FFE World Club Championships
Thursday 24th – Monday 28th July 2014
The Generali World Club Tournament is a friendly international competition for clubs all over the world. The tournament was held in Lamotte Beuvron and was run by the French Federation over the weekend of 26th and 27th July. BRC were invited to send a team over to France to represent GB in this International team Show jumping event. Since Finn Valley were the current National Champions we were invited to attend. Despite the distance it was an opportunity that the team of Julia Sheppard & Hot Prospect, Rosie Stevens and Van Neolux, Shirley Stagg & Possibilities and Lisa Kenyon & Cyndaquil had to accept and readily prepared themselves for the competition. The team were support by Lucy and Isabella Stagg and chef d’Equipe Barbara Smith. We soon set about approaching sponsors and are extremely grateful to the following who either donated cash or team kit; Kate Negus Saddlery, Coltsfoot Equestrian, Kings of Suffolk, Ariat, EH Haylage, Charnwood Milling, Premier Equine, Red House Farm, Levington, Nigel Western Equine, Poplar Park Equestrian Centre, Bed Down Horse Bedding, Carr & Day & Martin & Class Act Embroidery.
It was a very early start on Thursday morning, we all met Stephen Gardiner from Eastelm horse box hire at Levington at 3.30am to load the lorry and set the horses on their way. Arriving at Dover in good time for our ferry, the horses followed closely behind on the next crossing. Continuing our journey in France heading south to Paris, by which time it was getting very hot about 33ºC and the air con was struggling to keep up. We finally arrived at Lamotte-Beuvron and the Parc Equestrian about 5pm feeling rather tired and hot. Nobody seemed to speak very much English but we did meet up with Madame Maridie Bourgade who showed us our stables and around the complex. Finally the horses arrived after a 14 hour journey just as it decided to thunderstorm. They all came off the lorry looking really sprightly but tired. After having settled them with well-deserved food and water we decided it was time to find our Motel, wash and find food for ourselves. A quick late night check on horses and we then decided it was time for bed after a very long day.
After an early morning ride around the Parc we had a few hours to spare so we decided we would have a quick swim in the hotel pool. At 12pm we all met at the main FFE hospitality area for the drawn order. GB were drawn to ride first to go! Following the welcome drinks we were invited to be filmed for the French Equestrian TV channel. Grinning with our Union Jacks we introduced ourselves and said how pleased we were to be participating, in pigeon French. A quick visit to the shops and some lunch, then it was time to titivate and plait ready for the parade of the competing nations. We were first and led the other teams around the arena carrying the Union Jack. Once everyone was lined up in their teams each team was invited forward, Introduced individually to the crowd, before their national anthem was played, all quite emotional! When the parade finished it was time for the warm up round. As we had been drawn first we were quickly back through the tunnel and into the main arena. Rosie set the standard with a flawless clear round, instilling us all with confidence.
Three further clears set the president for the other teams to follow. By this time it was 6pm and the temperature was close to 30 degrees. A quick splash through the river to cool off, then back to the stables to wash off and set fair the horses and stables. Once all settled we made our way back to Centre Parcs for a quick shower before the cocktail party at 7.30pm. A lively affair, we all ate fabulous canapés and pastries before setting off home for the night.
The following day started with an early ride out on the horses. The weather was warming up and by the time we had fed and mucked out the sun was out in full force! The morning was spent in the pool testing the rapids and flumes. After a relaxing morning we headed to the stables to plait and bath ready for the jumping. The course walk was at 4.30 and followed promptly by the first riders of each nation.
The course was twisty, long and testing which required forward riding, first up was Rosie who jumped a great round with just an unlucky 4 faults. Next up was Lisa who rode a great positive clear round. Julia was the third to go and despite jumping a good round rolled two poles for 8 faults. Last up was Shirley who jumped a well-deserved confident and bold clear round. At the end of round one we ended on 4 faults in joint 3rd place, with France behind Ivory Coast and Senegal. After settling the horses we headed to the Pavillion restaurant for a team dinner along with Stephen our driver. We then headed back to the Chalet for a chat and a drink to discuss the events of the day.
The last day of competition started hot again. It was to be a 1.30pm course walk so it was a busy morning getting horses plaited and bathed. Lucy and Barbara back at base making sandwiches. Whilst riding out this morning the girls took the horses into the river and although some were hesitant they all enjoyed it and were splashing around happily cooling off. The course was walked and jumping started at 2.30. The course was long with 12 fences, a double and a treble. Jumping in reverse order of merit, Rosie was fifth to go and again rode a lovely forward round and just tipped the pole on the 12th jump.
Lisa went next with Cyndaquil behaving impeccably for a second clear round, I think she was enjoying the celebratory music that blares out when a clear round is achieved. Julia went next and did a lovely round just tipping the third part of the treble which was a great shame. Shirley went next and unfortunately had 2 down but she was still pleased with how he jumped. Finishing on 12f after two round We then waited nervously to see if we qualified for the 3rd round jump off. We came fifth and so were first to go in the jump off.
Rosie again had an unlucky 4 faults over the big parallel off a difficult corner; Lisa had the 5th fence down, Julia the 3rd fence and Shirley went clear. There was some amazing jumping from the other teams and also so very fast times! The final results ended with The Ivory Coast 1st, France 2nd, Senegal and Suriname joint 3rd and we came a creditable 5th. Germany, Togo and Turkey did not go forward to the final placings.
The main prize giving was done in a separate arena with much hype and music! We would have loved to be on the podium but it was marvellous to be at the presentation and to be congratulated at such a multinational event. There was very little English heard, a lot of French and a good few other languages which none of us could understand. Everybody has been extremely friendly and helpful and watching how other nations look after their horses and ride has been quite an education.
Thanks to all the support at home over the weekend; it was great to see so many people checking in on our progress on Facebook!! Sad to be preparing to head home the next day, however, we had all had a wonderful life time experience and extremely happy with our lovely group of horses who coped so well after such a long journey, the heat and the incredible atmosphere!
Julia, Rosie, Lisa, Shirley, Isabella, Lucy and Barbara