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Thrills and spills from the Rolex Grand Prix Ville de La Baule

Thursday, 15 June 2023
CSIO5* La Baule 2023

It was jam-packed for Sunday’s highlight at Jumping International de La Baule; the Rolex Grand Prix Ville de La Baule. The enthusiastic and knowledgeable La Baule-crowd – which over the week counted 45.000 spectators in total – created an incredible atmosphere in the François André Stadium, which was filled to the brim as 50 world-class horse-and-rider combinations tested themselves over Gregory Bodo’s masterpiece of a track. 

Here we look back at the Grand Prix, which was filled with thrills and spills! First out, Switzerland's Janika Sprunger and her incredible 9-year-old mare Orelie who after jumping clear in her first five-star Grand Prix in St. Gallen the week prior was clear again in La Baule. 

All photos © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Steve Guerdat out walking the course with a smile...

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ ...with his daughter Ella.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Cian O'Connor and Max Wachman going through the course.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Edward Levy and Henrik von Eckermann.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Above and below: Richard Vogel, Hannah Mytilineou, Ioli Mytilineou and Sean Crooks, Olivier Perreau, Marc Dilasser and Roger Yves Bost.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ World no. two Julien Epaillard serving as illustration of the size of the course.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Nicola Philippaerts inspecting Gregory Bodo's track.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The first pair to answer all of Bodo's questions correctly were home heroes Gregory Cottard and the lovely Bibici, crowd favourites in La Baule!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ One rider later, a jump-off was secured as Nicolas Delmotte and Ilex VP went clear...

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ ...making it explode at the François André Stadium.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Brazil's Yuri Mansur thanks his lovely QH Alfons Santo Antonio for a clear round.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Thumbs up from Switzerland's Edouard Schmitz who posted the fourth clear of the class with Gamin Van’t Naastveldhof.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ These two really impressed. After winning Thursday's 1.50m Prix FFE, a Grand Prix qualifier, the relatively unknown pair Marcus Westergren and Fellaini de Liebri Z went on to jump clear in the Grand Prix – making light work of the course.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and Deesse de Coquerie posted Brazil's second clear round.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ While the third came from this amazing pair: Rodrigo Pessoa and Major Tom, a horse that looks to have everything to become a real super star.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Another horse that has it all is Steve Guerdat's Dynamix de Belheme, who only made a very light fault on the Rolex plank to finish on four faults.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Half-way into the Grand Prix, the class got an abrupt break when Ben Maher pulled up his Olympic champion Explosion W who all of a sudden appeared lame on his left front leg after having cleared the five first fences of the course. Luckily, medical expertise came quickly to assist, and the 14-year-old gelding was driven out of the ring in an equine ambulance. Unfortunately, Explosion was later diagnosed with a soft tissue injury.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Belgium's Olivier Philippaerts and Le Blue Diamond v't Ruytershof were kept out of the jump-off by two agonising time penalties.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ It's not always it goes according to plan. Kars Bonhof's Hernandez TN had a refusal and a bit a hard meeting with the triple bar, and the Dutch rider opted to retire.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Sweden's Henrik von Eckermann and Iliana impressed again with a clear round!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Last year, Canada's Beth Underhill won the Grand Prix in La Baule with Dieu Merci van T&L. This year, she returned with Nikka vd Bisschop and was clear again!

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Switzerland's Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei were maximum unlucky and had a pole on the first fence down, then jumped the rest of the course clear.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Nicola Philippaerts and Katanga vh Dingenshof flying through the Rolex triple combination to clear the course.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ The one and only Bosty! A national treasure in France.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Belgium's Gregory Wathelet and Ace of Hearts impressed with a clear round.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ A focused Jens Fredricson and Markan Cosmopolit, who after contributing to Sweden's Nations Cup victory on Friday went on to jump clear in the Grand Prix.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ Two horses took a dislike to the wall: Edward Levy's Catchar Mail and Julien Gonin's Valon du Lys.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson/WoSJ That's a wrap from the first Grand Prix round in La Baule!

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