“We are all horsemen, and it is only natural that we want to share this passion with others through the media”.
The RB Presse Agency, which was founded in 1994 by Pascal Renauldon (the R), journalist, and Sophie Bienaimé (the B), equestrian and artistic director of the Grandes Écuries de Chantilly and well-known personality in the world of polo. RB Presse oversee the press releases for prestigious tournaments such as the Hublot Gold Cup in Gstaad, Switzerland, the Gold Cup in Deauville and the French Open in Chantilly, France. The agency also partners with various publishers, like POLO+10, and provide reports and PR articles, including stunning photographs, to promote their clients’ events, clubs or businesses; in this issue of the magazine they produced the Argentine Open coverage.
How did you get into the Public Relations business sector?
Really by chance. I‘m a journalist at heart. But in 1991, after meeting ATP officials at Roland Garros, I created the world ranking of show jumpers, which I was able to develop and launch with a Dutch marketing agency, BCM, who asked me to promote it to the press. BCM also organized several showjumping competitions and oversaw the press offices for the biggest equestrian event in the world, the CHIO Aachen, and asked me to join the press team as an editor. Then the Jumping de La Baule was organizing the European Championships that year and asked me to run the relations with foreign television stations, which were numerous at that time for equestrian events. Then, in 1994, I came back to France and met my wife, Sophie Bienaimé, who was a rider but also press officer for the Musée vivant du Cheval (Living Museum of the Horse) in Chantilly and we created R&B and very quickly the clients came by themselves, first of all the very prestigious Jumping International de Bordeaux of which we are still in charge of their press relations 28 years later.
You created R&B with your future wife, today you work with your daughter Adèle, who is also an excellent photographer for your agency: is R&B a family business?
Yes, today I work with my two daughters (Adèle and Sophie Jr. who are both communication graduates) and Sophie, my wife, keeps a keen eye on the agency. Having had several employees, I can tell you that it is much more pleasant and productive to work as a family because everyone is really involved and takes initiative (and ownership).
Does your agency only specialize in the equestrian sector?
Essentially, yes, although we do touch on tourism, arts and entertainment with the activities of the Grandes Écuries de Chantilly. We are all horsemen, and it is only natural that we want to share this passion with others through the media.
Are you also a polo player?
Yes, this is probably my last „life“ as a rider. I started with a first career in eventing thanks to a stable that my father had set up in Normandy and which enabled us to reach the best national level in France. Then I went to live in Germany between 1983 and 1993 where I did a lot of show jumping up to „S“ level (highest level in German show jumping). I loved competing in Germany, it was both very competitive and very friendly and the system allowed me to compete with great German riders like Ludger Beerbaum or Franke Sloothaak. One day, in 1984 I think, I found myself in a class with three World Champions: Hans-Günther Winkler, Norbert Koof and Gert Wiltfang, it was impressive. Then I came back to France and continued showjumping a bit, but it was less fun than in Germany. As I was in Chantilly, I went to the club which offered me to run the media relations for the French Open which took place in 2000 for the first time. That‘s how I gradually got into polo. But it is in this discipline that I am clearly the least brilliant and the least successful. Adèle is following my footsteps and she is doing much better than me, fortunately. She was silver medalist at the first European Women‘s Championship in 2017 and won the Ladies Cup in Deauville with Lia Salvo.
Is your wife also a rider?
Of course, she is a rider in the Compagnie équestre des Grandes Écuries de Chantilly. As their equestrian and artistic director, she writes and runs 2 big shows every year which attract over 60,000 spectators across the in 140 performances under the dome of the Grandes Écuries which can accommodate 600 people at a time.
Sophie also manages a team of 8 riders with various artistic talents (singers for example) who star in the shows and 4 grooms and she is responsible for the purchasing and training of a stable of 40 horses. She even brings on some of the horses herself from a novice to high school levels.
What do you like about polo?
The same thing as in show jumping: the ‘polo spirit’ of performing at high riding standards and the presentations and shows it offers; the constant search for excellence, the rigor, and the work of the breeders behind it all and seeing the quality of the horses constantly improve. And then the adrenalin of sport: an undecided game that is decided in an extra chukker or the jump-off of a Grand Prix that is decided in a few hundredths of a second. I was lucky enough to live in the era of Adolfo Cambiaso, who is surely the greatest player of all time. My job allows me to be in contact with these great players like him or the Pieres, the Heguy or these great riders like Nelson Pessoa, Marcus Ehning, Ludger Beerbaum who are legends of their sports. This all excites me.
And what I like the most, is the ability to spend time with my daughter around the horses. For us, taking good care of our horses, training them, caring for their well-being and the relationship with them is almost more important than the game itself.
So, you go to Argentina every year to follow the Abierto?
Absolutely, since 2001. That year I started to take an interest in polo. My wife always looks for inspiration for her shows and uses our trips to gather specific, authentic materials, like props, riding gear, costumes, to give her shows originality. Thanks to horses and polo, we have been able to go on fabulous trips and meet fantastic people in India, Mongolia, China, Africa or Russia. In 2001 we went to Argentina because Sophie wanted to put on a show called ‘Polo Tango’. That year, when we arrived in an Argentina it was in the middle of the big Argentine Crisis, but we were still able to attend a game of the Abierto, my first match in Palermo with the Chapa Uno. I was fascinated and vowed to return to Buenos Aires every year. Over the years I was able to approach all the great players, interviewing them for different magazines. I remember being invited to a private asado by the Heguy of Indios Chapaleufù II and shared only by them, Pepe, Ruso and Nachi, their parents and Milo Fernandez in the emblematic club of Los Indios. A great memory. That year they won the Abierto against their cousins.
Text Julia Riewald
photography RB Presse