We will long remember Kevin Staut’s great victory in the Top Ten Rolex of the CHI of Genève (2nd French winner). Staut is also the best French rider of the year, still steady in the top 10 of the FEI ranking this year, with 6 months in the top 5 including 4 months at the 3rd place.
Still on French riders; we think Julien Epaillard is worth mentioning, with its many big victories, including the World Cup of Bordeaux, the Global Champions Tour of the Paris Eiffel Jumping, the Longines Speed Challenge of Paris, the World Cup of London…
We recall the beautiful win of Peder Fredricson at the European Championships (that occur every 2 years): he became European Champion after being crowned Olympic Vice-Champion at Rio last year. Ireland is the European Team Champion, brilliantly driven by Rodrigo Pessoa.
McClain Ward was impressive at Omaha: completing 4 clear rounds in 4 rounds, wining the speed challenge, the Grand Prix, and the World Cup Final.
For us, this year’s break out riders were the Italians Alberto Zorzi (many podiums and a victory at the Global Champions Tour of Monte Carlo among others) and Lorenzo de Luca who signed his best year with many beautiful victores (Global of Valkenswaard, Paris Eiffel Jumping, Global of Shanghai…).
The big surprise of the year: Pedro Junqueira Muylaert with its win at La Baule in the Grand Prix.
Nick Skelton, Team Champion at the London Olympics and Olympic Champion at the Rio Olympics, has decided to take a well-deserved retirement at the age of 59, at the same time as his champion Big Star.
The 2017 edition of the Grand Prix of the Saut Hermes left us with a bitter taste, with a course that seemed too hard and almost tricking for horses and their riders.
This year was marked with many other great sport performances, such as the victory of Simon Delestre in the World Cup Grand Prix of Lyon, Bosty in Rome, Daniel Desseur in Oslo, and Bassem Mohamed in Doha, to only name a few. We also have to mention Harrie Smolders, who won with a large margin the Global Champions Tour circuit.
It is impossible not to mention the queen Isabell Werth, who signed once again a remarkable year, breaking her own record in January during the World Cup of Amsterdam wining almost all big competitions after that, and finishing the year with 3 horses in the top 6 worldwide.
We recall her beautiful victory in the European Championships, after an amazing battle with Sönke Rothenberger who revealed himself. The young German, only 22 at the time, had produced a stunning ride during the Grand Prix Freestyle that got him the 2nd place with 90,614%, a hair’s breadth from Werth (90,982%). This was actually the first time that such a competition saw 2 couples pas the 90% mark.
This year, Hans Peter Minderhoud accomplished what we could even call a sporting feat: he defeated Isabell Werth, a first since the Rio Olympics. In the Freestyle of the FEI World Cup Dressage of ‘S-Hertogenbosch (March), the Dutch got the average of 84.890%, better than Werth’s 83.300%.
This exploit was reiterated during the opening leg of the World Cup Dressage (Herning) where the young Danish Cathrine Dufour enjoyed a home-win, beating the world n1.
As for the French riders, we have to stress the beautiful tests of Ludovic Henry and Arnaud Serre during the World Cup Grand Prix of Lyon. Both riders achieved strong performances beyond the 70% mark during the Grand Prix Freestyle. Ludovic Henry also beat his personal best in Salzburg a few weeks ago, scoring 75.6%.
We also retain the solid performance of our French riders last July that allowed them to win the Dressage Nations Cup at Hickstead.
Finally, José Letartre is the best French riders of the European Para Dressage Championships; he finished 4th with a nice score of 70.243% – only two-hundredth away from the podium. Two of the four French riders were taking part in the Grand Prix Freestyle: Céline Gerny finished 5th and Letartre 6th of their respective categories.
Gwendolen Fer achieves the first major win of her career during the CCI 4* of Pau, which allows her to go from the 86th to 24th place worldwide. It is the third consecutive French win in this event, after Astier Nicolas and Maxime Livio.
Michael Jung once again performs amazingly and retains his title of world n1, which he acquired more than 2 years ago. He wins the circuit FEI Classics, among others.
We recognize the amazing performance of Karim Florent Laghouag, king of indoor eventing. The French won for the 3rd time the Cross Indoor at Bordeaux, more recently won that of Paris, and then reiterates at Geneva for his last event of the year.
We remember the sensational performance of the German rider Bettina Hoy during the European Championships. She came close to her personal best in Dressage by riding one of the most beautiful tests (24.6) in the history of a big championship.
Following these European Championships, Germany actually lost its team Silver medal after Samourai du Thot, Julia Krajewski’s horse, tested positive. ( HERE you will find the article we wrote about this affair and doping)
We are proud of our French rider Maxime Livio, who is now at the 3rd place of the world eventing ranking.
We also remember the victories of Andrew Nicholson in Badminton, Karim Laghouag in Pompadour, and Astier Nicolas at the Mondial du Lion.
4. Other important events
Horse Ball: for the first time in 25 years the French team, although great favorite, tilted against Spain and finished 2nd of the Pro Elite European Championships. On the other hand, the French women’s team did win their final (7-4 against Spain), and the young (under 16 yo) also won a new european title in their category (12-5 against Italy).
Volting: Clément Taillez, French Vice-Champion, wins the bronze medal at the European Championships. The German Erik Oese is named European Champion. Lower performance for the French team who unfortunately had to forfeit for the wellbeing of their horse Wizner.
Racing (Gallop): French and European record for Christophe Soumillon who totals 302 victories in 2017.
Reining: 3rd place for the French team at the Junior World Rening Championships, with a beautiful Gold medal for Axel Pesek (17 yo).
Driving: we also recall the beautiful performance of the Swiss Jérôme Voutaz who wins two categories in the European Championships and also becomes World Vice-Champion behing the untouchable Boyd Exell (Australian – 7th title at this level). The World n1 once again wins almost all the major events of the year, only beaten at the World Cup of London by the Dutch Ijsbrand Chardon.
Olympic Games: it is now official, the 2024 Olympic Games will take place in Paris.
5. The bad news
2017 was also marked by much sadder events. First, the end of the TV Channel Equidia Life, who had been sharing the passion for horses and equestrian sports to so many people since 2011.
We want to pay tribute to Espoir de la Mare, who left this world at 25 yo. The Selle Français allowed his rider Jean Teulère to win many international titles, and become World Champion and Olympic Team Champion in particular.
Baloubet du Rouet also ended his journey this year, at 28 yo. This Selle Français Stallion, great father, is the only horse to have won three times in a row the World Cup Jumping Final. He also became Olympic Champion with Rodrigo Pessoa.
Jean Rocherfort, ambassador and advocate for the equine industry, actor and breeder, died at the age of 87. Fernand Leredde also left us at the dawn of his 86 years. Creator of Haras des Rouges (Normandy), he raised Quidam de Revel, great breeding stallion for jumping, and bred many champions such as Papillon Rouge (Olympic Champion – Jumping).
Finally, we were very sorry to learn the death of the promising French eventing rider Maxime Debost, only 29 years old and father of a little boy, following an accident on the cross-country course of the CCI 1* of Châteaubriand.
Now that we have reviewed 2017, enjoy the holidays and we wish you a Happy New Year!