Mud, mud and more mud — that about sums up how the day went at Boekelo. Rain fell all night, and I knew when I walked by the main stadium and spotted standing water that it wasn’t going to be pretty. Course designer Sue Benson said in the press conference that she thought the footing was quite good considering how much rain we’ve had since Thursday, and I’m not sure if she was trying to be funny or optimistic. To put it simply, it was muddy in some spots and soup in others, and the terrible footing absolutely decimated the field. Thirty-three pairs either retired on course or were eliminated; that’s one-third of the 100 total starters.
Just four pairs made the time: Michael Jung and fischerRocana FST; Ingrid Klimke and Hale Bob 3; Elmo Jankari and Duchess Desiree; and Izzy Taylor and KBIS Starlet, who moved all the way from 70th to 19th place on the merits of that performance. Overnight leaders Niklas Lindbäck and Cendrillon had one of the scariest falls of the day when the mare left both legs at 16b, falling and pinning Niklas’s leg. That’s just one example of the carnage we saw today. There were six total horse falls and an additional six rider falls, and nine riders retired on course. Looking at the cross-country fence analysis, there really wasn’t any one tricky spot on course, and the problems were spread throughout.
Lizzie Brown and Henton Attorney General jumped clear and came home with just 2.4 time penalties to lead overnight. Michael Jung and the lovely fischerRocana FST moved up from sixth to second place thanks to their double clear trip, and fellow teammate Ingrid Klimke and Hale Bob 3 moved up from ninth to third with their double clear. Elmo Jankari and Duchess Desiree jumped from 12th to fourth place with one of the other double clear rounds, and Mathieu Lemoine and Quickness had just 0.4 time penalties to move from 13th to fifth place. Alice Naber-Lozeman and Peter Parker also deserve a shout out for their very fast trip, and she’s on track to clinch her third Dutch champion title tomorrow.
Looking at the Grolsch Nations Cup standings, Germany still holds the lead by a mile, as they added only 1.2 penalties to their team score today. Let me say that again: The Germans added ONLY 1.2 penalties today, which is just maddening. They’re now on a team score of 124.6. Great Britain still holds second place, but they’ve dropped way back on a score of 155, meaning the Germans have all but clinched their zillionth consecutive Nations Cup title. France moved up one spot in the standings to sit in third place on a team score of 210.8, but Ireland is close behind in fourth place on a score of 213.
If you didn’t follow along with my posts earlier today about how Team USA fared — click here for Liz, here for Lauren and here for Boyd — here’s a quick recap: Liz Halliday and Fernhill By Night were first out for Team USA, and they looked fantastic until fence 21c when Blackie bailed out at the last minute; they picked up 20 penalties there. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica also looked brilliant until that same combination, when Veronica glanced off 21a and Lauren fell. Thankfully, she’s OK. Boyd Martin and Trading Aces slipped and slid through the course as the second to last out, delivering a clear round but with lots of time.
If successful team trips to Europe grew on trees, David O’Connor would be quite the gardener by now. But the fact of the matter is that there’s no magic formula to guarantee success across the pond. We just have to keep fighting. And on a happier note, I’m thrilled to report that super groom Lindsey Taylor was discharged from the hospital earlier today. She made it to Boekelo in time to watch Boyd and Oscar romp around the course, and she was in good spirits when I chatted with her this afternoon. We’re wishing her all the best for a full and speedy recovery. Go Boekelo.