Saturday, October 27, 2012

HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012/2013: Paget shows all his promise at Pau By Kate Green

Jonathan Paget (NZL), who was foot-perfect across country on Clifton Promise to take the lead at Les Etoiles de Pau (FRA), opening leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012/2013. (Kit Houghton/FEI)
Lausanne (SUI), 27 October 2012

HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012/2013: Paget shows all his promise at Pau
By Kate Green
Jonathan Paget (NZL) rode across country with typical New Zealand verve to take a slender lead at the end of a thrilling day at Les Etoiles de Pau, the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012/2013.
Olympic champion Michael Jung (GER) is breathing down Paget’s neck after an equally classy display on Leopin FST, while Paget’s compatriot Andrew Nicholson, who steered two horses round clear and inside the optimum time, is third on Nereo, and young Astier Nicolas (FRA) thrilled the large home crowd with a flamboyant clear on Jhakti du Janlie to claim overnight fourth.

Just one Jumping rail covers the top four riders after a day of unexpected drama over a Cross Country course which rewarded bold, committed riding.

As predicted, the early fences proved influential. Dressage leaders Christopher Burton (AUS) and Underdiscussion had a runout at the narrow fence at four and later retired after a further stop at the third water complex (fence 23).

Bill Levett (AUS), seventh after Dressage on Hippolyte, and Karin Donckers (BEL), eighth on Lamicell Charizard, refused at the imposing water complex at fence six and both rider subsequently decided to call it a day.\

Regular Pau visitor Oliver Townend (GBR) was eliminated when Sonas Rovatio missed the bank out of the water and fell at 6d, and 2010 winner Andreas Dibowski (GER) retired when FRH Butts Avedon stopped halfway over the log into the water at 6c. Buck Davidson (USA), riding Ballynoe Castle RM, and Laura Collett (GBR) on the former show hunter Noble Bestman also gave up after stops here.

The two most experienced competitors in the field, Mary King (GBR) and Mark Todd (NZL), both landed on the floor in surprise incidents.

King’s Imperial Cavalier, sixth after Dressage, slipped on landing after fence nine, a hay wagon, while Todd’s Major Milestone hit the spread at fence 19. Neither horse was hurt, and the riders were on their feet immediately, more frustrated than anything else. In an unfortunate day for the British rider, she also retired her first ride Kings Temptress after a runout at four.

Paget’s performance was all the more creditable as he only started riding 10 years ago, his first introduction being a bronco-riding competition in Australia. His progress has been meteoric, with individual seventh place at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, fifth at Burghley in 2011 and 2012, and a team bronze medal and 10th place at the London Olympic Games on Clifton Promise.   
“This was a different sort of course for me but it rode better than I expected,” said Paget, who is known on the circuit as Jock. “I found it quite mentally challenging, but the ground held up well and was not too slippery.”

The Olympic champion was also pleased with his day’s work. “Leopin really proved himself today,” said Michael Jung, who still achieved the optimum time of 10 minutes 54 seconds despite taking a long route at the second water complex (fence 12) where the quick option comprised two sharply angled brushes. “He has a long galloping stride and I knew I could do a long route and still get the time.”
Andrew Nicholson’s two rides were typically smooth – he is also in seventh place on Mr Cruise Control. “Both horses felt lovely and it’s been an enjoyable day,” said the HSBC Rankings leader. “I’m lucky to have them to ride. I always like this course because you’ve got to be switched on.”

Astier Nicolas, who has been based in Britain training with Olympic Ground Jury member Nick Burton at Hartpury, was visibly thrilled to find himself in such elevated company, especially as Pau is his local event – he lives near Toulouse. “I had a runout on both my other CCI4* rides so I’m very pleased to have this under my belt. Perhaps I am more mature now,” he smiled.

“I always thought I could go clear at a CCI4*, but now I know I can. It took me a little while to get into the course and my horse was a bit hesitant at the first water, but he was great after that. He’s an honest horse that goes for the flags and having everyone cheering really helped me.”
Last year’s winner William Fox-Pitt (GBR) proved an assured pathfinder on the stallion Chilli Morning, on which he has risen seven places to sixth. He also had a great round on the nine-year-old Bay My Hero, now in fifth.

