Maé Rinaldi and Boston du Verdon in gold, France in bronze

European eventing champions on the same Strzegom ground last year, Maé Rinaldi and Boston du Verdon scored a magnificent double by retaining their title this Sunday, August 7, 2022, while France, defending champion, is finally adorned with bronze. After the team silver medal won in show jumping on Friday, Les Bleuets therefore leave with three medals from the 2022 edition of the European Pony Championships.

The double for Maé Rinaldi and Boston du Verdon in eventing!

Winners of all the national and international competitions in which they have participated this season, including the French championship in Lamotte-Beuvron (41) in July, Maé Rinaldi and Boston du Verdon (owned by Brigitte Rinaldi), reigning European champions in individually and by teams, were the favourites. The couple announced the color on Friday by taking control of the competition after a successful dressage test granting them 25.6 penalties. Diligent and concentrated, the two accomplices held up the pressure by signing a maximum course – faultless and in time – on the cross-country on Saturday then a faultless one during the horse show on Sunday, thus maintaining their dressage score. The two accomplices win a second consecutive European title on the occasion of their last championships, Maé reaching the age limit to compete with the ponies at sixteen. We will also find the stallion of eleven with his little sister, Ella, for the rest of his sporting career.

The reaction of Maé Rinaldi, licensed at the Écuries de Champlong (42)

“I don’t realize yet, I don’t know how to describe this victory! Boston was very available on the three tests. I trained a little less well than usual but my pony pleased the judges. The cross was technical, but Boston rode well, with good jumps and a good stopwatch. For show jumping, he was still in great shape and jumped well. I obviously thank my pony, who is magical, my parents, who allow me to experience all this, the federal staff, Isabelle and Olivier Vincenot, the Boston breeders, as well as the whole French team, Zoé, Océane, Ambroise , Clement and Laurick.

France in bronze!

Gilles Viricel, team leader and national coach in office since the beginning of the year, had chosen to defend the tricolor colors a collective combining experience and new blood: Maé Rinaldi and Zoé Ballot, associated with Voltair de Lalande (property of his rider), were already in the team last year, while Ambroise Maindru and Versailles des Morins (owned by Carole and Charles Maindru) had only raced individually in 2021. Océane Villeton experienced her first continental deadline here with Babylon Night Graves (owned by Océane, Cécile and Christophe Villeton).

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Defending champions, the French team started the competition very well by taking the lead after dressage. Saturday, the cross reshuffled the cards. First there was a very nice maxi course also for Océane and her eleven-year-old gray, while Ambroise Maindru only added 2.8 time penalties to his dressage score at the reins of his thirteen-year-old gelding. Zoé Ballot, second provisionally after the first test in the saddle on her experienced chestnut, suffered a refusal at the end of the course on element 21B. Third before horse racing, France kept their place on the podium: Zoé Ballot and Voltair de Lalande finished their championship on a high note with a clear round, as did Maé Rinaldi with Boston du Verdon, while their two teammates both faulted on the entry of triple n°8. Les Bleuets finished with a collective score of 108.9 and gold went to Ireland (104.1).

In the individual ranking, we note the thirteenth place of Clément Tonon with Vidock de Berder (40.3, owned by Judith and Clément Hervieu), ahead of Océane Villeton with Babylon Night Graves (41.4) and Ambroise Maindru with Versailles des Morins (41.9).

The reaction of Gilles Viricel, accompanied throughout the championship by his assistant Romain Richomme

“We are very happy with these medals. We were very well placed after the dressage and we find ourselves in provisional bronze after the cross-country. During the show jumping, it was complicated because we lost this medal for a while, but we finally got it at the end of the race, which is satisfying to us.

Saturday, we were very disappointed for Zoé with her refusal at the end of the course. The group remained very united and it was even she who made the first round without fault today. This team spirit allows us to go for medals.

There is a very good atmosphere in the French clan. I discovered all this, Romain a little less than me. We did a preparation course in Jablines (77) with cohesion exercises, the young people get along very well. We had a leader, Maé, who gave us a good boost, especially for the cross country, where we were a little disappointed after Zoé’s refusal. We instructed Maé to play for the team but also for her in order to retain her title, which she did in a superb way. She had the ambition to win everything, which she did here but also all year round on the Tournée des As and international competitions. It’s sometimes unsettling for others because she puts pressure on them, but she’s a star!

There was also real competition between all the disciplines, with a common camp for eventing, show jumping and dressage. Saturday afternoon, as there was only cross country, all the riders of the France team were there to support their teammates. It was very buoyant as an atmosphere.”

Lou Ann Béraud at the foot of the show jumping podium

After their collective silver medal on Friday, the Bleuets were keen to bring back a second medal in show jumping, especially since Emma Gay Le Breton and Nohlan Vallat both approached the final with a clean score. The first round, delicate and faulty, shook up the established hierarchy. Lou Ann Béraud signed one of the four double clear rounds of the event, at the reins of Ungaro of Qofanny. A performance which allows the duo vice-champion of France to finish in fourth place with four points on the clock and to achieve the best tricolor result.

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Respectively associated with Bad Boy du Beau Mont and Daenerys d’Hurl’vent (owned by Jean Drexler and his rider), Emma Gay Le Breton and Nohlan Vallat shared sixth place with eight points at the end of the three days of competition. This Sunday, the reigning French champions faulted on the oxer at the entry of the double n°4 in the first round then on the oxer n°2 in the second. His teammate ended with a round without penalty after two faults on the first vertical then the ultimate oxer during his first pass.

Fleur Weijkamp and Orchard NL in the dressage final

Fleur Weijkamp and Orchard NL (owned by his rider), credited with 70.838% on Friday during the individual test, were the only French representatives to reach the final in music on Sunday. The duo, in bronze at the French championship in July, did not deserve and finished their first European championships with a sixteenth place. Their freestyle allowed them to get an average of 72.170%.

It should be noted that the fifteen-year-old rider, who took part in the Children’s Continental Championships last year, and her ten-year-old gelding, improved their personal bests during the three rounds of this event.

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