French event rider Maxime Livio scored his first CCI4* victory by Jumping clear on Qalao Des Mers at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau, the first leg of the FEI Classics™ 2016/17, to finish on his Dressage score of 45.3.
Germany's Michael Jung, the 2016 and 2012 individual Olympic gold medallist, held the lead after Cross Country on FischerRocana FST, his 2015 and 2016 Rolex Kentucky CCI4* winner. But Jung lowered two fences on the 11-year-old mare, moving down to third place, and handed the win to Livio.
Maxime Livo, 29, has a superb CCI4* record so far from just three attempts – he finished second on his debut at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau in 2014, and took the runner-up spot with the Selle Français 12-year-old Qalao Des Mers at Luhmühlen in June this year.
He said: “I’ve finished second at this level before, so finally to win is very special. I’ve had a marvellous time at Pau - the ground was well prepared, the courses were great and my horse performed well.”
Jung also finished second to Livio on FischerTakinou, having knocked one fence down on the nine-year-old on whom he won individual and team gold medals at the 2015 FEI European Eventing Championships at Blair Castle (GBR). “It is always disappointing to have a fence down, but I am happy with both my horses,” he said.
Jung led Les 4 Etoiles de Pau going into the Jumping phase in 2015 on FischerRocana FST, but hit one fence, handing victory to France’s Astier Nicolas, who went on to win team gold and individual silver medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Britain's Nicola Wilson took fourth place with One Two Many, slipping from third place after knocking two show jumps down. Her fellow British rider, CCI4* first-timer Alexander Bragg, finished fifth on Zagreb after a faultless jumping round – one of just seven in the competition.
Camilla Speirs (IRL) was delighted with her Rio Olympics partner Portersize Just A Jiff – the pair rose from 32nd after Dressage to take sixth place with a double clear round in the cross country and jumping phases.
New Zealand’s Jock Paget finished seventh after picking up eight jumping faults with Clifton Signature, while Nicola Wilson filled a second top-10 spot with Annie Clover in eighth.
Thirty-five riders contested the final Jumping phase over a track, designed by Yann Royant that was considered to be one of the biggest seen at CCI4* level this season.