Friday afternoon at Blair Castle was where all the drama happened. With Great Britain filling five of the top ten spots, mood in the camp should have been jubilant. But a lacklustre test from William Fox Pitt and Bay My Hero in the anchorman position left him trailing the field in 23rd on a score of 43. As he exited the arena, as soon as the steward’s inspection of the horse was completed, he was back on Catherine Witt’s 12 year old bay gelding and trotting it in front of the team vet. Bay My Hero’s trot work in particular looked suspect, though the canter work showed some improvement. However the 6, 6, 7 from the ground jury for his paces reflected the fact that for at least part of the test he didn’t look 100%.
Individual riders for Great Britain Wills Oakden (Greystone Midnight Melody) and Francis Whittington (Easy Target) kept the flag flying high for the host nation with excellent scores. Francis rode an intelligent test – having previously been penalised for the length of Easy Target’s neck he made sure to push his hands forwards as he passed the judges box to show that he wasn’t holding the horse in. He said afterwards that “his neck really won’t go much longer, that’s just where he likes to hold himself.” The pair finished on 37.5 to go into seventh ahead of the cross country tomorrow.
Ingrid Klimke for Germany was thrilled with her mount Horseware Hale Bob, whom she described as “a hunting horse.” She said he’d been very excited out in the warmup when it got windy and he heard the clapping, thinking it might be time for cross country. He held it together and was soft and rideable in the test, making it great fun.” Because he’s a horse with a lot of thoroughbred, he doesn’t have the flashy paces of a dressage horse, so he has to be really correct in his movements to pick up every mark. However, she thinks a lot of blood will be essential for the cross country tomorrow.
As the final rider for Sweden, Niklas Lindbäck, came in on Cendrillon, we thought we were about to see the new dressage leader. Some seriously impressive trot work garnered him a host of 8s and 9s, and the score was trending at over 80%. Some tension in the walk work saw the pair’s marks drop, and the canter work lacked the expression and cadence of the trot. They completed on 38.10 to end the day in tenth place.
The German team now sit in both team and individual gold medal position, and it was interesting to hear their outlook on the cross country. They are clearly a very tough team mentally, and whilst they are taking nothing for granted, with all the riders reiterating that you need to concentrate round the whole course, they are also all very positive and keen to talk about how much they are looking forwards to the cross country. Chef d’Equipe Hans Melzer stated that sometimes pressure can be good, and that the team has learnt a lot from 2009 when they had a disaster!
Great Britain remain in silver with a team score of 112.5, just 9.8 penalties behind the Germans on 102.7. France are in bronze on 115.2, with Sweden in fourth (119.4) and Italy in fifth (140.9). The team results can be seen here, and the individual results here. The top ten individual riders at the end of the dressage phase are listed below, with * denoting team members.
- Sandra Auffarth (Germany*) Opgun Louvo – 31.4
- Holly Woodhead (Great Britain) DHI Lupison – 31.7
- Michael Jung (Germany*) fischerTakinou – 33.5
- Nicola Wilson (Great Britain*) One Two Many – 34.6
- Thibault Vallette (France*) Qing du Briot – 36.8
- Kitty King (Great Britain*) Persimmon – 36.9
- Francis Whittington (Great Britain) Easy Target – 37.5
- Ingrid Klimke (Germany*) Horseware Hale Bob – 37.8
- Laura Collett (Great Britain) Grand Manoeuvre – 37.8
- Niklas Lindbäck (Sweden*) Cendrillon – 38.1
Our coverage from the Longines FEI European Eventing Championship is brought to you by Sportzvibe massage rugs from Horseware. Read our reviews of the Sportzvibe Horse Rug here and the Dog Rug here and here.