A raft of French celebrities – equine and otherwise – are supporting the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, which get under way in Normandy, France in under four months.
National and international celebrities – including actors, presenters, impersonators, former professional riders – comprise the Games’ Ambassadors Committee: some have been horse-lovers since their childhood, others started riding recently, and a few simply wanted to promote their home region. But one thing they all have in common is that they are proud to use their image, their talent and their motivation to promote the Games. They all share the same ambitions as us: to make the Normandy 2014 edition an event to remember in France’s number one equestrian region.
Many of these ambassadors are already keen riders, and have strong ties with the horse world. This includes Pierre Durand, individual Olympic Jumping champion in Seoul in 1988 – and the winner of the very first edition of the World Equestrian Games in Stockholm in 1990, in the team jumping event.
There’s also Nicolas Canteloup, one of France’s favourite impersonators, was a riding teacher well before becoming a famous comedian. Still today, he can often be seen at Eventing competitions at weekends.
Each of the Committee’s ambassadors can choose their level of involvement, but all are committed to spreading the word about the world’s greatest equestrian event.
Writer Jean-Louis Gouraud has for the past year been penning stories for the “Around the World in 80 Horses” project. Some ambassadors will come along to celebrate the D-100 countdown on 15 May; and others will be on site during the Games to meet spectators and cheer on the competitors.
Guillaume Canet, an internationally-renowned actor and producer, was a show jumper before being injured and turning his focus towards dramatic arts. Currently taking a break from his artistic career, he is fully embracing his passion for equestrianism, tackling courses of jumps at a variety of different horse shows.
Véronique Jannot has a particular liking for spectacular horse-related performances thanks to her friendship with stunt rider Mario Luraschi. She is also the spokesperson for a captivating discipline that is still largely unknown to the public: Para-Dressage.
Benjamin Castaldi and Julien Courbet, who both rose to fame after presenting television programmes, are keen show jumpers in their spare time. Alexia Laroche-Joubert and Sophie Thalmann share their love of horses through their jobs: Alexia produces programmes for the Equidia channel, and Sophie presents programmes about Man’s most noble conquest.
The other ambassadors, though they are not avid horse-riding fans, are passionate about sport in general and all hail from Normandy, including Malika Ménard, former Miss France, who grew up in Caen and today presents several sports programmes on television.
More ambassadors are being added over the coming months.