Eventer killed in cross-country accident in France

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Maxime Debost and Qurt de Montplaisir at Chateaubriant.
Maxime Debost and Qurt de Montplaisir at Chateaubriant.

French rider Maxime Debost has died following a fatal fall on the cross-country of a CCI1* at Chateaubriant today.

Debost, 29, suffered a rotational fall with his horse Qurt de Montplaisir at the 11th fence, half-way around the cross-country course.

He is the first rider killed in the sport this year, with the last being Russian eventer Nikita Sotskov at an event in Belarus last September.

On-site medical specialists were at the scene immediately after the accident at Chateaubriant, but sadly could not save Debost. Qurt de Montplaisir, 13, was uninjured in the fall.

The rest of the day’s cross-country competition was cancelled following the accident and police and the FEI are conducting a full investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said she spoke on behalf of everyone in the equestrian community in expressing grief at the news of Debost’s death. “This is a really tragic accident. Maxime was a very experienced rider who had been competing internationally for the past 12 years and his loss will affect so many people in our community.

“On behalf of the FEI and everyone in the global eventing family, I extend our sincere condolences to Maxime’s family and his many friends in the sport, and to the French Equestrian Federation.

“We are working tirelessly to minimise the risk factors in our sport, particularly in eventing, and today’s accident brings home just how important this work is.”

Originally from Lyon, Debost was based in Rambouillet with his partner Marie Gouëllo and their son Raphaël. He had been competing on the international eventing circuit since 2005, including completing the CCI4* at Pau in 2010 with ITHaurel. He rode two horses at the Chateaubriant event in 2016, finishing third with Qurt De Montplaisir, the horse he rode to ninth place at the CICO3* Nations Cup event in Haras du Pin last month. He won at the CCI1* at both Haras du Pin and Jardy last year with Texas De Cavilly and was second in the Haras du Pin CIC3* with Qurt De Montplaisir. He also competed at the CCIO3* FEI Nations Cup event at Boekelo (NED) in October last year.

Ground Jury President Pascal Leborgne said: “On very rare occasions a rider loses their life during a three-day event. This loss is a tragedy. On this sad occasion, the organising committee and the eventing world offers Maxime Debost’s family their thoughts and prayers.”

Organising committee chairman Yves Després said those riders in the CCI1* who wished to, could continue the competition, and that the 2* and third-day national competitions would continue.

A minute of silence was planned for Sunday’s prizegiving, and riders were able to wear a black armband during their competitions.

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