We’ve seen all 83 pairs in the dressage here at the World Equestrian Games, and all I can say is where’s the cross country? Only kidding. We saw some really good work over the last two days. Riders were dropping personal bests left and right. There were tears of joy (or was that sweat?), and we’ve got a very tight leaderboard going into cross country. We chat with a few eventers for their thoughts on the dressage, on the course and on the humidity:
Julia Krajewski (GER) and Chipmunk FRH (1st—19.9)
On a sub-20 test: “He’s done 19-something twice before, so I felt a bit of pressure to produce it again. They joke about it, ‘do a 19 again,’ but I think secretly they mean it. It’s all about preparation, and certainly I can’t just pull him out of the stable and push a button and do a 19. Chipmunk felt really relaxed and I could ride for all the points — calm and collected like a professional, even if he’s only 10 years old. After a few movements I felt like, yes it could be good, but you never know how the judges see it. When I finished the audience went crazy, so I thought it could be a good score.
On the cross country course: “Probably the second water because we’ve got all five options and it goes from a A to G, which I’ve never before. They’re quite a few possibilities. You have to think what to do when something happens just to be prepared. Then probably 9AB. The skinny one down the hill is a proper question, and then another is the corners at 14. [There are] quite a few fences where you have to have your line right and be very concentrated. There are many with several options. We hopefully did a good job to find the best way for every horse on the team.”
On the heat during tomorrow’s cross country: “We had a really hot summer in Germany. It was over 30 degrees (86 fahrenheit) for more than 5 weeks, which I think helps at least, but the horses aren’t used to the humidity. This morning I had a cross country school and last Sunday we did a gallop where he felt really good. The rest is up to the rider and your feeling during the course. If you feel them tiring you have to slow down and do the pace they need. We are prepared to go fast, and we are prepared to slow down a little if necessary.”
Ingrid Klimke (GER) and SAP Hale Bob OLD (2nd—23.3):
On her test: “I was very pleased because he was so relaxed and so smooth, and I could really ride everything the way I wanted. He came in and right away at the start, so I was first a little worried, like why don’t they go ahead and ring the bell now because we are ready? But as soon as he entered the ring it was as if he knows his program, was listening, waiting. There was nothing he could do better.”
On the cross country: “I think there are some possibilities where it would be easier to run out, so the rides have to be really focused, but lucky fences and a wonderful course. I’m really happy it stays to the end (stays a full 10 minute course) because then we have the hill, and on top of the hill two more minutes, so it is a true course and that’s why we are here.”
Ros Canter (GBR) and Allstar B (3rd—24.6):
On her test: “I am absolutely over the moon with him. The last three or four years he has been ultra-consistent in this phase. He is just so amazing. No matter what the atmosphere, he never changes. I gave him a day off yesterday because he worked so well the day before. He has just got that temperament where he puts 100% in for me every time, and it’s more the pressure for me that I want to do him proud and everyone else who has helped get me here.”
On the course: “It looks a good course. The challenge is going to be the humidity and the potential weather conditions. As last team member to go, I don’t know what weather will be thrown at us yet. I will try to stick to the plan and hope I can deliver for the team. I know Team Great Britain is pleased that the longer course is still in place. Our selections were based a long that, and we’ve got the horses fit and ready to run, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Phillip Dutton (USA) and Z (12th—27.6):
“He is such an improving horse. He loves to work and loves to train, and I couldn’t be more pleased with him,” he said. “We have trained for it (cross-country to be full distance, and the teams were picked for that. I think it is the right decision.”
Stefano Brecciaroli (ITA) and Byrnesgrove First Diamond (18th—28.4)
On his test: “I’m very pleased, it was the first time with the horse at this level. Today it felt good, there was one mistake and it was my mistake on the flying change, it was a little too late in asking the horse, so one mistake but the rest was very good. The horse tried very hard and it was a good result. We’ve had almost six months together and I think it is a good start.
On his coach, Andrew Nicholson: “I am very lucky to have a man behind me like Andrew. You know Andrew, he is sure about all so I listen to him and do the job. Andrew is a very good man and I’m pleased to have him here with me.”
Tim Price (NZL) and Cekatinka (11th—27.2)
“It’s very tight around that 27 number, it seems to be the magic number. She is a hot little mare lacking a little bit of experience in particular in an occasion like this. As you get closer to your dressage test, all you want is to just go in and be normal, not go in and change and for the most part she was really good in that way- she stayed focused and worked away. We had a bit of irritation in the middle of the test, I don’t know if a fly got on her or something so that was a bit of a shame but she came back to me and we got on with the job and she was really good.
“The cross country is demanding, none of us know what the time is going to be like because with a difficult time it heightens the difficulty everywhere else because everyone else is trying to go and do a good speed but it’s tomorrow and I’ve only just got this job done so now I can take it a little bit more seriously. It will be what it will be, we are pretty gutsy, the Kiwi’s and hopefully we’ll make a good plan together and go and execute.”
Andreas Dibowski (GER) and FRH Corrida (33rd—30.3)
“She was okay. She is a very young horse, so it was not a perfect test, but everything what I wanted to do worked good.
“I have walked the cross-country course twice. There are a lot of fences and we have a lot of possibilities, so we will make a plan A, B and maybe C. It depends on how much rain is coming. Nobody knows at the moment.”
Lynn Symansky (USA) and Donner (17th—28.3)
“I am so happy with my horse. He is an American-bred thoroughbred, and he tries his heart out. He was so good in there and I could not be happier. To be riding here on home soil, it is so awesome to be cheered by a home crowd. It gets us all amped up just that bit more, especially for cross-country day.
“It looks a good course. This horse is born for a track like this, so I am hoping it ends up being as tough as it possibly can be tomorrow.”
Tom McEwen (GBR) and Toledo de Kerser (19th—28.3)
“I am really pleased with the test. It was a shame about the last change with one too many strides, but he was awesome.We have a strong team score, which is the main thing.
“I don’t think the cross-country course should be underestimated. It is possibly not the biggest course we’ve jumped, but saying that, it is technical, it is strong and you have got to keep your wits about you. There are plenty of strong questions out there, so a lot to get on and ride.”
Sandra Auffarth (GER) and Viamant du Matz (35th—30.6)
“I’m really happy with my horse. He’s really young, I have been riding him since he was four, so for the last five years and he has had great development over the last three or four months, he’s learning every week and I’m really happy. It was not the plan that I ride him here, my plan was of course to ride Opgun Louvo so I’m really happy with him.
“I think the cross country course is good for him, he gave me a really good feeling in the last competitions so I’m looking forward to it.”