Nobody in the first session after lunch troubled the top of the leader board, although Jodie Amos and Wisecrack scored 43.9 to slot into 8th place at that point. The last before the tea break was Emily Lochore and Hexmaleys Hayday, who was the horse we were all asked – in a pretty unprecedented move – to be silent for at the trot up yesterday, as he is very sensitive to noise.
Our spy in the collecting ring said that he was very tense and showing off his best airs above the ground before his test, but Emily had him pretty settled once they came into the main arena. He is a naturally uphill horse with great natural cadence and could be a great mover if he’d just relax and let her ride him more, and stop arguing about the contact. Emily did a fantastic job keeping him that calm for a 54.2. He is a serious horse so it is obvious why she perseveres with one who looks so tricky!
After the break, Charlotte Agnew’s Out of Africa Two showed that his tongue-waggling-to-the-right shenanigans in the trot up were unfortunately not a one-off, spoiling what could have been a very nice test. Their 53.6 put them into 21st place at that point.
Georgie Strang had the impressive Cooley Business Time going beautifully, but their test was marred by little mistakes creeping in. Without those they could have easily troubled the top of the leader board. Their final score of 55.3 put them in 26th place at that point.
Niklas Bschorer for Germany with Tom Tom Go 3 was another continental rider rocking the ‘rein stops on rein for dressage’ look… perhaps that’s their subtle way of showing their compatriots back in Germany that they are in fact a brave Vielseitigkeit rider and not just some posey Dressur rider?!
The test was secure in balance and rhythm, very harmonious, just the last flying change being a few strides late. The marking seemed a bit random, the judge at C marking 2 marks below the others for some of the early movements, and then above them later, but that might have been a glitchy scoreboard as it all evened out in the end, when the original score was corrected. They scored a very creditable 39.2 to go into 3rd place overnight, just edging Ros Canter into 4th.
Last of the day, Emily Llewellyn and Greenlawn Sky High presented a very elegant picture, with the horse in great balance. But he fell behind the leg, and then the wheels fell off a bit when it came to the pressure of the flying changes, with some tension creeping in, dropping their marks down to 53.1.
So Michael Jung maintained his secure hold on the top of the Leaderboard, 3.6 penalties ahead of his nearest rival, Andrew Hoy and Rutherglen in 2nd. Niklas Bschorer flew the flag again for Germany in 3rd, and Ros Canter is best of the Brits at this point in 4th. Then there is a trio of Aussies, with Chris Burton Sam Griffiths and Paul Tapner, and 3 Brits to fill the rest of the top 10 places at this stage, Pippa Funnell, Jodie Amos and Georgie Spence.
The overnight leaders had the following to say at the Press Conference:
Niklas Bschorer is the youngest rider in the competition. He said that he is very pleased with how the horse went. That the XC Course is “very big”, there is “plenty to jump out there, it is very interesting, there are quite a few options, and he is looking forward to Saturday.”
Andrew Hoy was asked about the difference in the sport since he last won here in 2004. He replied that in fact he remembers being here in 1979, when he was the same age as Niklas and he won, so that’s a good omen for Niklas! He said that “the quality of the Dressage has improved enormously, the test I rode is a long way ahead of what I did in ’04”. Also that “working with Fairfax has helped with all the horses, especially in the Dressage”. He has regular help from Gareth Hughes, and a great support team.
Michael Jung said that that was “nearly the best test we could do on grass, the mare was very relaxed and concentrating, very focussed and good to ride”. She has “not so much experience doing Dressage on grass, but usually goes XC on grass” and that “normally the grass is not as good as today.”
Regarding the XC Course, he said that “It is a really tough 4* course, but very nice. There are options, and which people do will depend on horse and rider experience”. He said that it is “big, but with friendly fences. We will have a lot of fun and I am looking forward to it”.
A great and very positive note to finish on!