William Fox-Pitt (GBR) showed the amazing strength of his horsepower when his exciting young horses Oslo and Lionheart finished first and third at Les Etoiles des Pau (FRA), the final leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™ 2011.
However, it was the unstoppable Mary King (GBR) who claimed the 150,000 USD prize, the biggest single award in Eventing, as HSBC FEI Classics™ champion for 2011. She clinched the title with a magnificent clear Jumping round on Imperial Cavalier, which elevated her six places to fourth.
King has been placed no lower than eighth at all five of the HSBC FEI Classics™ events this year, which is a remarkable achievement. She is the first woman to win the title since the series started in 2008 and has kept it in British hands for the fourth consecutive year.
Fox-Pitt, who now looks likely to win a 50,000 USD bonus as leader of the HSBC Rider Rankings, held onto second place and 75,000 USD. In addition, as Pau is also the first event of the 2012 HSBC FEI Classics™, he is now in pole position for next season.
Andrew Nicholson (NZL), second at Pau on Mr Cruise Control, and Clayton Fredericks (AUS), sixth on Bendigo, both rocketed into the top five of the HSBC FEI Classics™ and will take home 50,000 USD and 25,000 USD respectively.
Piggy French (GBR), who was not competing at Pau, slipped a place to fourth (33,000 USD), and both Mark Todd (NZL) and Andreas Dibowski (NZL), winners of Badminton and Luhmühlen, were pushed out of the top five cash prizes in the final moments of the season.
“It’s great to win a major prize like this,” said King, who intends to spend the money on a new lorry. “We riders all work hard and do not always win a lot of prize money, so something like this makes you feel recognised as a sportsman when a multi-national company such as HSBC backs our sport.
“Fate has played a part in all this. If I hadn’t fallen off Imperial Cavalier at Luhmühlen [in the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships], I wouldn’t be winning this money here.”
Andrew Nicholson said he had come to Pau with no expectations, so was delighted to have the bonus of HSBC FEI Classics™ money. “Mr Cruise Control is probably my third choice for the Olympics,” he said. “He is a big horse, but he gets better every year.”
The Jumping phase at Pau proved highly influential, and an extraordinary number of horses hit the first fence. Fox-Pitt, on Oslo, and King were the only riders to finish the competition on their dressage scores. There were only five penalty-free rounds from the 50 to complete the competition.
Fox-Pitt left the overnight leader Christopher Burton (AUS) on Holstein Park Leilani no room for error, and three fences down dropped the pair to eighth place.
Burton’s compatriot, Wendy Schaeffer, suffered a far worse fate, however, and was eliminated when unseated from Koyuna Sun Dancer.
“When I had such a bad round on Macchiato [20 faults] and hit the first fence on Lionheart, I became very nervous,” admitted Fox-Pitt. “My round on Oslo is my first clear Jumping round at Pau. It’s been a terrific week and I’m lucky to have a horse like him.”
HSBC Training Bursary
Philippe Brun (FRA) won the HSBC Training Bursary worth 1,000 USD as the highest-placed CCI4* debutant, in 31st place on Nectar de la Charboniére, a 10-year-old Selle Francais by Gambit du Rozel. The pair finished 30th at Saumur CCI3* in May.
Brun, 47, said: “As I’m an amateur rider, competing at CCI4* level has been my goal and, thanks to HSBC, I’ve achieved it. I’d now like to train and compete in England with my horse. The HSBC FEI Classics™ are very important here in France, because Eventing benefits greatly from this sort of publicity.”
About the HSBC FEI Classics™ Champion
Mary King’s path to victory began with third place at Badminton on Imperial Cavalier. She followed this by winning Kentucky on Kings Temptress, a mare she bred herself (she was also second on Fernhill Urco). She was eighth in Luhmühlen on Apache Sauce, third at Burghley on Kings Temptress, and fourth at Pau on Imperial Cavalier.
King, 50, has represented Britain at 14 championships, including four Olympic Games, winning Olympic team silver and bronze (2004 and 2008), world team gold (1994 and 2010), team silver (2006), four European team golds, team bronze, plus individual bronze (1995) and silver (2007). King has won Badminton twice, in 1992 and 2000, and Burghley (1996).
She is married to David, a farmer, and lives near Sidmouth, Devon. Her daughter, Emily, represented Great Britain at this year’s FEI Junior European Championships.
About the Pau Winner
William Fox-Pitt, King’s team mate on many occasions, has won 46 CCIs, including 10 CCI4*s: Badminton (2004), Burghley a record six times (1994, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2011), Luhmühlen (2008), Kentucky (2010) and Pau (2011). He is the only rider to have won five out of the world’s six CCI4*s.
He has also represented Britain 15 times in championships, winning Olympic silver (2004) and bronze (2008), world team gold and individual silver on Cool Mountain (2010) plus team silver in 2006 and team bronze in 2002. He has six European team gold medals, team bronze and two individual silvers (1997 and 2005). Fox-Pitt, 42, is married to Alice, a television racing commentator. They live in Sturminster Newton, Dorset, and have two young sons, Oliver and Thomas.
Oslo, a nine-year-old French-bred by Landou, was bought as a stallion and was only gelded in 2009. He is owned by a large syndicate, Fox-Pitt Eventing, nearly all of whom were out in Pau to witness their horse’s victory.
Final Results
1 William Fox-Pitt/Oslo (GBR) 44.2 + 0 + 0 = 44.2
2 Andrew Nicholson/Mr Cruise Control (NZL) 46.2 + 0 + 4 = 50.2
3 William Fox-Pitt/Lionheart (GBR) 46.7 + 0 + 4 = 50.7
4 Mary King/Imperial Cavalier (GBR) 51.0 + 0 + 0 = 51.0
5 Nicolas Touzaint/Hildago de L’Ile (FRA) 46.3 + 1.2 + 4 = 51.5
6 Clayton Fredericks/Bendigo (AUS) 43.7 + 1.2 + 8 = 52.9
7 Lucy Wiegersma/Simon Porloe (GBR) 45.5 + 0.8 + 8 = 54.3
8 Christopher Burton/Holstein Park Leilani (AUS) 43.7 + 0 + 12 = 55.7
9 Clayton Fredericks/Dunges Laurent Rose (AUS) 54.0 + 0 + 4 = 58.0
10 Frank Ostholt/Mr Medicott (GER) 47.3 + 0 + 11 = 58.3