Olympic equine hopefuls head to Chantilly

Ten days away from the Olympic Games, 20 out of the 30 best world showjumping riders chose France as their ultimate stop over.

Olympic equine hopefuls head to Chantilly

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This weekend, the 8th leg of the prestigious Global Champions Tour is held in front of famous building  Les Grandes Ecuries ("the big stables") attached to the castle of Chantilly.

The two biggest favourite riders for the Olympic title, world number one Rolf-Göran Bengtsson and Nick Skelton will already be shoulder to shoulder this weekend. The most senior member of the British team will certainly have the advantage because, unlike the runner-up in the Olympics and European champion, he will count on his Olympic champion horse, Big Star, and his excellent substitute Carlo.

But the Europeans are specially eager to take on the Americans, Olympic defending champions. With the exception of the World Cup winners, Rich Fellers and Flexible, three of the London riders will perform on the new Meautry showground for three days. So far, they have focused on the qualifying circuit, and have been forced to abandon the old continent.

Already members of the Olympic gold team in Hong Kong, Beezie Madden and Mc Lain Ward, even without Via Volo and Antares F, will be closely watched. Reed Kessler will be particularly scrutinized. The youngest rider in equestrian's 100-year history, who celebrated her 18th birthday last week, is associated to Mika and Ligist (and not to the famous Cylana she will ride in London), and will cetainly provoke curiosity.

And after the two first editions of the show were won by ladies, Katie Monahan-Prudent’s student could well surprise everybody and step on her first European podium on Saturday evening after the Grand Prix.

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