The eventing world is in mourning following the death of French rider at Chateaubriant Horse Trials in France.
French rider Maxime Debost suffered a fatal fall in the CCI* on Saturday (September 23) when he had a rotational fall with his horse Qurt de Montplaisir at Fence 11, halfway round the cross-country course. On-site medical specialists were at the scene immediately after the accident, but sadly the athlete could not be saved. The horse 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.
French riders led the tributes following the accident, with many posting their thoughts to their Facebook pages.
Maxime Livio posted: “No words are relevant enough to express the sadness of such a day. This sport constantly reminds us of the humility and prudence it requires. Most sincere tribute to a talented rider and friend of my generation.”
Gwendolen Fer posted: “I still hear your laugh and your good mood… our sport is beautiful but so hard and unfair. RIP Max”
Astier Nicholas posted: “Black Saturday, no logical reason, only tragic. Sport hard
It’s kind of exhausting. It hurts. Rest in peace. You unite us more than ever in pain and we need it for this sport.”
Originally from Lyon, 29-year-old 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.
FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez commented: “This is a really tragic accident and I know I speak on behalf of everyone in the equestrian community in expressing our grief at this terrible news about Maxime Debost. 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.”
Pascal Leborgne, President of the Ground Jury at the event, 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.”