To the delight of the French crowd, Maxime Livio (FRA) scored his first CCI4* victory by Jumping clear on Qalao Des Mers at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau, the first leg of the FEI Classics™ 2016/17, to finish on his Dressage score of 45.3.
Michael Jung (GER), the 2016 and 2012 individual Olympic gold medallist, held the lead after Cross Country on FischerRocana FST, his 2015 and 2016 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* winner. But Jung lowered two fences on the 11-year-old mare, moving down to third place, and handed the win to Livio.
Maxime Livo, 29, has a superb CCI4* record so far from just three attempts – he finished second on his debut at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau in 2014, and took the runner-up spot with the Selle Français 12-year-old Qalao Des Mers at Luhmühlen in June this year.
He said: “I’ve finished second at this level before, so finally to win is very special. I’ve had a marvellous time at Pau – the ground was well prepared, the courses were great and my horse performed well.”
Jung also finished second to Livio on FischerTakinou, having knocked one fence down on the nine-year-old on whom he won individual and team gold medals at the 2015 FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle (GBR). “It is always disappointing to have a fence down, but I am happy with both my horses,” he said.
Jung also led Les 4 Etoiles de Pau going into the Jumping phase in 2015 on FischerRocana FST but hit one fence, handing victory to France’s Astier Nicolas, who went on to win team gold and individual silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Nicola Wilson (GBR) took fourth place with One Two Many, slipping from third place after knocking two show jumps down. Her fellow British rider, CCI4* first-timer Alexander Bragg, finished fifth on Zagreb after a faultless jumping round – one of just seven in the competition.
Camilla Speirs (IRL) was delighted with her Rio Olympics partner Portersize Just A Jiff – the pair rose from 32nd after Dressage to take sixth place with a double clear round in the cross country and jumping phases.
New Zealand’s Jock Paget finished seventh after picking up eight jumping faults with Clifton Signature, while Nicola Wilson filled a second top-10 spot with Annie Clover in eighth.
Thirty-five riders contested the final Jumping phase over a track, designed by Yann Royant (FRA) that was considered to be one of the biggest seen at CCI4* level this season.
Two horses were withdrawn before the final veterinary inspection; 10th-placed Parkiarrup Illicit Liaison (Sonja Johnson, AUS) and Fleet Street (Roo Fox, GBR) and two more were eliminated at the final veterinary inspection on Sunday morning – Cracker Jack, who lay in sixth place with Boyd Martin (USA), and Cooley Blue Flame, 35th with Katie O’Sullivan (IRL)
About the winner
Maxime Livio (FRA) runs his own stable, Ecurie Maxime Livio, near Saumur with his girlfriend, Jumping rider Mathilde Montginoux.
Maxime competed on French team at the FEI Junior and Young Rider European Eventing Championships, and made his senior championship debut at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2014.
His first major success came with his Les 4 Etoiles de Pau winner Qalao Des Mers in 2014, when they won the Saumur (FRA) CCI3*, but he had received international recognition when taking second place at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau aboard Cathar De Gamel in 2014.
Maxime’s family has no connection with horses, but he started having riding lessons as a small child and participated in all forms of competition. He trained at the Ecole Nationale d’Equitation de Saumur, and spent time with François Roemer and Nicolas Touzaint before setting up his own establishment.
Results after Cross Country
1 Maxime Livio/Qalao des Mers (FRA) 45.3 + 0 + 0 = 45.3
2 Michael Jung/FischerTakinou (GER) 39.3 + 8.8 + 4 = 52.1
3 Michael Jung/FischerRocana FST (GER) 43.8 + 0.4 + 8 = 52.2
4 Nicola Wilson/One Two Many (GBR) 43.6 + 2.8 + 8 = 54.4
5 Alexander Bragg/Zagreb (GBR) 43.0 + 12.4 + 0 = 55.4
6 Camilla Speirs/Portersize Just A Jiff (IRL) 54.1 + 1.6 + 0 = 55.7
7 Jock Paget/Clifton Signature (NZL) 44.0 + 4.0 + 8 = 56.0
8 Nicola Wilson/Annie Clover (GBR) 54.1 + 2 + 0 = 56.1
9 Tina Cook/Billy The Red (GBR) 48.7 + 3.6 + 4 = 56.3
10 Karim Florent Laghouag/Punch De L’Esques (FRA) 55.7 + 0.8 + 0 = 56.5
Full results here