Fox-Pitt admitted to feeling apprehensive before Cross Country, partly due to the overnight torrential rain and black clouds which only lifted just as the CCI4* began, and partly because he was concerned the stallion, a new ride this season, might come unstuck at fence six. He is also nervously awaiting the arrival of his third child, as his wife Alice is due to give birth at any minute.

“I’ve had a few things playing on my mind this week and it was in the back of my head that if the horses didn’t go well I could just go home early, but it’s all turned out a lot better than expected!” he said.

“I’ve had quite an interrupted season with Chilli but he is accepting me more. He gave me a lovely ride. And with Bay My Hero it’s a bit like riding my old 14.2hh pony. He knows where to go and is clever and cat-like, despite the fact that the ground was more slippery by the time I went on him.”
At the end of the day, there were 33 completions from 62 starters with 22 clear rounds, 11 of which were inside the optimum time. The scores are agonizingly close at the top, so a thrilling Jumping finale is assured. Watch all the action live on FEI TV tomorrow.

Results after Cross Country
1 Jonathan Paget/Clifton Promise (NZL) 36.7 + 0 = 36.7
2 Michael Jung/Leopin FST (GER) 38.3 + 0 = 38.3
3 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL) 39.0 + 0 = 39.0
4 Astier Nicolas/Jhakti du Janlie (FRA) 39.5 + 0 = 39.5
5 William Fox-Pitt/Bay My Hero (GBR) 41.7 + 0 = 41.7
6 William Fox-Pitt/Chilli Morning (GBR) 44.7 + 0 = 44.7
7 Andrew Nicholson/Mr Cruise Control (NZL) 45.7 + 0 = 45.7
8 Kevin McNab/Clifton Pinot (AUS) 50.2 + 0 = 50.2
9 Gemma Tattersall/Stormhill Kossack (GBR) 42.6 + 8.0 = 60.6
10 Caroline Powell/Onwards And Upwards (NZL) 53.2 + 0 = 53.2
Full results on
Follow the action on FEI TV
Download the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012/2013 press kit:
HSBC’s Training Bursary
At the centre of HSBC’s sponsorship is a commitment to the development of the sport of Eventing at every level. As part of its support of the HSBC FEI Classics™, HSBC has introduced a Training Bursary. This is a unique award which is presented to the highest placed rider never to have previously completed a 4-star level event. The winning rider receives a training voucher to the value of US $1,000 to be spent on sessions with a trainer of the athlete’s choice approved by the FEI and National Federation. 
HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012/2013 calendar
1 Les Etoiles de Pau CCI 4* (FRA) - 24-28 October 2012
2 Australian International 3 Day Event (AUS) - 22-25 November 2012
3 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event (USA) - 25-28 April 2013
4 Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR) - 3-6 May 2013
5 Luhmühlen CCI 4* (GER) - 13-16 June 2013
6 Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR) - 5-8 September 2013
Notes to editors
HSBC, the platinum partner of the FEI and global sponsor of Eventing, has supported the HSBC FEI Classics™ series, which unites the top end of the international Eventing circuit, since 2008.
In our HSBC FEI Hub:, you can access the HSBC Rankings, past series news and the information below:
HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012 Final Standings (full 2012 standings here).
1 William Fox-Pitt (GBR) 40 points ($150,000, Series Champion)
2 Andrew Nicholson (NZL) 39 ($75,000)
3 Alison Springer (USA) 17 ($50,000)
4 Michael Jung (GER) 15 ($33,000)
5 Stuart Tinney (AUS) 15 ($25,000)
Prize money
The HSBC FEI Classics™ prize fund is the largest on offer in the sport of Eventing on an annual basis. At the end of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2012/2013 season, the five riders with the highest number of points collected across the six HSBC FEI Classics™ events will be awarded their share of a total fund of US$333,000 split as follows:
1st - US$150,000 (Series Champion)
2nd - US$75,000
3rd - US$50,000
4th - US$33,000
5th - US$25,000
HSBC Rankings
The rider at the top of the HSBC Rankings at the end of the 2012 Eventing season will receive a US $50,000 bonus. The winning rider will be announced in December 2012.
Watch the action LIVE from Pau on FEI TV, the FEI’s official video website:
28 October - Jumping: 14.15 CET

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