It’s World Cup Finals Week! We’re thrilled to be profiling the new faces heading to Omaha this year, and we couldn’t be more excited for these riders taking their first crack at glory. We’ll be bringing you exclusive profiles on each rookie pair, so keep checking back to learn more about the competitors you’ll see making their World Cup Jumping Finals Debut.
Name: Olivier Robert
Horse: Quenelle Du Py (13 yo Selle Francais/Anglo Arab, Mare)
World Cup Qualifying Division: Western European League
Olivier Robert (France) first began his love of riding at the age of six, riding in the Bordeax region where he was born. He was not born into a riding family, but he persevered in the sport even as he proved to be a talented young player in soccer, as well. When he was around 15 years old, he decided to give up his future in soccer to whole-heartedly pursue equestrian sport
It was at this time he began working with French eventing legend Dominique Bentejac, a two-time Olympian for France who took Olivier under his wing and formed him into a jumping machine. He groomed for Dominique at first, then become his most valued pupil.
The sport being what it is with extreme costs and demands, Olivier ended his apprenticeship with Dominique and opened a restaurant to make ends meet and continued to ride as an amateur in show jumping, eventually earning enough to put together an incredible string which included Gorky du Theillet, Brakar, and Inca de l’Oasis, the latter of whom would become a household name in the sport.
These three horses catapult Olivier’s riding to the point that he fully commits to life as a professional, and Robert made the difficult decision to sell Oasis to Rodrigo Pessoa to buy his own farm and put out his shingle (Coincidentally, Rodrigo went on to ride Oasis at the 2007 FEI World Cup Final.)
Olivier acquired exceptional new horses and brought up a talented young string himself, and had a breakout year in 2015 on the international circuit, participating in the CSI 5* in Bordeaux and then as a French team member of the FEI Nations Cup in Wellington.
Olivier qualified for the World Cup accumulating points almost exclusively on one horse – Quenelle du Py, a stunning 13-year-old Selle Francais/Anglo Arabian. He and Quenelle were 12th in the qualifier in Helsinki, fifth in Lyon, eighth at the London Olympia, and secured their ticket to the finals with a fourth place finish in the qualifier at Gothenburg at the end of February.
Olivier has gotten to the top of the sport the hard way, made enormous sacrifices, and never relented in his quest for glory. Now he’ll finally have his shot – no small feat when you consider that his competition included members of the 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist French team and a host of top-ranked FEI show jumpers in the Western European League. Olivier got to the World Cup Finals the hard way, in every single sense of the word.
He’d be one incredible underdog to win the event, and we have a feeling based on this three-star victory gallop at Valence in 2015, a win at the World Cup would be quite a sight to behold for fans the world over:
Follow Olivier’s journey at the World Cup on his Facebook Page. We wish him and Quenelle du Py the best of luck on their World Cup Journey!