finish to last year when Astier Nicolas won after Michael – who was in the lead after cross-country – had a show jumping rail. Astier went on to be a part of France’s Rio Olympic gold team and claim individual silver.
Maxime described his win at ‘the most beautiful four-star competition in the world’ as a magical experience. “I’ve finished second at this level before, so finally to win is very special. I’ve had a marvellous time at Pau – the ground was well prepared, the courses were great and my horse performed well.”
Michael Jung’s achievement of second with fischerTakinou (who had one rail) and third with his 11-year-old mare fischerRocana, should still be celebrated, and he declared on the podium that he would be back next year to win.
British rider Nicola Wilson just missed the podium, finishing fourth after the two penalties clocked up by One Two Many. Her fellow British rider, CCI4* first-timer Alexander Bragg, a farrier, finished fifth on Zagreb after one of the few faultless jumping rounds. Nicola filled a second top-10 spot with Annie Clover in eighth.
Camilla Speirs from Ireland was delighted with her Rio Olympics partner Portersize Just A Jiff: the pair rose from 32nd after dressage to take sixth place with clear rounds in the cross-country and show jumping.
Two horses were withdrawn before the final veterinary inspection – 10th-placed Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison (Sonja Johnson, Australia) and Fleet Street (Roo Fox, GB) – and two more were eliminated at the final inspection – Cracker Jack, who lay in sixth place with Boyd Martin (USA), and Cooley Blue Flame, 35th with Katie O’Sullivan (Ireland).
Aurelien Leroy, second after dressage and the leader after cross-country, jumped clear to win the CIC** on the nine-year-old gelding Boyjoyce Chavannais. Maxime Livio had additional cause for celebration after finishing second in this class on Tina de la Fieffe. Karim Florent Laghouag rounded off the all-French podium with Vendéen des Bois.
Caroline and Chance Encounter were 31st in the CIC2*, with 90.2pen, finishing with a clear round in the show jumping.
Videos of the four best riders on the cross-country : https://we.tl/Kaj14wHTXK
Videos of the three best riders on the jumping : https://we.tl/lf5CUgpeEz
The full results : http://www.worldsporttiming.com/results/timing-914.html