At the beginning of the week, certain experienced spectators were already alluding to the possibility of a win in Pau for world no.2 Jonelle Price. Following the success of Tim, her husband, in the penultimate CCI5*-L of the season in Elkton (USA), the scenario set to unfold in Pau was full of suspense.

Ranked 13th after the dressage test, the 42-year-old made a great comeback after the cross-country competition, finishing without a single jumping penalty and just 1.2 points for slightly overshooting the optimal time. She drew on all her innate talent and level-headedness to withstand the pressure from Karim Laghouag, who rode an impressive flawless show jumping round, before a home crowd of spectators on the edge of their seats at the idea of celebrating a 5th French win. Karim settled for a well-deserved second place, which confirmed the comeback of Triton Fontaine, his partner from the Tokyo Olympics, who was in really great shape.

David Doel (GBR), in the lead after cross-country, had his sights set on the title…but a rail on the final jump dashed his hopes, giving his rival Jonelle Price first place on a plate. It’s the young woman’s 3rd victory at 5* level, and her first since 2018. Hector Payne (GBR), less well-known but no less talented, took third place on the podium, a first for him in a CCI5*-L.

Karim Laghouag was joined by four of his compatriots, who achieved great placings at the end of this weekend where emotions ran high: Maxime Livio/Carouzo Bois Marotin (7th), Luc Château/Vient du Mont (9th), Jean-Lou Bigot/Utrillo du Halage (12th), and Régis Prud’hon/Tarastro (16th). The British delegation placed six riders in the top 16, three of them in the top six.

With this victory, the Prices settle as sovereigns on both the international –Tim and Jonelle respectively ranked first and second in the last World Championships – and Pau CCI 5* scenes since Tim claimed the title here last year in this very same arena.

The atmosphere in Pau, with its fantastic public, and the emblematic Domaine de Sers set the tone for this discipline where fair play and respect towards the athletes, both horses and riders, are essential. With more than 40,000 visitors in four days, the CCI5* of Pau confirms its place among the major events in the international calendar of equestrian sports events. We’ll see you again in 2023 from October 26th to 29th for the 33rd edition!

Rider’s reactions

Jonelle Price (NZL), winner: “I’m absolutely delighted, now Tim (my husband) and I have the “his & hers” versions of the Pau 5* trophy! I’m so proud of my mare Grappa Nera. The co-owners have been very patient because it’s not always been an easy ride with this young mare. This weekend, she performed well in all three tests. It’s always a special thing to win a 5* competition. I won my first two back-to-back in 2018, and this one is a great victory!”

Karim Laghouag (FRA), 2nd: “I am really pleased, it’s a beautiful edition. I’ve been coming here, to Pau, for years and I was able to see the extent to which the competition has evolved over time. It is definitely one of the top eventing competitions in the world. It also happens to be a show that attracts lots of people, which is crucial for our sport and our discipline. Pascal Sayous takes good care of the public so people keep coming back year after year! I was in a difficult position at the beginning of the season, and now revenge is sweet, even though it will not bring back my horse Eton, who died a few weeks ago.”

Pascal Sayous, President of the show: “The weekend was filled with suspense. When you have skilled people on your team, you can let the story write itself. I asked Pierre Michelet and Yann Royan to design cross country and show jumping courses that could hardly be completed in time and without the slightest mistake, and they took on the challenge! My only achievement was to choose the right people.”

Thierry Touzaint, French team coach and manager: “Placing four horses in the top twelve made for a great edition this year! I’m very satisfied with the results. We weren’t on top of the dressage this year, and there is still work to be done with the horses we brought to Pau. We were hoping to climb back up the ranking after the cross-country competition, because we knew the horses would perform well – it’s their strong point – and the fact that the course wasn’t an easy one to ride, really helped us make a comeback. The show jumping round also shook up the leaderboard. It’s a real shame for Karim, he really deserved to win, and missed the title by a hair’s breadth. The winner is a very experienced rider, and she touched two rails, but that’s what sport is all about! Triton has come back to the highest level of competition and that’s really reassuring for the future, I think we’ll be able to count on him for a while yet! We’ve got quite a few sound horses for the future, so lots of possibilities for the European Championships at the Haras du Pin next year.”

Final Results HERE.