Welcome to the Haras National at l‘Isle de Briand in Le Lion d’Angers (FRA) for the 25th edition of the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses. This is always an intriguing fixture, as we witness both the equine stars of the future demonstrating their enormous potential and a formidable battle between the world’s leading studbooks. Every breeder wants to produce a champion, and this is at the heart of what these Championships are all about, recognising their achievements and saluting their immense skill and knowledge. Today’s sport horses are the most extraordinary athletes, and we owe a great debt of gratitude to those who breed them.
The 2016 Studbook title was won by the Selle Francais, but when all the calculations were completed there was only a whisper separating them from the KWPN in second spot, while the Irish Sport Horse Studbook, winners in 2015, finished third this time around. It was Rio 2016 Olympic team bronze medallist Christopher Burton from Australia who topped the 6-year-old division with the KWPN Fire Fly, while Rio team silver medallist Ingrid Klimke from Germany steered the Holsteiner mare Weisse Duene to victory in the 7-year-old category.
It’s all about stepping stones along the road to a successful career in an equestrian triathlon that asks horses to be supple and obedient in dressage, brave and bold over a cross-country course and still happy to showjump on the final day. There have been huge crowds on cross-country day in recent years at the FEI World Breeding Eventing Championships for Young Horses, at least 35,000 spilling across the parkland last year to see some spectacular performances over the track so brilliantly designed by Pierre Michelet and his team. It’s always a treat for the spectators because so many of the world’s leading riders are in action with their budding stars, and I have no doubt that this year’s Championships will be as exciting and competitive as ever.
I send my best wishes to all the riders and their support teams. I hope you, and your young horses, enjoy the event and finish it with a strong sense of achievement. On behalf of the Fédération Equestre Internationale I would also like to thank the breeders and owners of the equine athletes along with the officials, the show organisers and the many volunteers who will give of their time to ensure it all runs smoothly. Your contribution to equestrian sport is immeasurable. Have a wonderful weekend.