The career of Orient Express HDC came to a close over the weekend in an official retirement ceremony, held under lights in the very fitting arena of the Longines Masters of Paris CSI5*.
The 14-year-old, Selle Francis stallion (Quick Star x Le Tot De Semilly) entered the competition arena one last time joined by his owners, rider, the French team and also by Jeroen Dubbeldam and Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, who both rode him in competition at the 2014 WEG, in the now defunct Final Four Championship.
Orient Express was bred in France by EARL Haras de la Gisloterie in Ste. Marguerite d’Elle, and in 2011, was purchased by the famed Haras des Coudrettes in Normandy, France. After campaigning with French rider Jonathan Tirard in 2010, Orient Express was paired with his longtime jockey Patrice Delaveau in early 2011.
Since then it’s been a starry path for the horse and rider. Delaveau and Orient Express began showing at the international, CSI5* level right from the get-go; their first competition together was the CSIO5* La Baule 2011. That same year, the pair won the Longines Grand Prix at CSI5* Falsterbo, and jumped clear to place 3rd with the French team in the Royal Dublin Horse Show’s FEI Nations Cup.
Throughout his career, Orient Express HDC added half a dozen Nations Cup appearances to his record, but his most memorable rounds undoubtedly came at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.
There, in front of the adulation of a home crowd, Delaveau and Orient Express put in electrifying rounds to make it all the way to the Final Four individual championship. On that day, September 7, 2014, Orient Express jumped four clear rounds under the saddle of four different riders, picking up just a single time fault in one round.
That performance earned Delaveau the individual silver medal, adding to the team silver that France had earned earlier in the week.
In 2016, Orient Express HDC was campaigned on a lighter schedule—recurring injury dogged his 2015 season, and after careful rehab and with the consideration of his owners, the decision was made to retire him to the life of a breeding stallion. The Haras Des Coudrettes training and breeding facilities in the gorgeous countryside in France are some of the best in the world, and HDC is well-known for retiring their top horses to well-deserved lives of rest and relaxation. In the same ceremony at Paris, the HDC mount Ornella Mail was also retired.