Thursday, 20 October 2011

Pau 2011: Missing You Already

Les Etoiles Du Pau CCI**** | So Relaxed The Riders Even Have Time For A Smile To Camera From XC
If you're going to frequent a 4 star in October, I can't think of a better event than Les Etoiles Du Pau. As I sit here in the UK, one week on from embarking for Pau, with the reality of two children to look after, not to mention the prospects of the days and nights getting colder [they have already], I can't help but think of the warm sunshine and French hospitality (plus wine) I left behind only days ago with a great deal of fondness.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Pau 2011: Sunday's Action | The Winners, The Losers & The Great Grey

Mary King Takes Home The Big Money Winning The 2011 HSBC FEI Cassics™ Series
I'd just started writing my love letter to Pau and lamenting about having to leave when I suddenly remembered I should at least briefly recap Sunday's goings on and post some pictures as yet unpublished. Saturday's cross country phase left many a sore leg on a horse, giving grooms and riders plenty to do overnight. As I left the event around 11 pm that night horses were being inspected for soundness on the tarmac roadways in preparation for the morning's trot up.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Pau CCI**** 2011 ✔ Done: WINNER - William Fox Pitt

William Fox-Pitt Wins Pau CCI**** 2011

Pau 2011 CIC** Showjumping ✔ Done

I'll keep this short and sweet:

Andrew Nicholson jumped clear, Paul Tapner didn't, Nicholson Wins:

More photos will appear here soon

Pau CIC** Results

Pau 2011: All To Play For

It All Starts Here
Eight horses are within one rail of winning Europe's 4 star swan song for 2011 in today's showjumping after a day of cross country that has undoubtedly left many horses stiff and a little sore after jumping all those fences on the top on mounds, so there's everything to play for, and two of those horses are ridden by none other than William Fox-Pitt which also means the lady with the big green truck, can't count her HSBC $s until the final whistle!

It all starts here at about 2PM GMT+1, until then, there's sunshine, horse inspections, CIC** Show Jumping, and tales of the unexpected.

All On Their Way.....

Pau CCI**** Cross Country | The Course, The Competition & The Crowd

Mr Cruise Control | Still the "Horse To Take Home From Pau"
Well, What A Day, What A Four Star! After today Pau is definitely on my calendar as a permanent fixture! The weather and the end of season atmosphere certainly helps, but this is also a very interesting track. Pierre Michelet had clearly planned the placement of every fence to the last millimetre, making use of every opportunity to break concentration, and force riders to think how their horses might react.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Pau CCI**** Cross Country ✔ Done

William Fox-Pitt 
Hang on to your horses, I'll be back shortly with a round up and another Helmet Cam. Mean while here are the photos:



Pau CIC** Cross Country ✔ Done

Paul Tapner Foot Perfect In The CIC** Cross Country To Maintain His Lead Of 4.8 Points
The two star cross country from Pau has been full of thrills and spills, with a large number of the field stumbling and fumbling their way through the water fences, whether they went clear or not. It is a lovely course with far less mole hills to deal with compared to the four star track.

Paul Tapner has maintained his lead heading into the showjumping, and both  he and Andrew Nicholson (in 2nd place) provided a masterclass in cross country riding, with the two cleanest rounds of the day, on a track that was not helped by a low early morning sun and most of the fences in shade.

Pau 2011: Cross Country Morning - Here We Go!

It All Starts Here
Pau 9AM:

It's been a pleasantly gentle start to the day this morning, the sun only peeped over the horizon an hour ago,   sending the picturesque moon into hiding for the day. Most riders have been keeping a low profile as they prepare for the big day. So far I've only spotted Mary King, out on course and Georgina Tapner busy grooming away for husband Paul.

The main arena has been prepared, for the start and finish, and the enormous warm up sand arena has been cleared to make way for three practice fences. Tradestands are opening up for business, and the crowds are trickling in, which is more than can be said for the media.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Pau 2011 Friday | Andrew Nicholson Well Positioned For XC

Andrew Nicholson & Armada
Andrew Nicholson has come to Pau with a full arsenal of 3 horses (Henry Tankerville, Armada, Mr. Cruise Control) for the CCI****, plus one in the 2 star. I caught up with him after his dressage test on Armada, which is a horse I've always admired as he's a 'little' exciting to watch on the cross country. This video interview turned out a little shorter than I expected due to a battery failure, but continues below. The thing I like about Andrew is he speaks his mind, and enjoys pulling your leg or trying to trip you up!

Pau 2011 - Dressage ✔ Done

Andrew Nicholson & Mr. Cruise Control | The Horse To Take Home From Pau
The sun here in Pau is still shining as the dressage phase finally draws to a close. Two Aussies, Clayton Fredericks & Chris Burton, sit neck-a-neck on 43.7, with William Fox-Pitt and Oslo half a point behind.

Pau 2011 Friday | Mary King Scores 51.0

Mary King & Imperial Cavalier Score 51.0
The more I watch dressage, the less I understand it. OK it wasn't a stunning test, but it was better than a lot of those ahead of her in the leader board.

