If Strzegom proved one thing, it was that eventing is rarely predictable. The leaderboard changed dramatically throughout but a young French team proved they could fight until the end, climbing from last to first in the fifth leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ in Poland today. Their score of 145.5 was just a whisker ahead of cross-country leaders Sweden, who wound up on 146.6. Poland delighted their home crowd by finishing in third on 168.3.

All four riders were making their first appearance for the French Team in a Nations Cup competition, but this did not stop them beating stiff competition, including a number of leading riders. These included reigning Olympic champion Julia Krajewski (GER) and winner of six Olympic medals Andrew Hoy (AUS) who at 65 years old was the most experienced competitor in the clubhouse.

The French had a disappointing start in the Dressage phase, where they finished last of the five teams which came forward with Australia out in front. The cross-country phase proved influential, particularly the time with very few riders finishing without penalties. French rider Camille Laisney was one of them and also came out overall winner of the CCIO4*-S.

She was full of praise for her talented French-bred mare, Avalone. “It was a really nice day. For me the dressage was not really good, but I was last to go in cross-country yesterday and I saw that the time was hard to get and my horse is really fast so I say ‘ok I can do something here.’ This is the first time I have come here and the cross-country is amazing. The ground is perfect and all the fences were nice. The showjumping arena is impressive and that can be challenging for horses. I am going to take her of her (horse) as she is just the best.”

Twenty-year-old Verane Nicaud has no doubt impressed French selectors ahead of the FEI European Young Rider Championships which take place next month at this very venue.

“It was an amazing week and many beautiful memories. We all get the chance to do our first Nations Cup here so that was a big experience for all of us and this is part of a dream which we share.

“My next goal is the Young Rider European Championships which is here (at Strzegom). We just tried our best out there and it paid. The cards were really changing after the cross-country, and the time was hard to make, but we are all happy.”

My next goal [beyond that] will be a four-star long like Boekelo. We came with nothing to lose and we win, and that was a dream. We hope we have shown that France is ready to compete well at the Olympics in Paris.”

Marie Bouchanville and Sebastien At made up the French quartet and were both full of praise for the venue. “I really like Strzegom. We are really far away, it took two days to come but the weather was really nice and the cross-country was lovely to ride,” said Bouchanville.

Technical delegate at Strzegom, Giuseppe Della Chiesa, highlighted how well supported the event remains, and how useful that can be for Nations needing team practice ahead of Championships. “It is great to see how much this event has improved over time. The good thing of the sport is that everywhere is different. Strzegom has been put on the map because there is a good atmosphere and a well-supported atmosphere.”

In just two appearances, France have remained unbeatable in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ Series this season, winning the opening leg in Montelibretti back in March. The nation has shown strength and depth in their Eventing squad over the last few season. They have used the Series to give both less experienced riders and more seasoned team members useful practice competing as a team.

France is now out in front first in the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ standings with 200 points, just ahead of Italy and Switzerland who have 180 points. The Series will now move to Arville in Belgium next month (15-18th August), for the sixth event in this eight-leg Series which concludes at Boekelo (NED) in October.

Full results here.