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Celebrities, Champagne and Chantilly

By Jacqui Ridley

Photographs subject to copyright.

For once I’m lost for words - I don’t think I can find words to adequately describe jumping at Chantilly, France! Never in my wildest dreams could I image such an exquisite venue for a show jumping event. I’m hoping it’s a case of ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ because there’s little chance of being able to describe the magnificent setting for this show.

As part of Team Haras Du Ry I headed to the magnificent venue of Chantilly to compete in an International 1* and 2* event in late April. This world class venue will host the Longines Global Champions Tour in July and the world’s best show jumpers will gather here … sacred turf indeed! The thrill of being at such an amazing venue is hard to describe. The build up to the event had certainly raised my level of excitement - preparation for my first International professional event with Gordon had gone well and I felt ready for the challenge. Travelling to Chantilly via Paris was in itself an experience, even seeing a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the distance was one of those moments!

 The CSI1* Class in front of the Chateau © Jacqui Ridley

The CSI1* Class in front of the Chateau

Arriving at Chantilly I’m sure my jaw dropped and my eyes were popping. Even though I had seen photos of the course laid out right in front of the Chateau the reality was awe inspiring to say the very least. I was about to compete in an arena right in front of the most magnificent palace I’d ever seen.  It’s impossible to describe the mix of excitement, apprehension, exhilaration and awe I felt when we arrived at Chantilly, but let’s just say I think it’s a moment that will definitely be on my list of ‘once in a lifetime memories’!  

Team Haras Du Ry at Chantilly consisted of Amy Graham with Albert, Soraya D’Utah and her 8 y.o. mare Go Blesse competing in the 2* International, Thomas with Una competing in his first 1.25m class in the Amateurs and myself with Gordon in the 1* International.  

Trot up for the vet check with Gordon VD Riloo © Jacqui Ridley

 Trot up for the vet check with Gordon VD Riloo

My first round on Gordon lacked a little focus on my part but I was still happy to get around a technical course with only four faults. On Day 2 my round felt so much better and again, although pulling one rail I was very happy with our ride. Without doubt the highlight of my weekend was the 1.30m professional class on Sunday. With some notable riders in the class, including French actor Guillaume Canet who stars in the French movie Jappeloup, I placed well. This clear round would have to be the best ride of my life so far! Riding the course on such a willing, talented horse as Gordon in such a magnificent setting was truly out of this world and a moment I will treasure forever! 

Pre-round pep talk from Amy Graham © Jacqui Ridley

Pre-round pep talk from Amy Graham

As if being in such an amazing location among Europe’s show jumping elite wasn’t enough, there was time to just chill out with cheese platters and champagne in the sumptuous champagne lounge. What a way to spend a weekend - I can’t believe it’s possible to top all this.

Jacqui Ridley jumping with Gordon in the 1* International © Sportfot

Jumping with Gordon in the 1* International © Sportfot

Needless to say there was plenty of celebrations after a successful HDR weekend with perhaps more than a few celebratory drinks on the truck trip home!!

So until next show at Le Touquet CSI3*** where we were sharing the same stable block as Edwina Tops-Alexander and Rodrigo Pessoa!! 


 Jacqui Ridley catching up on EQLife in the champagne tent!

Catching up on EQ life in the Champagne tent!

If anyone is still looking for accommodation for WEG there’s still some spaces at Haras Du Ry.  

Video blog link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFTr2MKomys

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