Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 1
The German eventing team took a commanding lead after dressage (114.3) at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, when the top three team riders placed first, seventh and 11th at the conclusion of the phase. That’s not even counting Simone Deitermann, who currently sits third and is competing for Germany as an individual.
The U.S team had a disappointing day, finishing in seventh with 140 points. The highest placed U.S. rider is Becky Holder, who sits fifth with Courageous Comet (39.3), but she’s riding as an individual. Karen O’Connor is the highest-placed team rider on 44.8 penalties for 18th place in the 79-horse field.
The worse disappointment of the day, however, was for French rider Karim Florent Laghouagh who was eliminated at the end of his test when President of the Ground Jury Marilyn Payne discovered blood on the mouth of his mount Havenir d’Azac.
Michael Jung led the German juggernaut aboard La Biosthetique-Sam FBW to win on a score of 33.0 penalties. Their test would have held up at any dressage show, scoring consistent 8s and 9s all the way through.
“The horse is absolutely a bundle of energy,” said Jung.
“When Michael came in it was just solid 8, 8, 8, and my scribe said, ‘I’m getting bored giving 8s.’ So I said, ‘OK, how about a 9?’ ” joked Marilyn Payne, who judged at C.
Italy’s Stefano Brecciaroli placed second with Apollo van de Wendi Kurt Hoeve (35.5) over Dietermann (36.0) and Belgium’s Karin Donckers on Gazelle de la Brasserie CH (38.8).
Holder said she was thrilled with her dressage test. “I’ve been working really hard with Gunnar Ostergaard recently, getting him more confirmed on the aids so he can pay attention to me instead of looking at the flowers or the boards. I felt like he was with me every single movement of the test. He took a breath and was totally there to show off.”
In contrast, O’Connor thought she’d left her best test in the warm-up. “He warmed up like he was going into the mid-30s,” she said. “But he’s a funny horse—all the crowd doesn’t make him more up and out; it makes him more introverted. When the crowd went off, he was just like a turtle in his shell. It was very hard to get him back out in front of me.
“He got some very good marks, I think. It’s a good team score, but I wished it had been at least 5 points better,” she continued. “The outline and the presentation needed to be much more forward. I just couldn’t get there.”
Dutton blamed himself for his 32nd-placed dressage finish (48.2).
“I’m very disappointed actually. He’s a great horse. It’s just that there was tension. Obviously it will help him on cross-country; he’s such a forward thinking, wanting to go kind of horse,” said Dutton. “I went in there and went for it all, and it caught up with me at the end. In hindsight maybe I should have backed off a little bit at the beginning and made it not quite as stressful on him. He might have handled the whole test a little bit better.”
Despite the unfortunate start, all the riders agreed that this won’t be a dressage competition at the end of the day.
“I think it’s difficult to the end of the course,” said Jung. “Very big jumps, and it’s long, the longest cross-country for me. It’s up and down, and you must pace yourself around the whole course.”
“It’s a big very challenging course,” agreed O’Connor. “Mike [Etherington-Smith] is a magician. I think he’s gotten it really right. There’s an opportunity for every rider to get around the course with all the options. But the horses that are going to go clear and inside the time are going to have to be very good gallopers with big lungs; very experienced horses and riders.”
“There are going to be dreams broken all around that course tomorrow,” she added.
Cross-country begins at 10:04 tomorrow morning with Nicola Wilson riding first for Great Britain aboard Opposition Buzz.