Jock Paget Stages His Comeback, Hawley Bennett and Gin & Juice Shine at WEG

Jock Paget and Clifton Promise. Photo by Jenni Autry. Jock Paget and Clifton Promise. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jock Paget has just made a major statement here at Haras du Pin, scoring 38.0 for second place with Clifton Promise in their first four-star performance since being cleared of doping charges. It all started in the first medium trot, when Promise’s elasticity blew the crowd away; you could audibly hear the spectators say “wow.”

Then by the medium walk about halfway through the test, Jock was visibly smiling, and he gave Promise a pat on his left shoulder after the final flying change — truly a super performance in what could be a major comeback for Jock here this weekend. With cross-country day shaping up to be a major determining factor, we’d definitely want to be sitting on a sporty Thoroughbred like Promise right now.

After his test, Jock described Pierre Michelet’s course as technical and forward: “My first impression is that it’s a good track. It’s going to take a very definite ride all the way around, but if you ride it the way Pierre is asking you to ride it, it’s going to help you make the time.”

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lynn Symansky and Donner. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Lynn Symansky has the Thoroughbred advantage too aboard the athletic Donner, who was very impressed by the atmosphere at Haras du Pin during his dressage test this morning. She gave him a very smart ride to keep the lid on for a score of 53.0, and she said after the test that she very pleased with his effort.

“He tried really hard, and I couldn’t go for the quality today as I had been able to at Great Meadows, where he was a little more rideable, but he still kept it together, so I have to be happy with that,” Lynn said in our interview, which you can watch here. We have sunshine today at Haras du Pin, which is helping to dry the very soggy ground for cross country.

“It all looks doable,” Lynn said. “I go a little later in the run, so we’ll have to see how the footing holds up. That’s going to be the biggest question. He’s a great galloping horse; the hills and the terrain in the end don’t bother me — knock on wood — as it would if I was on a different horse.”

Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Be sure to watch the full interview here, as Lynn also talks about what it’s like to ride on this very supportive group of Team USA riders. The whole crew was out cheering on Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless this morning, and little Sparky tried his heart out for a score of 50.8 — oh so close to cracking the 40s.

Kim said after the test that Sparky got a little tense, but she is thrilled with how far he’s come to get to this point. And let’s not forget that this horse eats cross country for breakfast, so he’ll be in his element tomorrow. Sparky is always full of running out of the start box, Kim said, so she’ll be managing his energy carefully to get around the long track.

Another horse with seemingly endless energy, Gin & Juice contained her inner dragon today for her personal best score of 47.8. Hawley Bennett-Awad was over the moon after the test, and Leslie caught up with Canada’s current leading rider for a really fun interview, which you can watch here. We’re thrilled for Team Canada and are letting our #camericanpride flag fly!

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Hawley Bennett-Awad and Gin & Juice. Photo by Jenni Autry.

We still have two more North Americans to go today, with Boyd Martin and Shamwari 4 going at 3:12 p.m. local time, and Selena O’Hanlon and Foxwood High set to do battle in the little white box at 4:16 p.m. local time. Joanie Morris said after Lynn’s test that Team USA is very happy with how things are going so far, and there will be much fanfare tonight if Boyd and Shamwari pull out the very good score we know they can produce.

After the morning’s rides, New Zealand has moved into gold medal position on 80.0, followed by Germany in silver on 81.9 and Great Britain in Bronze on 87.5. Team USA is in fourth with 92.5, with Canada in seventh on 98.0. Of course, all that can change drastically this afternoon with a lot of the heavy hitters still to come.

Aside from Jock and Promise, just two combinations have cracked the top 10 today, with New Zealand’s Lucy Jackson and Willy Do scoring 43.8 in a lovely performance to sit in equal seventh place with Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces, and Brazil’s Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too scoring a personal best of 44.2 for ninth place. Ruy was very emotional after the test, and Leslie caught up with him for a great interview. Check back for that soon!

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