The sun is finally shining at the end of the first day of dressage here at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, but the rain that fell for hours today only added to the growing mud problem we have here at Haras du Pin. The ground is incredibly saturated, and overnight leader William Fox-Pitt confirmed in his press conference comments what we’ve all been thinking: “It’s not going to be a dressage competition.”
Ingrid Klimke, who is sitting in third place overnight with the 10-year-old mare FRH Escada JS, said Pierre Michelet’s track — which you can check out here — is definitely “a true four-star course, but we didn’t expect anything else, so this is a world championship. It’s definitely a long course, and I hope the sun comes out more, that the ground will stay; otherwise, we will have to look at what we can cut down or out that the horses can have a good run.”
Michael Jung, in second place with 9-year-old fischerRocana FST, echoed the same sentiment, saying it’s a definite four-star course and “very long with a lot of hills. The jumps are very big fences, but the questions are very clear. There are a lot of questions directly in the beginning and at the end, so you really have to concentrate from beginning to end.”
Michael and Rocana, his reserve horse after withdrawing reigning World and Olympic champion La Biosthetique Sam FBW last week — held the lead at the lunch break, and he said he was very happy with her test. “fischerRocana is a very easy horse; she’s really relaxed and always concentrates to me, so it was today very easy to ride with her. She has not the best moves, but everything was correct.”
Ingrid and Escada struggled with some accuracy issues that ultimately hurt their score, but Ingrid said she was happy with the expression the mare showed today. “Today I thought that the trot felt very expressive and really showed her whole cadency and nice extensions. The canter work I could really engage her again to go forward, especially at the extended canter.”
But no one could best William and Chilli Morning, who is always a star in this phase. “He’s great at dressage; he’s got a huge presence, and I know he’s very able to do a good test, so it’s always a relief when you manage to do well.” He noted he’s often sitting second to Michael and Ingrid in press conferences, but at least for today, he can enjoy the first chair.
Click below to watch a full video of the press conference, and stay tuned for much more from Normandy, or #WoodstockWEG as we’re affectionately calling this three-ring circus. More on that here. And be sure to check out all the must-read links from today below the video.
#WEG2014 must-reads from today:
#WEG2014: Website, Live Scores,Dressage Ride Times, Schedule & Results, EN’s Coverage, EN’s Guide to Eventing, FEI TV, FEI TV’s YouTube, WEG Facebook, EN’s Instagram, Fantasy Eventing, @eventingnation