Mary King rode a superb, bold test with the switched on Imperial Cavalier, scoring 9’s for the highlights to go into second place individually behind Germany’s Dirk Schrade on 40.9 pen at the end of day one, their best score at 4* level. On entering the arena Mary held her fingers to her lips to signal quiet to the crowds who responded with uncharacteristic quiet; you could have heard a pin drop in the main arena.
Afterwards the stadium erupted for both British riders and both were visibly touched by the experience.
Mary commented; “It was absolutely fantastic, I’m not usually tearful but coming in here with all the home crowd is emotional. I knew if they cheered that Imperial Cavalier would have exploded and we would have found it hard to ride a test after that, so although they were all behind me they were very well behaved.”
“People know he is a horse with tremendous enthusiasm and energy and I need all the help I can get from the crowds. He made a couple of errors when the tension got to him a little especially the last flying change but I was really pleased with his shoulder in, medium trot and half passes. This was close to his best score at this level and to do it in this atmosphere is amazing. I’m chuffed to bits.”
“He’s a very talented horse, beautiful looking, which helps a lot. The crowds seem to love him and so do I!”
Nicola Wilson, who was first to ride out first for the Brits on day one of the eventing dressage - filling her traditional pathfinder role, produced a smooth, accurate test without mistakes to finish on a score of 51.70. The crowd whooped and cheered when Nicola entered the arena and the pair stayed remarkably cool despite the rowdy reception.
Commenting on her test Nicola said; "It was quite emotional entering the main arena; it’s a fantastic setting, not that I had time to look at the view! So many cheers went up from the crowd and so I raised one hand to wave at the crowd to let Dodi [Opposition Buzz] know it was OK rather than let him get tense. It seemed to work as he stayed with me and really tried.
"We produced the best test we could have done; I’m very very proud and pleased with him. We’ve been very fortunate to have support through UK Sport Lottery Funding to improve what would be his weakest phase and it’s really paid off. I’m delighted with how he tried for me today.”
“I’m very very excited about the cross country; Dodi is a super horse to ride in this phase and it’s an amazing course, so different and that really makes it special. It’s beautifully presented and extremely twisty and hilly, the time looks like it will be tight to get. It’s definitely an Olympic course!”
Commenting on the cross country phase to come Mary said; “It’s fantastically built with wonderful ground. It’s going to be a great challenge of horsemanship; a test of speed and agility. The fences aren’t hugely built but the time will be difficult – the speed will make the mistakes.”