"When I was a teenager, I used to come to the Jumping de Bordeaux to admire the world's best riders. Today, I won my first 5* Grand Prix here..." Grégory Cottard, a native of New Aquitaine (but living in the Paris region), seemed stunned after this brilliant victory, as if surprised by what had happened to him. However, it is his name and that of his fantastic grey mare, Cocaïne du Val, that will be added to the prestigious prize list of Sunday's AUDI Grand Prix!
After the seventeen jump-off riders yesterday, course designer Jean-François Morand tightened the screws today with a course just as – if not more - difficult as the day before yet clearly with a tighter time limit as the winner confirms: "Yes, today was bigger than yesterday, the combination was testing, the time was tighter and above all, the best riders of the day before were riding their second horses.” So much so that clear rounds were rare on this Sunday afternoon and the public had to wait for fourteen competitors before the situation thawed with a first perfect round signed by Grégory Cottard! There were only 36 riders at the start, and some feared the worst as no second clear round was in sight...
Thirteen riders later, the Dane Lars Bak Andersen and Carl-Heinz B. lightened the atmosphere a little with the second clear round of the afternoon, but it was still not enough. Fortunately, at the end of the class, the world number one, Henrik von Eckermann, and the winner of the day before, Marlon Modolo Zanotelli, came to extend the short list which offered a very beautiful jump-off that Cottard was going to open just as he did the day before. But this time with more success: on Saturday, with Bibici, he had the heaviest score and was eliminated from the ranking, on Sunday, with Cocaine du Val, he won: "Yes, I was unlucky yesterday in the World Cup jump-off, I made two faults and I finished last, today, there were four of us and I am first. I am very happy to have won this Grand Prix in my country. Cocaïne has evolved a lot over the last year. We were looking for each other at the beginning of the season, but at the end of the year she was feeling good, and I started to enter her into Grand Prix.” This first 5* victory on the rider’s childhood grounds and in front of two top 10 riders felt very emotional. "Beating the world number one and the winner of the last night’s World Cup class is huge. I did my job and I was counting on them making mistakes because I know they are faster than me, whereas for me it was the first time I tried to accelerate on such a jump-off and the luck turned in my favour. But Cocaine was top, top, top.” And it is true that whether it is with Bibici, or with Cocaine du Val, two mares that Grégory Cottard rides "naturally", with a minimal bit and no noseband, the rider can undoubtedly raise his ambitions. “I am going to go and continue this World Cup series in Gothenburg with Bibici, then I will take part in the Saut Hermès in Paris and afterwards I will have the European Championship in my sights. Cocaine will follow Bibici's rhythm.” And Paris 2024? "For the moment, we are on the long list, but the road is long between now and then.”
Boyd Exell becomes a legend!
Sunday was also the day of the FEI Driving World Cup final, a moment the Australian Boyd Exell had been waiting for since last year as he had to take revenge on the Dutchman Bram Chardon who had deprived him of his tenth title in Leipzig... The fight was tough, the Chardons, father and son, put a lot of pressure on the Australian, but the latter didn't give up, especially in the last round where he had no other choice than to go for it and avoid any mistakes which would be fatal. But Exell is an outstanding driver and his four horses, Bajnok, Maestoso Jupiter (the Lippizzan of the group that was lent to him), Barny and Mad Max are Formula 1 machines. The final gap is minimal: 4 seconds! "This victory feels like a relief because when you have a good team and such horses, you don't have the right to miss out. To win today, we had to take risks against Bram Chardon, but taking risks can also mean losing everything, so I'm relieved. Otherwise, what a amazing public, here in Bordeaux ! Last night, despite the late hour, the hall remained full until the end"! With this tenth victory in the World Cup final, Boyd has become a legend in Bordeaux.
The lights of this fabulous 50th anniversary edition went out. An edition that was as successful as ever after the two-year sanitary break. Never before has the Jumping International de Bordeaux been so well attended, never before has the Salon du Cheval been so packed, never before has there been so many exhibitors (220) and never before has the whole of Hall 1 of Parc des Expositions been so fully occupied by horses. The Jumping International de Bordeaux is clearly off to a good start as it embarks on a second half-century of sporting and equestrian emotions.