This weekend, the French show jumping teams traveled to Rome for the CSIO5* and to Lisbon for the CSIO3*. In Rome, the team won the Nations Cup. In Lisbon, the four musketeers Cédric Hurel, Max Thirouin, Aurélie Leroy and Olivier Perreau took second place in the EEF Nations Cup series behind Ireland. Great performances repeated in the Grand Prix where Max Thirouin and Utopie Villelongue emerged victorious by achieving the only double clear round. Olivier Perreau and GL Events Dorai d’Aiguilly are third, Cédric Hurel and Fantasio Floreval Z fourth. Max Thirouin returned to this weekend.
You joined the team for Lisbon at the last moment, replacing Robin Le Squeren. How did you approach this Nations Cup?
I took it all with great pleasure, a few days ago I was injured and I could hardly walk. In Vichy at the jump-off my mare was afraid of another horse and made a very violent U-turn which tore my psoas by three centimeters. I couldn’t do the French Pro Elite Championship, which was magnificent this year with the organization of GL Events alongside a CSI4*. I started going up two days before the Grand National of Tours Pernay. I felt so good that I went. We finished sixth in the Grand Prix Pro Elite. For two years Utopia had had a little slack because of a little osteoarthritis that bothered her below the vertebrae. Since the beginning of the year, she has been present every time, we have done three Grand Nationals and each time she is ranked. Edouard (Coupérie, assistant national coach) called me on Monday explaining that Robin could not come to Lisbon and offered to take his place. I quickly found a farrier to lay the mortises for running on grass. And above all, I thank Barbara and Cédric Hurel who immediately offered to share a small truck with me to leave as quickly as possible to get there on time.
How was the Nations Cup?
We were a great team with Aurélien Leroy, Olivier Perreau and Cédric Hurel. We chose to put Cédric Hurel and Fantasio Floreval Z as openers, and they did a magnificent clear round. Behind I could do the same. Aurélien made a very small mistake but we teamed up with him and in the second round he was the clear rounder (laughs). For my part, I rode the double a little too hard thinking about the width of the oxer, and I make a mistake on the front bar instead of waiting and being more patient. I felt my mare so well that in the Grand Prix I rode with more patience.
What is your assessment of the weekend? How did Utopia behave?
We had a lot of heat at the start of the weekend, which was difficult for the horses. We all teamed up, we put up curtains to provide shade, Aurélien lent me a fan. The Grand Prix went well, we passed at the end and we were only four clear rounds. On the track she was perfect and in the paddock exemplary. The course of the first lap was like a dream she was perfect. Leaving the track on the first lap, I said to myself, that’s it, this Grand Prix is for me, I have to hold on and do well. We were 12 in the jump-off, all four points were very fast. The clear rounds before me scored four points. In the jump-off, I rode her with the idea of doing faultless but faster than the others, so as not to risk scoring four points by being too slow. I wanted to put pressure on the Belgian Gudrun Patteet who was coming after. And Utopia was extraordinary, she jumped fabulously well.
What will be the continuation of your program with Utopia?
My wish with this performance would be to make other good competitions. Now I’m going to do the CSI3* in Compiègne where they did a great job with the track. I would then like to redo the 5* in Dinard where Utopia had already arrived 6e of the Grand Prize.
Wearing the blue jacket is also something that carries you?
My goal was to be at my best for this Nations Cup, I wasn’t thinking of the Grand Prix yet. My objective would also be to find a second horse, because in these competitions my primary objective is the team event, I find that extraordinary. It’s true that when you make a mistake you blame yourself for the others but when you come out with no faults it’s fantastic.
Young horses of the future in your stables?
I have four/five horses which will take six years and which make you dream: Chavez Z, Rebel du Cœur D Collines, Rebelline de Kwakenbeek, Hoolywood de Lessac, I think they are cracks. I also have Gorille Doral who is 6 years old who is riding. And there is a Frenchy Meniljean gelding. At first I bought it to trade because I saw that it had a lot of qualities but the more I ride it the more I tell myself that I have to keep it, maybe it will be able to come and support Utopia , it has great potential.
Full results HERE.