The Antarès – EBM team triumphs at the Grand National Championships
12 December 2022
12 December 2022
Saint Lô staged the final round of the Grand National championships on the weekend of 4 December 2022, but Antarès – EBM‘s outstanding results over the season meant the team were already champions before the last round. Securing a total of 63 points, Mathieu Billot, Alice Laine and Jean Luc Mourier were certain to take first place on the podium. Here’s a look back at the 2022 competition season and an insight into next year’s events for our Antarès riders.
The team had a clear-cut goal for the Grand National championships this year: Compete in a maximum of rounds to head the leader board. As Aline Laine confirms, “We wanted to compete in as many events as possible. There are 3 of us and we were ready to give it our all to win. We had three great horses for each round and Mathieu and Jean-Luc were among the prize-winners on several occasions”.
By finishing high in the rankings at each of the Grand Prix rounds, the three Antarès – EBM team riders secured top spot before competing at Saint Lô but their success was down to a true team effort. As Jean-Luc Mourier explains, the riders took it in turns, “We are a high-achieving team. Mathieu is the linchpin while Alice scored really well in her events. Unfortunately, my horse picked up an injury at the start of the season but Mathieu got some great results with his horses although by the end of the season, our situations were reversed”.
Mathieu Billot agrees, “I had a flying start to the season, finishing first at Jardy, Auver and Compiègne. After that, my horses got injured and are currently taking some time out”. These 3 victories meant that the rider from Normandy was the most successful Grand Prix 150 Pro Elite rider in the Grand National.
While quality abounds at the various rounds of the Grand National, Mathieu and Alice have a soft spot for Compiègne. “From the course to the organisation, Compiègne really looks after the riders. I hadn’t been there since they upgraded the sand tracks and improvements they made are great”, says the Norman.
As for indoor arenas, Mathieu thinks that Saint Lô is the best in France while Jean-Luc has a preference for Lyon and competing in 140 and 150 cm show jumping events on the main course.
Alice agrees that she’s happy with her successful competition season riding Emerald. “After winning at Canteleu, we qualified for the Nations Cup in the young riders category. I also rode in some top events in CCI2* like Deauville, Lyon and Rouen with the bonus of finishing in the top of the leader board. I also gained experienced being part of the Antarès – EBM team riding in the Grand National championships. After 3 weeks of competition, Emerald is going to take a holiday and we’ll probably starting FFE training again in January. Officially we start again in February, in Royan. I also have some young horses to train this winter.”
Jean-Luc’s season has also finished.
“We’ll take a 2-month break. It took a while to get going this season but we came good midway through before I had to stop for 6 weeks to mend an injured collarbone. I should be able to start competing again in February or March.”
Winter will give Mathieu’s horses some respite after a roller-coaster season.
“Things started well. I rode at the World Championships with Filou but unfortunately he got injured. Two good horses also arrived this year so it was a transitional season”.
Jean-Luc is adamant about the Grand National championships next season, “I hope I’ll ride well and get some top places at the Grand National. I really like the championship as it’s great to train the horses and prepare for international competitions. I’d also like to take part in the Nations Cup as a 2 nd line rider in the team event. I’m training some young horses that are reaching maturity. They’ll be 8 years old in 2023 and are already very competitive. I’m also planning to ride in the CSI young horses class to support my horses”.
Watch our interview with Jean-Luc
Mathieu is attentive to his horses’ well-being and hopes they’ll be in top form as three have been taken out of competition. Next, the goal will be to score world ranking points.
Finally, Alice wants to continue progressing. “I want to ride Emerald in the young riders’ category at the European Championships. We’ll gain experience on the 150 cm events and aim for clear rounds. I also want to ride my new horses at the top events”.
We caught up with Alice at EquitaLyon
We hope our Antarès riders have a well-earned rest and can’t wait to see them again next year in the arena!.
Cover photo credit: PSV