Thibault Fournier has won Les Etoiles de Pau on his four-star debut, becoming the youngest rider to take the title.
The 23-year-old held his own against a world-class field, riding Siniani De Lathus – who was also competing in his first four-star event.
Thibault had one fence in hand going into the final phase, and an early rail piled on the pressure. However, he kept a cool head to jump the rest of the course clear inside the time and finish on a winning score of 29.5.
“I’m lost for words,” said a tearful Thibault. “I came to Pau to see whether I had the level to compete in a four-star competition against the best riders in the world.
“I’m overjoyed with what I have achieved here, but I’m especially thrilled with my exceptional horse who carried the whole competition off brilliantly!”
Gemma Tattersall (Pamero 4) came painfully close to winning her first four-star, and was just 0.4pen behind Thibault. She was the only rider to finish on her dressage score, but it still wasn’t quite enough and she had to settle for second place.
“I fell just short of the mark as I have done so many times already,” laughed Gemma. “One day I’ll get there! Perhaps at Badminton next year! Pamero was absolutely perfect and completed three magnificent tests, I couldn’t be happier with the way he performed!”
Another four-star first-timer to make the podium was 26-year-old French rider Clara Loiseau who finished third on 35.7 pen with Won’t Wait.
Denmark’s Peter Flarup was fourth with Frankie, ahead of World Champion Ros Canter who dropped from third to fifth after Zenshera had two down and one time fault in the final phase.
You can watch Les Etoiles de Pau 2018 on Horse & Country when it premieres on 7 November at 8pm.