France’s Eric Navet wasn’t a former world champion or an Olympic gold medalist on Saturday morning at the Longines Masters of Los Angeles—he was just a proud dad with a smile on his face, wrapping his daughter in a big bear hug.
Nineteen-year-old Estelle Navet is putting proof behind an expression that she surely hears often—the talented young rider is following in her famous father’s footsteps with her own budding riding career. Three years ago, Navet moved his family from their native France to Southern California in order for Navet to work with student Karl Cook full time. For Estelle, who has been riding her whole life, the move simply gave her a new training ground, and she’s been jumping around at the regional and national levels ever since.
The Longines Masters of Los Angeles marked Navet’s very first CSI-rated competition, and she made it one to remember. Over three days of jumping, she never placed lower than 4th place, and took top honors in two classes.
Saturday’s competition, the 1.40m, $7,500 Terranea Resort Trophy CSI2*, wreaked some havoc on the order, with multiple falls and rails down. But Navet, who is coached by both her father, and her mother Ursula, stuck to the words of advice that Eric gave her during their coursewalk.
“He told me to ride smooth and use a good head,” said Navet. “We walk the course and he gives me details and then when we walk out he says to go with my feeling, stay calm and do your thing and see where that brings you.”
Estelle executed a smooth ride with Revann de Lojou, an 11-year-old Selle Francis gelding (Diamant de Semilly x Laudanum) owned by Monsieur Claude Trehoral. Just four riders jumped clear in the single round class, with Estelle’s time best by almost a full second.
“I just rode with my feeling and as fast as the horse and I could do it but in a safe way I would say,” Navet commented on her strategy for the class. “I didn’t search to win, I just wanted to go quick and do a nice round but I didn’t want to push.”
It’s impossible not to be a little starstruck with the likes of Scott Brash and Patrice Delaveau competing in the same ring, Estelle admitted.
“This show is really impressive. You see the best horses and riders in the world and then you go in the same ring where they compete-it’s just amazing.”
Navet’s success in her first CSI outing is giving her the confidence to continue to strive towards competing in the higher levels over the next few years. Until then, she’s balancing her college academics with her competitive riding with the help of a proud dad, Eric Navet, to help on the journey.