malgre tout media logo with sign
3 minutes

Portrait: Julien Épaillard, the Fast Frenchman

Julien Épaillard - Photo credit: Eponimm, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: Eponimm, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Julien Épaillard, the French show jumper, has enjoyed a successful career in equestrian sports for many years. Despite being relatively unknown outside of France until a few years ago, the 46-year-old continues to display signs of improvement, and his best years in the sport might very well still be ahead of him. This is the story of his career up to this point.

Early Years and Youth Success

Born into a family of horse enthusiasts, Julien Épaillard started riding at a young age. Displaying immense talent early on, he became part of France's youth national team during his adolescence, participating twice in the Young Riders European Championships. In 1996, he achieved notable success, winning silver with the French team and gold in the individual competition. Transitioning to the senior level, he quickly built a solid riding career, though it would take several years before he truly approached the pinnacle of the sport. Despite this, he had still made an impression on many followers of show jumping with his speed in the arena. He is often the rider with the fastest time in every competition he participates in. On the one hand, this has brought him a lot of attention, but he has admitted that he might have won more if he rode at a slower pace.

Also Read: Portrait: Kerrigan Gluch, Rising Star in American Dressage Riding

Rise to Prominence and Partnership with Caracole

In the early months of 2019, at the age of 41, Épaillard was ranked 50th on the FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale) ranking and had not yet participated in a major international championship at the senior level. However, 2019 proved to be a turning point for him. Throughout the year, he climbed the rankings and finished in the top 20, a position he has maintained since. Subsequent years brought further highlights, either in climbing the ranks or competing in prestigious events.

By 2022, Épaillard had firmly established himself as one of the sport's top riders. A significant factor in this recognition was his partnership with the mare Caracole De La Roque. Starting their collaboration in the previous year, the pair quickly showcased their talent. Despite challenges due to pandemic-related cancellations in previous years affecting Caracole's development, they rapidly progressed to the point of competing in the 2022 World Championships. While the event in Herning did not yield significant success for the duo or the French team, it marked a significant milestone for Épaillard – his first participation in a major international championship as a senior rider after three decades as a professional.

Also Read: Can horses really think and feel?

New Achievements

In January 2023, it was announced that Caracole had been sold and would now be ridden by American rider Karl Cook. Despite this change, Épaillard continued to achieve new milestones with different horses. Last year, he reached a new peak in the FEI rankings, holding the second position from April to November. During this period, he, along with the mare Dubai Du Cedre, participated in the European Championships in Milan. The French team finished eighth, but Épaillard and Dubai secured third place.

Looking ahead, Épaillard aims to be selected for the Olympics in Paris later this year. Outside the competition arena, he resides in France with his wife Susana, who is also involved in both competitive riding and horse breeding. One of the family's homebred horses are Donatello, who along with Dubai, has been Épaillard's top horse since the sale of Caracole. Épaillards success in recent years tells a story that despite his speed on the field, it is his long-term work that has brought him to the top, and in the tale of the hare and the tortoise, he embodies both.

Also Read: Portrait: European- and World-Champion Event Rider Rosalind Canter


Related articles

magnifiercrossmenu linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram