All major events have their own history, a mixture of friendships, passions and common wiishes. Le Grand Complet is the perfect illustration of this. We have to go back to 1995 in a typical French bistrot in Cherbourg (northern part of Normandy), a discussion between friends fans of eventing and a festive atmosphere gave birth of the history of Le Grand Complet. The small group takes the crazy bet of creating a competition at the gates of the capital of Cotentin, the northern part of Normandy. This is how this unique event, organized by the Ustica association and a handful of irreducible Normans, was born. “Ustica was the name of one of the best mares we have ever owned,” Pierre Le Goupil explains, who is in charge of designing the cross-country course. “My brothers and I started horse riding with her. She took us on our first eventing classes. She was a tiny grey mare with such a great heart that she was able to take us over huge jumps that we would have never dreamt of. She’s a memories synchretism!” It would be called “Le Grand Complet”, a brand now registered and known around the world. Ustica, an association based in Martinvast, close to Cherbourg since its creation, brings together dozens of volunteers. Some families are even in the 3rd generation involved in the event. Grandparents, parents and children gather each year with the same fervor.
A human adventure
A family story
It’s not possible to talk about Le Grand Complet without mentioning the Le Goupil family. André, the patriarch, participated at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games in eventing, with the help of his groom Bernadette… who was also his wife. They settled together at the Carneville Farm, at the gateway of Cherbourg, in the village of Martinvast. It was there that Le Grand Complet became in less than a decade the BIGGEST equestrian event in Normandy and one of the most important in France and Europe. First at a regional level and soon later at a national level, the competition reached the international milestone as early as 2000. With more than 15,000 visitors, Le Grand Complet is one of the most important events in France.
Longtime director and conductor of the event, Pierre Le Goupil now shares his time cross-country designing and building around the world. Guillaume Blanc, a loyal friend and volunteer, also reknown international technical delegate, took over the position of Sports Director in 2010. Valérie Moulin, also a long-time volunteer and an equine osteopath, now chairs Ustica.
A few dates
- 1995: 1st regional edition.
- 1997: Le Grand Complet organizes a national class.
- 2000: organization of the first international.
- 2002: obtaining the FEI World Cuplabel, major year with the victory of Jean Teulère and Espoir de la Mare a few weeks before being crowned World Champions.
- 2004: Olympic year, Arnaud Boiteau’s victory in Athens, crowned with gold, and then at Le Grand Complet in the FEI World Cup class.
- 2008: 14th edition of Le Grand Complet, last one on the site of Martinvast, 7th FEI World Cup class.
- 2009: no event due to change of site.
- 2010: Le Grand Complet moves, 1st edition to the Haras national du Pin (Orne), 8th FEI World Cup, return of the circuit in France.
- 2012: 17th edition of Le Grand Complet, 5th and final leg of the FEI World Cup circuit (the last ever organized in the world, the circuit having been stopped that same year).
- 2014: no Le Grand Complet this year, the place being left at the World Equestrian Games.
- 2017: Le Grand Complet becomes the only venue of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup circuit inFrance.
- 2018: 22nd edition, Le Grand Complet becomes the world’s no.1 international eventing competition in terms of riders (370).
- 2019: 23rd edition.