350 riders. 500 horses. 10 world-class competitions. With numbers like that, an exciting weekend was guaranteed at the 6th Jumping International de Megève – Edmond de Rothschild. Recognised as one of the finest circuits in the international horse jumping scene, horse-loving Force One were proud to be the Official Media Partner, distributing over 500 copies of the magazine during the week-long event.
Attracting over 25,000 visitors, this beautiful Alpine town was overcome with a festival-like atmosphere, transforming the heart of the village into a mecca for show jumping and all things equine. Usually the reserve of skiers during the winter – the resort made famous through investment from the Rothschild family in the early 1900s – their patronage continues to benefit the town through the crowds drawn here by the show.
It is in this beautiful setting high up in the French Alps that saw intense competition between some of the world’s finest horse riders, all aiming for victory. To alleviate some the tension following such action-packed days, spectators and riders were able to enjoy various musical performances and other entertainment surrounding the arena each evening, adding to the already palpable atmosphere.
Each course layout was extremely technical, requiring tight turns, carefully calculated strides, and incredible concentration from both horse and rider. Stamina was key. Things began to heat up from the Friday competitions when the stakes, and jumps, were higher: 20 horses and riders made it through to the jump-off to compete for the Prix du Domaine du Mont d’Arbois, necessary for qualifying for the main Grand Prix event and to cumulate points for the Longines World ranking, with a tidy sum of €26,000 to be awarded to the winner. This was a performance in class, with exemplary riding from all competitors. With a jump height of 1.50m, this was no mean feat. Ultimately it was Swiss rider Werner Muff riding HH Fleur who took the title, closely followed by Michael Duffy (IRL) on Belcanto Z.
Saturday evening presented one of the most popular events out of the competition, the 6 bar Prix Groupe Dunoyer. More a test of the horse’s power, and rider’s nerve, the record of 2.11m had been achieved already at Megève three times, with great anticipation for the same, if not better, to be achieved this year. Looking impossibly high, the crowd’s excitement brought great momentum to the riders as each lined up to attempt the feat. It was lucky that the event was held during the summer, for the raucous applauds and cheers from the crowd when local rider Alexandre Fontanelle, on the utterly magnificent horse Quaprice de l’Etivant, broke the record with a successful 2.12m jump, as the noise could have caused an avalanche.
By Sunday’s line up one would have thought the crowd would have been exhausted from days of cheering and supporting, yet the biggest crowd was drawn to the Grand Prix de Megève – Edmond de Rothschild, with a grand prize of €60,000 up for grabs. 13 jumps of 1.50m high stood between the 60 starting horses and victory. The bad weather of the previous days abated, and glorious sunshine now filled the arena. At the beginning of each round, it was only the gasps of the crowd you could hear, so enthralled were they at the standard of riding before them.
12 riders made it through to the jump-off, the technicalities of the course really separating the quality of the competitors. Prolific rider Nadja Peter Steiner set the standard, only taking up 38.82 seconds of the allotted 84. With every rider coming close, but not close enough to beat this time, the atmosphere was excruciating for those watching, and for those waiting to jump. But it was Frenchman Olivier Robert who was emphatic in his victory, leaping from his saddle and kissing the beautiful Quenelle du Py on the nose, with a winning time of 38.60.
Yet more celebrations were to come with the Challenge Jaeger-Le Coultre that evening, with Julien Gonin (FR) and Linda Bratomi (ITA) were awarded the best rider and female rider respectively. The day concluded with the final event of the competition, the ever-popular Prix du Département de la Haute Savoie, which saw a relay of one pro and two junior riders on ponies. Seeing the young riders emerge into the spotlight brought great delight to the spectators, and was a wonderful way to end this year’s Jumping International de Megève.