French rider Astier Nicolas (28) was a member of the French Olympic gold medal team in Rio last year, where he won the individual silver medal with Badminton entry Piaf de B’Neville.
Astier who is based south of Deauville in north-west Normandy, competed at Badminton last year finishing 14th (Quickly du Buguet). He is ranked 11th in the FEI world ranking.
Astier first rode aged five and encouraged by his mother joined the pony club and began competing ponies at the age of nine.
For six consecutive years from 2005 Astier was a member of the French Pony, Junior and Young Rider team to contest European Championships – he won two team bronze medals and in 2009 at the Young Rider Europeans, individual silver – and is the only French rider to have competed in pony, junior and young rider and senior teams. He has also been the French national young rider champion. In 2011, he was 17th at Le Lion d’Angers in the World Championship for seven-year-old horses with Quickly du Buguet and was the highest placed French rider at Lumühlen CCI4* (18th) with Jhakti du Janlie (Jak), his first four-star competition.
In 2012 he graduated from Hartpury College (BSc Equine Science) and jumped to prominence in the UK when winning the 2012 British Under-25 championship at Bramham with Piaf. He was long-listed for the 2012 French Olympic team and made his senior team debut in the 2013 European Championships at Malmo winning team bronze. In 2014 with Quickly du Buguet he won the three-star at Blair Castle.
Astier trains with Thierry Touzaint
He enjoys rugby and skiing
Piaf de B’Neville owned by Ben & Partners, is a 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding. He is by Cap de B’Neville out of a mare by Reve d’Elle. He was bred by Jean-Baptiste Thiebot of Haras de B’Neville, the President of the Cheval Normandie. Piaf (meaning sparrow) was spotted by Astier’s mother and acquired by a syndicate as a six-year-old – he had been returned to the stud by another rider as unfit for competition. Piaf was honoured by the EHOA in 2011 and the following year won Bramham Under-25. In 2015 he was the winner of the four-star in Pau and last year, team Olympic gold and individual silver. Astier describes him as ‘a legion during competition, always trying his best with an exceptional brain and wholly cool back in the stable’.
Quickly du Buguet
16.3hh , bay , mare
Sire Zandor Z
Dam Fourmie des Pins (Naswan)
Breeder Odile COTINET
Owner(s): Benedicte Nicolas, Balma, France