Germany’s Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH have been tipped as one of the favorites for individual gold in the lead-up to the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games, and they showed us exactly why on the first day of dressage here at Tryon.
EquiRatings confirmed their leading score of 19.9 is the third best we have ever seen at a World Championships, slotting in behind Bettina Hoy and Woodsides Ashby (13.9) and Pippa Funnell and Supreme Rock (19.1) at Jerez in 2002. It is also the third time they have scored in the 19 range this season, as we also saw spectacular tests when they won Bramham CCI3* and Aachen CICO3*.
Chipmunk FRH, a 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Contendro I x Havanna, by Heraldik I) owned by Dr. Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff, has been on flying form all year, but with today being his first time performing a CCI4* test, Julia said she wasn’t sure if a sub-20 score would be attainable.
“I’m quite relieved because obviously everybody knows that we can do a 19 in dressage. Nobody tells you they expect it, but secretly they joke about it, and you feel the pressure a little bit,” Julia said.
“It’s all about preparation, and with Chipmunk it’s about preparation until the last day because if he peaks too early then he’s good but not as good. I’m very happy that I obviously did the right thing in the last couple of days. He was so relaxed and calm and with me. I’ve had him since he was 4, so it’s a really nice feeling to feel that your horse is so with you and trusts you.”
At the conclusion of the first day of dressage, Julia and Chipmunk have a comfortable 7.2-penalty lead over second place, which is occupied by Boyd Martin and Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg for the home nation on 27.1.
Boyd entered the arena to huge cheers from the crowd just as Julia’s leading score was flashed on the scoreboard, and then the cheers continued as he circled the arena before starting his test. The spectators — the vast majority being Americans judging by their decibel level — were rooting for their home team, and rather than upsetting “Thomas,” the cheers actually seemed to pep him up.
“Your biggest fear is not giving your best in the moment, and Thomas was awesome out there,” Boyd said. “He can fall behind the leg a bit, so I quite enjoyed the cheers. I had to giggle to myself, which probably killed my nerves for a second. Then I sort of had to get tunnel vision, then the bell rang, and you have to do it movement by movement by movement and try not to think ahead of results or past blunders in the test.”
Thomas, an 11-year-old Trakehner gelding (Windfall X Thabana, by Buddenbrock) bred here in America by Tim Holekamp, absolutely rose to the occasion. His score of 27.1 is a career personal best for the horse across all international levels, and bests his CCI4* test at Kentucky by 4.1 marks.
“I’ve been dialed in for this (test) for a long time now, so we’ve gone through those movements for months and months with (my wife) Silva, (dressage coach) Scott Hassler and (U.S. chef d’equipe) Erik Duvander,” Boyd said. “This week I’ve fumbled every movement but also did it well a couple of times, so you just hope that in those seven minutes that you can execute every movement and get it right.”
Piggy French and Quarrycrest Echo, a 10-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding (Clover Echo X Royal China, by Cavalier Royale) owned by Jayne McGivern, scored 27.8 for third place to lead the way for the British team.
“He’s still not the most experienced and there’s still more to come from him, but he’s got an amazing brain, and so you can be quite brave and I always give it a good go,” Piggy said. “We had one mistake at the beginning where he cantered out of the first halt, which is really annoying. It’s quite nice to nail an entry and get the judges thinking it’s good. On the whole I’m delighted. I think he’s given it his all, and that’s all we can do.
At the conclusion of the first day of dressage, Germany leads the team competition on 50.1. Australia sits second on a team score of 58.4 with two pairs in the top 10 in Chris Burton and Kate Walls’s Cooley Lands (fourth on 28.6) and Andrew Hoy and Paula and David Evans’s Vassily de Lassos (ninth on 29.8). France sits third on 59.4.
Tina Cook and Billy The Red round out the top five as individuals for Great Britain on 29.1, a solid test after a bit of an up-and-down run of form in the first phase this season. (He even scored a 10 for one halt in the test!)
As to how the ground jury of Anne-Mette Binder (DEN), Jane Hamlin (USA) and Andrew Bennie (NZL) scored today, they were feeling more stingy in the morning session and marked an average of 1.06 penalties above the expected scores for the riders. They were more generous in the afternoon session, with riders scoring an average of 1.53 penalties below their expected scores.
We’ll be bringing you all the behind-the-scenes details for both the U.S. and Canadian teams here at WEG, plus our North American-based riders who hail from other countries. The U.S. team sits sixth after day one on 62.7, with Canada in 14th on 74.6.
Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus, an 11-year-old Anglo-Arabian gelding (Serazim X Wake Me Gently) owned by Jacqueline Mars, are representing the U.S. as individuals at WEG and scored 32.6 for 20th place.
“It’s easy to forget that he’s still pretty green and that he hasn’t been in a lot of atmosphere,” Lauren said. “He actually didn’t feel hot; he was just a bit of a pony. I think that it’s a long week of just sitting here, and I think that he’s just a bit fed up with it, but the quality of the work is still really good. (The judges) definitely still kept wanting to throw me scores.”
Hawley Bennett-Awad and The Jollybo Syndicate’s Jollybo are representing Canada as individuals and sit in 22nd on 32.7, a personal best score across all levels for the 14-year-old British-bred mare (Jumbo X Polly Coldunnell xx, by Danzig Connection xx).
“I was really proud of her,” Hawley said. “She handled the pressure like a champ, and she actually just got a little tired in that last canter. I think I was on her maybe five or 10 minutes too long, but I’m not used to riding in heat and humidity, so it’s hard to balance that. She did nothing wrong, so I’m thrilled.”
This is Hawley’s third WEG for Canada, and she gave all the credit to the team behind her for getting here to Tryon. (She also had a certain reporter a bit misty-eyed as she pointed to the blue ribbon she wears on her shadbelly in memory of Roger Haller — “He was really, really special to me and like a mentor.”)
“It’s just having the right people around you at the right time,” Hawley said. “I have an unbelievable family; my best friend is here; I don’t even like to say the word groom — she’s my helper; and (my coach) Buck (Davidson) is only a phone call away. He literally called me five minutes before (my test). That to me is more important than anything. If I can mentally get right then I’m going to be great.”
With Canada drawn as the first to go in the team competition, Colleen Loach and Peter Barry’s Qorry Blue d’Argouges had the honor of being the first pair down centerline this morning. The 14-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Mr. Blue X Hardie Du Bourg, by Count Ivor xx) scored 34.4 to sit in 25th place.
“He was awesome,” Colleen said. “I couldn’t have asked for more. Dressage isn’t his strongest phase for sure. Usually our weakness is flow and having all the movements flowing together in the test, and I think this was our best one yet.”
Will Coleman and The Conair Syndicate’s Tight Lines are the pathfinders for the U.S. team. “Phish,” an 11-year-old French-bred Thoroughbred gelding (Turgeon X Merindole, by Tel Quel), scored 35.6 for 28th place.
“No one is watching him trot around here and thinking he might be a dressage horse,” Will said. Given the atmosphere and how this would be his weakest phase by a long shot, he was good. He’s going to get better with time, but he’s still relatively green and needs to get stronger. He’s a Thoroughbred and he’s here really for Saturday and Sunday. He’s a good jumper. That’s where we’ll focus now.”
Lisa Marie Fergusson and Honor Me are making their championship debut for Canada and sit 39th on a score of 40.2. “Tali,” a 12-year-old Welsh Sport Horse gelding (Brynarian Brenin X Dream Contessa xx, by Royal Chocolate xx), was bred in Canada by Carol McDonald. Lisa bought Tali as a 4-year-old after owning his full brother, “who was one of the most incredible horses. I thought, I have to go get the next one!”
Dressage would not be Tali’s favorite phase — “if there was a sport with only cross country, that would be his sport” — but Lisa said she was happy with how hard he tried in his test. “He got a little tense but he started coming back to me,” she said. “He’s been a challenge. He teaches you a lot, like how to be patient, but it will come. He’s 12 this year and really just starting to come into his own.”
Daniela Mougel and Cecelia, a 15-year-old Thoroughbred mare (Connecticut X Penny Stock, by Spend A Buck) owned by Aurelio Quinzaños and Jorge Eduardo Mtz. Castrejon, sit 35th on 37.1, the best score ever recorded by a Mexican rider at a World Championships. (Be sure to follow EquiRatings on Twitter for more stats like that!)
Nilson Moreira da Silva and Magnum’s Martini, a 14-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Magnum X Momos Girl) owned by L & N Equestrian, are pathfinders for the Brazilian team and sit 41st on 41.4.
The action continues tomorrow with day two of dressage starting at 9 a.m. EST. Click here to view start times. Click here for details on how to watch live. Click here to catch up on all of EN’s coverage from Tryon so far and — y’all already know what I’m going to say next — stay tuned for the latest and greatest from WEG. Go Eventing.