Derby Region Pays de la Loire puts fresh spin on long-standing tradition

Derby Region Pays de la Loire puts fresh spin on long-standing tradition

A new course and new obstacles await the riders and spectators of the Derby Région Pays de la Loire, one of the high points of the Jumping International de La Baule — Officiel de France (6–9 June 2024). The course designer of the competition, Grégory Bodo, has concocted a course that is modern and, at the same time, in line with the historic dimension of the event, with even more natural obstacles. 

 

There is one moment that never fails to make the crowds go wild in the François André Stadium. Packed with a water crossing, uphill and downhill banks, mounds and other natural obstacles, the Derby Région Pays de la Loire is in the genes of the competition. It is one of the highlights of the weekend and a historic throwback. Its list of winners includes the all-time greats, from the Brazilian wizard Nelson Pessoa, who prevailed six times between 1975 and 1995, to Patrice Delaveau, a three-time champion and most recent French victor (2019).

The spectators watching the 2024 Derby Région Pays de la Loire on Saturday, 8 June (2:15 pm) will discover a new course with new obstacles. “The Derby is part of the competition’s DNA”, stresses Grégory Bodo, the Officiel de France course designer. “However, the start list for this event had got shorter in recent years. We wanted to shake up the course and return to the roots of the Derby, with more natural obstacles. We love this natural side. The historical dimension matters too, so I built upon the foundations of the Derby and added a touch of modernity.”

 

The total number of obstacles will remain unchanged at 21, including traditional natural obstacles such as mounts, ramps, a permanent water jump and a lake. In contrast, the course will be revamped. “It will be straightforward, with few changes of hand, mirroring the great derbies of the world, such as Hamburg [GER], Calgary [CAN] and Hickstead [GBR]”, points out the course designer. “I wanted to come up with a course that spices up the competition, electrifies the atmosphere and piques the riders’ interest. That means imagining a course that sets the stage for an exciting sporting duel, but which also has an ’emotional’ dimension, so that they feel they’re doing something different. There’s also a tinge of nostalgia for the spectators because this classic Derby will take them on a trip down memory lane. The design also strove to make sure that spectators in every corner of the stadium (from the grandstands to the lodges) can see the performances of the horses and their riders from up close at some point.” A fresh promise of a thrilling sporting spectacle fraught with emotions.