Morel Chooses Surprising French Team for 2023 European Dressage Championships

Wed, 08/16/2023 - 17:24
Arnaud Serre and James Bond de Massa win the 2023 CDIO Compiegne :: Photo © Astrid Appels

The French equestrian federation (FFE) has announced the team that will represent France at the 2023 European Dressage Championships in Riesenbeck (GER) on 4 - 10 September 2023. 

Team trainer and chief selector Jean Morel made a rather unexpected choice, but the FFE press release explained the decision by using the header "the team above everything."

As host nation of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, France has been meticulously preparing a squad of Olympic potentials so that the country can reach a peak performance on home turf next year. The 2023 European Championships are the penultimate highlight for Grand Prix riders one year before Paris. 

"I have chosen combinations that function and are committed to the team of France," Morel explained. 

Morel has therefore chosen for Riesenbeck:

  • Alexandre Ayache - Holmevangs Jolene
  • Morgan Barbançon - Habana Libre A
  • Pauline Basquin - Sertorius de Rima Z
  • Arnaud Serre - James Bond de Massa
The Collective

Morel further explained that horses such as James Bond, Habana Libre A, and Jolene need more experience and exposure in a Championship atmosphere, while Sertorius is always very consistent.

"We shouldn't be ashamed. We aren't fighting for medals (in Riesenbeck). We are building a team with Paris in sight. I need to broaden this Olympic group to have more chances on our side."

He suggests that Riesenbeck will be a platform for the younger Olympic team potential horses to grow as France doesn't need to fight for a Paris team spot anyway. 

Corentin Pottier

Pottier and Gotilas at the CDIO Aachen
Biggest absentee from the team for Riesenbeck is Corentin Pottier and Gotilas (by Totilas).

The pair was nominated on the French Nations Cup team for the CDIO's in Compiegne, Rotterdam, and Aachen, where they have been scoring 71.369%, 72.326%, and 72.065% in the Grand Prix. Ayache's Jolene is currently scoring round 70-71% in the Grand Prix, Serre's 9-year old James Bond de Massa has been scoring between 67 - 70% in the Grand Prix. Serre and James Bond won the French Championships in Vierzon with two 70% marks. 

Pottier chose not to ride at the final team observation trial in Crozet, but instead supported his girlfriend, Camille Judet Cheret, at the World Young Horse Championships in Ermelo. The French federation had entered him for the CDI Ermelo Grand Prix tour but only two spots were available and they were given to French riders who also competed young horses at the same show (Judet, Collard).

Judet has also been competing Grand Prix horse Herelja Higgins this year and has been scoring between 68 - 71% in the Grand Prix.

The Collective

French team selector Jean Morel
The French Federation has made two squads in the lead-up to Paris. Groupe 1 (A-squad) and groupe 2 (B-squad). Any team selection will prioritise members of the A-squad. Three horses from the A-squad were picked for Riesenbeck, while B-squad listed Serre was favoured over A-squad rider Pottier. 

Morel explained that more horses will enter the A-squad in September.

"We focus on the collective," he stated. " We need to have riders committed to the flag and to the team. We will use these championships to improve the combinations and to build a team in which only recurring performances will validate the selection."

Photos © Astrid Appels

Related Link
Eurodressage Coverage of the European Dressage Championships