Lexington, Ky.—Oct. 2
After the conclusion of cross-country today at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Eventing Championships in Lexington, Ky., Germany’s Michael Jung and La Biosthetique-Sam FBW maintained their spot at the top of leaderboard on their dressage score of 33.0. But not much else stayed the same today, as Michael Etherington-Smith’s 28-jump course proved influential on the rest of the standings, individual and team.
The team from Germany had a commanding lead going into cross-country, but when Dirk Schrade’s horse Gadget De La Cere fell at fence 27, and Euroriding Butts Leon and Andreas Dibowski picked up two refusals at fence 7B, the ditch of the Walnut Hall Corner, they dropped to fifth place.
Germany’s misfortune was an opportunity for the teams from Great Britain, the United States and Canada. The Brits went into the lead with three clear rounds (139.4), but they don’t have a rail in hand over the United States (143.3), and Canada is close behind (147.5.)
On the individual front, Jung has a comfortable lead of 11 points over Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt on Cool Mountain (42.0). Becky Holder, who is riding for the United States as an individual, currently sits third on Courageous Comet (42.5).
“He was just absolutely amazing,” Holder said. “He was so tuned into me the whole way. He loves this park, and he loves to gallop here. The jumps looked tough, but they were doable if you kept riding forward.”
Even Jung had a sticky moment on course at the first water complex when he nearly came unseated. Jung was held before starting his course for almost 30 minutes when Italian Juan Carlos Garcia and Iman du Golfe fell at fence 20. Jung found it slow to start off after that wait.
“The start was not as good as I would have liked,” he said. “I had to wait a very long time on my horse, twice as long as I would be on him normally. The biggest problem was I didn’t know when I would start.
“The second thing was that there was a really brisk wind that came up. My horse was getting cool, and I wanted to keep him warm. But in the end, I really had enough time to prepare him and trot before the start. The first water came very quickly. I went in careful and then had a short distance to the first jump and the distance was very long to the second jump. In the end, we luckily came out very well,” he added.
Iman du Golfe had to be stabilized before being transported to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital, where it was determined that he had a small bone chip near his left elbow and a deep laceration requiring sutures. Garcia went to the hospital but is in good condition.
Simone Dietermann, the third-placed German individual after dressage with Free Easy FRW, had a fall at the last fence on course, the “Kentucky Proud” Harvest Corner. Italy’s Apollo Van De Wendi Kurt Hoeve and Stefano Brecciaroli, second after dressage, picked up 16 time penalties to drop down to 19th.
“It went very good,” Brecciaroli said. “I had to help the horse sometimes. I tried to ride—not do crazy speed maybe make a mistake. I feel a little let down for my time.”
The Swedish team, in third yesterday, only finished two pairs and is 11th now. Australia, Italy, Brazil and South Africa also failed to complete three riders.
There were no major accidents on course, despite the 17 eliminations and two retirements. Patricia Ryan of Ireland, on Fernhill Clover Mist, was stopped by officials when her horse bolted after fence 20.
If there was one fence that caused more problems than others it was the Walnut Hall Corner coffin complex where 17 pairs had at least one refusal. There was one rider fall and one horse fall at fence 8, the Welcoming Waters Wishing Well corner. Despite the difficulties, most of the riders coming home had praise for the course.
“It was a difficult course, but a very beautiful one, and a fair one for the horses. One difficult thing was that there were demanding jumps all over the course. Every jump asked a very big effort from your horse, from the first to the end,” said Jung.
Good For Some, Bad For Others
But what was an unfortunate day for some allowed others to move up. Cool Mountain and William Fox-Pitt moved up from 12th to second after a double-clear round, helping Great Britain take first place.
“All in all, I thought it was a decent championship track,” Fox-Pitt said. “No one would have guessed it would cause the problems it did. For it to cause enough trouble for me to move up from 12th to 2nd, I’m amazed. Quite a few horses were comfortably within the time. Michael made it look like a canter around the park, but you never know.”
Overall it was a good day for the U.S. team, with Phillip Dutton on Woodburn and Boyd Martin on Neville Bardos going double clear to stay on their dressage scores of 48.2 and 49.5, respectively.
“We needed that clear round,” Dutton said after his ride. “[Woodburn] is a phenomenal cross-country horse. Cross-country isn’t fun until it’s over, but with him you come as close as you can to enjoying a course like this all the way around.”
Karen O’Connor and Mandiba’s trip picked up only 0.8 time penalties.
“It was a pivotal moment for the team,” Karen said. “Talk is cheap, but you have to go out and do it and prove it. I don’t think I had a bad fence out there. I’m really excited about [Mandiba’s] future.”
The only U.S. rider with an unsatisfying day was Buck Davidson, who had a run-out with Ballynoe Castle RM at the jump into the Red River Gorge, fence 15, and also earned 26.0 time penalties.
“I’m disappointed, in a word, for myself, for my team,” Davidson said. “I needed to do something different, maybe I should have gone the long way the first time. He finished up better than he went out. I don’t really know why. I’m searching right now to find what I could have done differently.”
The Canadian team, coached by Karen’s husband David O’Connor, moved up from eighth to third after three team riders (Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch on Port Authority, Selena O’Hanlon on Colombo, and Hawley Bennett-Awad on Gin & Juice) went double clear. Rhodes-Bosch, 23, made easy work of the course and now sits sixth individually.
For full eventing results, visit the WEG website.