Collett Collects only 5 star Event in 2020 – News of Racing and World Cup

The weekend saw the first and only five star horse trial eventing take place in 2020 in France at Pau, won by Laura Collett. There was also top class racing around the globe, on what was mainly atrocious heavy ground. To make a change, there were also World Cup qualifiers in the USA, the first FEI event since March in the USA, and another in Poland.

Eventing

The one and only 5 star CCI in the world this year took place in Pau in south west France, all the others succumbed to the Covid epidemic. There was a smaller field than usual with only 48 runners in the field, of which 19 came from the UK. After the first two days of dressage, Laura Collett riding London 52 was at the top of the leader board in a very close contest. The judges, Andrew Bennie from Australia, (chairman) and Nikki Herbert from GB and Xavier Le Sauce from France had the top seven within 4 penalties. Just 0.7 penalties behind Laura was Christopher Burton from Australia riding Graf Liberty and in third, again from GB was Piggy French riding Brookfield Inocent.

Laura Collett – seen here at Badminton 2019 on Bass

There was one withdrawal after the dressage stage, leaving 47 to take on the course designed by Pierre Michelet of France. This was certainly a 5 star cross country course, but was kind in that it was not too technical as proved by no less than eight getting round in clear and with no time penalties. One of the eight was Laura Collet, who thus maintained the lead on her dressage score. Piggy French ended the day in second as she had no penalties to add either. However, Tim Price, who was fourth after the dressage riding Wesko just finished outside the optimum time with 0.4 of a penalty which moved him up to third. Christopher Burton slipped from second to 29th as he had a bad day at the office for cross country day. Alexander Bragg, Tom McEwen and Oliver Townend all had superb cross country rounds with Alexander Bragg improving from 7th to 4th, Tom from 12th to 5th and Oliver from 17th to 6th. There was only a fence between the top three before the show jumping round. The show jumping round saw 34 take part with 16 of them getting a clear round. This left the overnight leader board unchanged, giving Laura Collett her first ever win at 5 star level.

Racing

In the million pound prize money, Cox Plate, which many people see as the Group 1 prep race for the Melbourne Cup, Camelot was the sire of two of the first three home. The hundredth running of the race run at the Moonee Valley course saw Sir Dragonette take the winners podium with old stable mate Armoury in second. It was a close and exciting race with the winner being held up at the rear until halfway when he moved to mid-division until in the final furlong when ridden out to win by 1 ¼ lengths. Formerly trained by Aidan O’Brien, son of Camelot, now sire of six Group 1 winners, is trained by Ciaran Mayher and David Eustace following his sale last month from Coolmore. Armoury, still trained by Aidan O’Brien beat the third Camelot sired colt Russian Camelot by ¾ of a length. The winning jockey was Glen Boss and there were 14 runners.

The final Group 1 in the UK was The Vertem Futurity Stakes over a mile for 2 year olds. There were eight runners in a strong renewal of the race as the favourite Wembley was withdrawn before the race due to the heavy ground conditions. This left Godolphin’s One Ruler as favourite. Mac Swiney, owned, bred and trained by Jim Bolger from Ireland, never one to send horses out for theirs or his health, tracked the leader Cobh (who weakened in the final furling,) in a slow run race until the two furlong marker, when jockey Keven Manning pushed the colt to the lead, which he maintained until the end, winning by ¾ of a length ahead of One Ruler. In third was Baradar who also ran a good race but didn’t have the legs to challenge for the lead.

Mark Johnston takes a double Group 1 win in France

At Longchamp, France, 8 runners slopped through the heavy going for the 1 mile 7 furlong Prix Royal Oak. Mark Johnston supplied the winner, Subjectivist, with jockey Joe Fanning on board, winning the race from pillar to post. Valia was second and was also the warm favourite. He started slowly and was always in the rear until the final furlong or so, when he came through horses but didn’t have the legs to out run the winner. Holdthasigreen was third.

In St Cloud, The Criterium, one of the final two Group 1s for 2 year olds over a mile was run with 7 runners over 1 mile, again trudging through the dreadfully heavy ground. The Aidan O’Brien trained winner, Van Gogh was the easy winner having run very freely at the start. He beat home Normandy Bridge, who led for most of the race, but hadn’t the legs to see out the race. Jadoomi was third. In the second race, The Criterium De St Cloud, this time over 1 mile 2 furlongs with seven runners,  Gear Up, trained again by Mark Johnston from the UK won, making most of front running, in usual Johnston style, and winning by only a neck from French trained Botanik. (Andre Fabre) In third was Makaloun.

Dressage and Showjumping World Cup Qualifiers

Tryon – North Carolina

There were two World Cuo Qualifiers this weekend. The first in The USA, the first CDI held in the USA since March was held Tryon in North Carolina, was taken by Abraham Pugh riding the 14 year old Trakehner stallion Elfenperekt, who won both the Grand Prix and Freestyle.

In Poland at Zakrzow, Benjamin Werndl rode Daily Mirror, in both the Grand Prix and Freestyle, in a German clean sweep of both classes. Fellow German Frederick Wandres riding Duke of Britain was second and Carlina Scholz on Tarantino was third.

In Tryon, the World Cup Qualifier class, the President’s Cup was a 4 star show jumping competition in which 48 started. Attracting riders from around the world, there were 15 clear rounds to go through to the jump off of which eleven went onto collect a double clear. The winner was from The USA, Todd Minikus riding Amex Z taking the round in 36.52 seconds. The runner up was Karl Cook riding Caillou 24 just ½ a second behind and there was an equal for third between Beat Mandli on Galan S and Lillie Keenan riding Fasther. The course was designed by Anthony D’Ambrosio from the USA who had 13 jumps with 17 jumping efforts in a time allowed of 52 seconds.

Other General News

Following the forced withdrawal of all the O’Brien runner on Arc day at Longchamp at the beginning of the month due to feed contamination, it now transpires that the cattle hormone Zilpaterol has been found in feed manufactured by many of the top brands. With so many well-known brands caught up in this extraordinary affair, the British Federation announced that if a horse in competition was found to have the drug in any test, the authorities would take no action. The moratorium would last for two weeks.

In a rather odd move, the FEI have announced that The European Dressage and Showjumping Championships have been re-instated and will be held in venues in Germany in late August and early September 2021 following the planned re-scheduling of the 2020 Olympic Games. The original decision was to cancel the Europeans as there would not be enough time within the year to put them on.

Meanwhile, the Christmas show at Frankfurt in Germany has been promoted by the FEI to a World Cup Qualifier as there have been so many cancellations thus far for the competition. It is to be held from the 17th to 20th of December.

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