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The celebrated Derby competition at La Baule, France, takes place today (Monday) with Ireland's Peter Charles, riding <Traxdata Corrada> a qualifier, having taken second place in yesterday's Grand Prix.

Below is a summary of the Derby's history, as compiled by the organisers of the CSI-O at la Baule.

The Nations Cup competition takes place on Tuesday. All eyes will be on the Irish team, who last year took the world by surprise with an outright win of the Nations Cup series.

The Irish Nations Cup team at La Baule will be Dermott Lennon, Peter Charles, Cameron Hanley, and Billy Twomey, all veterans of last season's successful Nations Cup victories.

Monday, May 7th, 2001 11:55

Since 1962, the date on which Loïc Hamon created it, several hundred riders have played in this particular orchestra: 1,180 metres, 28 jumping efforts, a course unchanged since 1980, the date of the last course building for Philippe Gayot.

The Pessoas have engraved their name in letters of gold, with seven victories. The members of the 2000 podium Olivier Guillon, Eric Navet andPaul Freimuller, have come back to fight it out.

The qualifier took place yesterday. It was a pity that the course builder did not put together some of the obstacles that correspond to the reality of the derby itself. Instead, the Paris Turf class was run as a speed class, and one could not really count the results of this qualifier in order to place a good bet today. As it happens, it's none other than the stallion, Boléro de Brecey HN, and handsome Nicolas Delmotte - the teenage idol for all the young girls in the ground who could have the heart and the stride. Two essential qualities for this type of course.

It is, in any case, difficult for the riders: to find a good size, the horsethat is capable of producing his efforts from the beginning to the end of the course. Paul Freimuller has found the solution by reserving Tell The Difference for the three European derbies: La Baule, Hamburg and Hickstead. The Swiss is, obviously, the strongest foreign challenger for the 2001 title. There are, among the French, around a dozen who will be defending our colours. In the first instance the winners of the 2000 edition, Olivier Guillon and Banboula du Thos. Eric Navet and Alligator Fontaine, hold the speed record of 144.81 seconds, chancing their luck for the third time. The derby bridesmaids twice finishing second are finally ready. Alligator was, in fact, held back as he powered around the course at the end of the qualifier. Eric is confident that he will be repeating his 1988 win with Marconne.

Serious hopes will also be placed upon Michel Hécart and Baeken Platière winner on Saturday of the Groupe Lucien Barrière class. Alexandra Ledermann, Patrice Delaveau and Philippe Rozier are three who will be testing some new partners. They will be Electra d'Amaury for Alexandra Ledermann, Epsom d'Utah a Narcos «with lots of heart» for Patrice, and Penelope VH de Gravenhof with Philippe. «She did the major classes on the World Cup tour this winter. I don't know whether the format of this class will suit her. We shall see.»

As far as the foreigners are concerned, there are those who will also be testing their horses in this class. The Selle Français Edza de Saint-Denis by Si Tu Viens who has been chosen for La Baule by Markus Fuchs. «She is young, only nine-years old, and doesn't have much experience, or many means, but a huge heart.» Peter Charles, who finished second in yesterday's Grand Prix will also be taking a risk in riding Traxdata Corrada, who has only just joined him.

But, it without doubt Olivier Jouanneteau, talking about the qualities of his mare Family du Montois, who mentions the best quality required of a horse about to launch itself into this adventure: «fighting spirit.» It is, in fact, this competitiveness that will win the day. The La Baule public know that only too well as, each year, they encourage, support and carry the pairs as they come to the end of the course.


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