Sarah Bullimore has pulled off the best performance of her career, coming second at Les Etoiles de Pau CCI*** by just 0.1pen.
Gwendolen Fer took the top spot with Romatic Love, to become Pau’s first ever French female winner.
Sarah had three horses in the top ten after they all jumped clear around the influential cross-country, which saw many top riders retire.
“Cross-country days don’t come much better that this,” Sarah wrote on her Facebook page. “Three horses clear around an extremely tough 4* track at Pau and three horses in the top ten going into showjumping tomorrow. Don’t really know what else to say!”
Out of 62 starters only 39 combinations finished, 28 of which were clear – and only two came home inside the optimum time.
Fence 11abc (Haie) caused a number of problems with three brush fences on a difficult line – two of which were angled over a substantial ditch.
Rio team bronze medalist Shane Rose, who was in the lead after the dressage, came a cropper at this fence when CP Qualified fell in the ditch at the second element. Both Andrew Nicholson (Qwanza) and Mark Todd (NZB Campino) retired here, after their horses had a run out. They had been in 11th and third place, respectively.
Earlier in the day, Mark picked up another 20pen at the same fence with Kiltubrid Rhapsody who was fifth, which once again saw him out of the running.
Last year’s winner Maxime Livio was joint third place with Mark after the dressage, but also pulled up when Opium De Verrieres glanced off the corner at fence 7ab.
The carnage caused by Pierre Michelet’s course made Sarah’s three clears all the more impressive.
Going into the final phase France’s Astier Nicolas was in the lead, however, he dropped to sixth place when Molakai knocked three poles.
Sarah had one down with both of her first two horses, which put Valentino V in 11th place and Lilly Corinne in 13th. Going in with her final ride Reve Du Rouet, she had no fences in hand but kept a cool head to jump clear.
Gwendolen Fer also produced a clear round to take first place, with Sarah just behind her in the runner-up spot.
“I’m on cloud nine, it’s just amazing,” said Gwendolen. “Of course you always dream about winning, but actually pulling it off is just fantastic.”
France’s Cedric Lyard was third (Qatar Du Puech Rouget) while Australia’s Sammi Birch, who was competing in her first four-star in 10 years, was fourth (Hunter Valley II).
Britain’s Ros Canter also had a good weekend with Zenshera. They were in second place after the dressage and moved down to fourth place when they incurred 11.6 time penalties on the cross-country. One pole down in the final phase saw them finish a respectable seventh place.