Pau 2011- Friday | Ruth Edge In The Nick Of Thyme

Ruth Edge (right) & Judy Harvey
Ruth Edge is probably mentioned more times on the second day of dressage at a CCI****, as Mickey Mouse is at Disneyland. With the scores to back it up, she leads the dressage more than any other rider before her. At Pau this year Ruth is riding only one horse, Nick Of Thyme, a relative new comer to the CCI**** circuit, but never the less an impressive one. 19th at his first 4 star at Badminton last year and placed more than once at 3 star this year.

I stood mesmerised in the warm arenas watching this big graceful horse float around the arenas, producing some fabulous suspension in his paces. Almost as interesting, was the fact that Ruth and her dressage coach, Judy Harvey seemed to be talking to themselves, when in fact they were talking to each other via a radio link, so I decided to find out more about the tech, the horse, and Ruth's thoughts on Pau this year:

Pau 2011 Friday | More Sunshine - More Dressage - More of Everything

Ruth Edge & Nick Of Thyme
Whilst I grab a quick bite to eat and prepare 2 videos, take a look at a few more magnificent horses out schooling this morning:

More Photos

Pau 2011 - Friday Morning | More Dressage - More Training - More Sunshine

Andrew Nicholson & Armada
Friday's at these big 3 Day's I always find more relaxed, especially the mornings. Pau is possibly a little different, only in the fact that there are a few key riders who have 3 horses in the CCI****, which means the Friday morning session will include some of these.

William Fox-Pitt is currently leading on Oslo on 44.2. Andrew Nicholson didn't produce his best from Armada, but as he would say "this isn't a dressage competition", and this horse is awesome cross country.

Here's  a few photos whilst I go hunting for more interesting stuff

Pau 2011- Day One: There's Something About Mary

Mary King | Current Leader 
Mary King is currently leading the CCI**** here at Pau, with both William Fox-Pitt & Andrew Nicholson in her slipstream. Something, someone said at dinner this evening, made me think there really is something about Mary that sets her apart from the rest; she always has a smile and hello for everyone, always willing to help out, and as I said in a previous post she's the eventer most young riders admire, and Thursday at Pau belongs to Mary.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Pau Is Where It's At

Mary King & Apache Sauce
I've literally only just arrived at Pau CCI**** in South West France, after a short detour following endless yellow signs for "The Stars Of Pau", and finally giving in and phoning the press office, who beyond the call of duty came out to find me and lead me by the nose to the entrance, which incidently I would never have found under my own steam. I even had trouble finding the media centre. I did manage to find the lorry park, the warm up area, a bunch of friendly Aussie riders from back home, and one of the central stars of this year's event, Mary King, out on Apache Sauce.

Segway | Transport of Choice
The plane on the way over was full to the gills with owners, supporters and general eventing fans, plus a certain Press Officer from Badminton, Julian Seaman, who is helping out here for the week, and is making me work for my accreditation by holding pre-Badminton meetings with some of the representatives from HSBC. Nothing like early planning!

Even though we have great weather here, this event has a great end of summer feel, where everyone is relaxed, smiling, tanned, soaking up the atmosphere, and plenty are zipping around on Segways. This is shaping up to be a good week.

Anyhow, now that I've managed to find my base for the week, I'm off to get my bearings, some photos, and see what's generally happening, before getting a guided course walk with a few of the riders.

I'm so excited I can't think straight!

More from Pau very soon.....

Pau CCI**** | The Beginning & The End

Pau CCI**** gets underway today with the first horse inspection shortly before 1PM local time. I had originally though I might miss both this and some of the dressage, but I should make it to Pau in time for a sunny afternoon walk the around the cross country course before the competition begins in earnest with tomorrow's dressage.

There are riders from 17 nations in the mix, with the largest contingents being sent from France and Great Britain, but as with any of these European top flight events, very strong entries from UK based Aussie's, Kiwis, not forgetting a handful of Germans, all keen to make use of double points on offer for the HSBC Classics Series.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Battle Of The Kings & A Little Last Minute Dot Com

Will He Win?
So here I am sat in my sister's house again,  a few minutes up the road from Gatwick Airport, only days after the last impromptu stay on route to somewhere that sounds so much more glamourous than it really is.

The eventing season (in Europe at least) is drawing to a close, and that means Pau CCI****. It's already all over the news that there is some serious $$$$$ at stake courtesy of the HSBC FEI Classics Series, and William Fox-Pitt needs to win Pau in order to snatch the bonus right from underneath Mary King's nose.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Dauntsey Horse Trials | A Bonus Throw Back To Summer

Sarah-Jane Brown Flys Over The Hanging Log
I thought Gatcombe had given the British summer a final send off, but the current mini heat wave has provided a bonus weekend of sunny eventing in the UK. Osberton & Duantsey were the two main events to benefits, and I had hoped to get to Osberton, but an early flight to Europe for my day job left me the local option of Dauntsey, and I’m very pleased it did.

I’ve been trying to get to Dauntsey for the last 3 years, the previous two with my horse. This event is a welcome replacement to the fabulous Charlton Park event, taking over it’s slot in the calendar, and being only a stone’s throw away hasn’t had to compete for entries. I think there were 800 odd entries.