We were only part of the way through the morning’s final horse inspection at Boekelo when the screaming started.
Just kidding. Sort of. This year’s new trot-up location is great in some ways: unlike previous years, which have seen the inspections take place on the sandy footing of the arena, we’re now blessed with a proper hard-standing trot strip, which allows for a more exacting view of equine movement — but the other side of that coin is that in order to get that hard-standing area, we’ve moved the trot-up to the back side of a school. And yes, it’s Sunday, but yes, those tiny little Dutch chaos agents came out in full force, ready to wreak havoc and eat poffertjes, probably.
No bother, though, for the horses and riders who successfully navigated yesterday’s tough cross-country track, because in doing so, they got a PhD in dealing with chaos agents. Yesterday, it was 60,000 happy, loud, drunk adults, so who’s going to be scared, really, of a large group of prepubescents on a sugar high? Well, me, maybe, but fortunately they don’t make me do any running on a Sunday morning at these things. Thank the lord for small mercies and all that.
Our field of 84 finishers has diminished slightly going into today’s showjumping finale, which will begin at 11.30 a.m. (10.30 a.m. BST/5.30 a.m. EST) with a big batch of individual riders to jump first. In theory, the jumping today will be kind of in reverse order of merit, though it’s fairly jumbled in order to allow for a proper team showdown in the second part of the day, which will begin at 14.30 (13.30 BST/7.30 a.m. EST). Once we get into our top ten riders, though, at the very end of the day, then we’ll see a proper reverse order of merit showdown. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the gentle air of confusion — and for now, let’s take a look at what happened this morning.
Three horses were withdrawn before the final horse inspection: the Netherlands’ Beau Posthumus opted not to present Smokie, 42nd overnight after a clear round yesterday; Germany’s young talent Brandon Schäfer-Gehrau also withdrew Fräulein Frieda 10, who sat 80th, and Ireland’s Robbie Kearns didn’t present Avery Klunick’s Pisco Sour, who was 49th.
There was some drama for those who did present, too. Overnight fourth-placed Felix Etzel and TSF Polartanz once again found themselves in the holding box, as they had at Wednesday’s first horse inspection, but were happily accepted upon representation, as was the Netherlands’ Maartje Van Riel and Eppo, who sit 65th overnight and seventh in the Dutch National Championship. But fortunes were fewer for France’s Cedric Lyard and Song du Magay, who were not accepted to continue the competition after some discussion by the ground jury of Judy Hancock, Xavier Le Sauce, and Merel Schurink.
Now, we have 80 left in the hunt, and a serious battle to come: France sit in first in the team competition, 9.4 penalties, or two rails plus three seconds, in hand over the Brits in second place, while series leaders Belgium are three rails and change off that top spot. The Netherlands sit fourth, and the US fifth, as we head into the final phase. And in the individual competition, the margins are even tighter: overnight leaders Nicolas Touzaint and Diabolo Menthe are on a two-phase score of 25.4, which gives them just two seconds in hand over Belgium’s Lara de Liedekerke-Meier and Ducati d’Arville. Laura Collett and Dacapo sit just 0.3 behind Lara, which isn’t even a second in hand, and Felix Etzel and TSF Polartanz are on an overnight score of 28.4, which is 1.5 penalties — or three seconds and change — behind Laura. In overnight fifth place, Ros Canter and MHS Seventeen are just two-tenths of a penalty behind Felix, and one rail covers the top six places. The showjumping course looks technical and tough, and the time in this phase tends to be influential here, so it’ll be a thrilling finale to one of the best competitions of the year. Make sure you don’t miss out: all the action is free to live-stream via the FEI TV YouTube channel, or via ClipMyHorse for members.
Here’s a look at our top ten after cross-country:
We’ll be back with full coverage of today’s action later this afternoon. Until then: Go Eventing!
EN’s coverage of Boekelo is presented by Kentucky Performance Products.