Its owner Christian Baillet remembers well: “When Philippe told me he would be in Rio and that we had to find another rider to ride Rahotep, I told him it would be Eric Navet and no one else. If he can't, we don't make the final. »A small session at Maisons-Laffitte to discover the horse and the 1990 world champion accepts. But Rahotep remains in the depths of the standings. "Despite everything, Eric told me he had potential, that it would be a good horse," said Ms. Baillet. It was heartwarming. However, it will take several more years to fully reveal it.
“It was a very late horse,” continues Philippe Rozier. We could not imagine his future destiny. During his 6, 7 and 8 years, he was a piquet horse, nothing more. Mr. Baillet had told me, moreover, that if a buyer came forward, we could discuss. But frankly, when you didn't know him, there was no point in buying him. We chose to wait, to give him time. M. Baillet is a great horseman and he understood that. I didn't pretend to say I knew what was going to happen, but I didn't feel like wasting my time either. I chose to protect him and it wasn't until he was 9 that he started to boost. "
By his side, every day, Rahotep enjoys the care and attention of his groom Maud Ligouzat. “I arrived at Philippe's on August 28, 2012,” says Maud. I remember it very well. I was immediately asked to accompany the horses leaving for the Young Horses finals. And for the 7 years old, there was a little gray in the box on the left. It was Rahotep. He was therefore the first horse I took care of at Philippe's. There was a meeting, that's obvious. I love all the horses I take care of but I found him to be a special character. After this first meeting, he went to the meadow at M. Baillet's and on his return, we went to the Sunshine Tour and then to Oliva. So we spent 8 weeks together. I was the only bellboy on the trip which made the bond even stronger. "Also ideal for discovering the stallion's personality. “He is very contact-seeking and is quite playful,” says Maud. He is a very nice horse but also very impressive. He can play it a bit with people he feels uncomfortable at times. In competition, sometimes, he made Philippe misery. When relaxed he did what he wanted and when he didn't, well he would stop. It wasn't reluctance, it was character. We had to let him do it. Ultimately, there was no domination relationship but a balanced relationship. And then over the years, it got a little less. He understood that the bars were going up and that we had to warm up a bit more ... "
Philippe Rozier confirms the character of his partner. "All he cared about was galloping into the forest and eating the branches of the trees," he smiles. Exercises in the career were not his thing. I happened to stop after only 5 minutes. I realized he didn't need too much practice. He was kind of a lazy king, much like Kreisker's Quickly. He had to find a balance with his strong personality. "
Patience is a precious virtue in the horse world. That of Mr. Baillet and Philippe Rozier will be rewarded. Rahotep transforms as soon as he steps onto the track and begins to string together the big results. Little by little, the "anonymous" horse of the champion's stake becomes one of its leaders. But the career of a top horse is often filled with upheavals. “In 2015, after a great 2014, we felt at Hickstead that he was not quite the way he used to be,” says Maud. With Philippe we told each other that something was happening but it was hard to understand. We were in a "he is good ... but ..." type of thinking and then we went to "he is not good". We had to accept his injury. The verdict falls: tendonitis in the left posterior.
“Honestly, after his tendonitis, the selection for the Games seemed very far away, recognizes Philippe. France had a lot of very successful couples and I felt it was going to be complicated. With Rahotep, we slowly picked up on 120, 125 in Portugal. At the beginning of May, in Le Touquet, he came out with two faults in the Grand Prix but I felt it. A week later, in La Baule he was flying. With Jean-Maurice Bonneau who was with me and Philippe Guerdat, we thought there was something to be done. We therefore continued on the competitions in Rome, and Saint-Tropez. In Knokke, we finished 2nd in the Grand Prix, 7 hundredths behind the winner (Daniel Deusser). He was walking around. We are finally going to Aachen to compete in the Nations Cup. "
Rahotep from Tuscany, Philippe Rozier and Maud Ligouzat finally fly to Rio. First with reservist status before joining the team following the withdrawal of Simon Delestre and Hermès Ryan. History is on the way.
“In Brazil, he had incredible concentration,” says Philippe. It was not his style, however. Rahotep was a difficult horse to concentrate. Sometimes, three strides away from the obstacle, you felt like he wasn't there, that he was looking away and you wondered what was going to happen. In Rio, he was incredibly receptive. I had never seen him like this. He got into the same shape as us. "The atmosphere was very special," recalls Maud. The tension was very special. Horses are very sensitive to body energy. In children, this is called tonic-emotional language. The Games create something different for us. Even with Philippe’s experience, there is a different stress management. The horse understands that he is going to have to surpass himself. For example, before the individual final, during the veto visit, the track had already been climbed. I had never seen such a huge course. This necessarily creates a different body language and the horse feels it. I don't have the words to express what we've been through. You have to live it to understand it. The script was crazy but at the same time, I felt like it was written and it couldn't be more perfect. The horse was ready, Philippe was ready, everyone wanted to do well in an amazing team. "
Upon arrival, a team gold medal around the neck and memories for all eternity. “My career is long,” says Philippe. I have met many exceptional horses that have allowed me to participate in five editions of the Olympic Games (1984 in Los Angeles with Jiva; 1988 in Seoul with Jiva - reservist; 1996 in Atlanta with Rocco - reservist; 2000 in Sydney with Barbarian; 2016 in Rio with Rahotep from Tuscany). These horses have one thing in common: I "made" them all from A to Z. They were not bought "ready-made" horses. This gives a special flavor to these results. It’s very symbolic of Mr. Baillet’s spirit. "
An owner passionate about sport but who has always chosen to trust his rider and those around him. “The proximity to our horses necessarily exists,” he explains. We need that feeling. But outside of the competition. During a competition or a championship, Rahotep was surrounded by his groom, his rider, the staff. I never wanted to interfere. The owner doesn't have to be there like a pet. On the other hand, I have always found the time to go to training at Philippe's in Bois-le-Roi, to see him in his box and have this "intimate" relationship. From now on, we will provide to pamper him. "
In his meadow at Haras de la Coudraie, in Irreville, in the Eure, Rahotep from Tuscany is now enjoying a sweet retirement and can start his second life as a stallion. By his side, he reunited with his brother Jadis from Tuscany, but also Lauterbach and so many other champions. "It could not be better," rejoices his date. M. Baillet's stud farm in Normandy is magnificent. There is Christian of course but also his wife Denyse completely passionate about horses. When he arrived in Normandy, she texted me "now he's mine". "" He has deserved his retirement, insists Maud who does not miss an opportunity to come and see him to bring him some grapes, her sweet tooth. He will be able to gallop under the loving eyes of his owners. And that is priceless. "
Last interlude in Rahotep's program, this final tribute paid by the audience of the Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping. "I hadn't thought about it," says Christian Baillet. But when it was offered to me, I immediately accepted. The audience loves these moments a lot and when it's done right it's always very emotional. It's a fair turnaround for these horses that make you want so much. »And which made us dream so much.