Another night of records being broken and another outstanding performance by Laura to land Britain’s first ever individual Silver medal in Dressage at a World Equestrian Games. Moorlands Totilas was back to his renown brilliance but Laura and Mistral Horjis thoroughly deserved the Silver and to the delight of the home crowd, Steffen Peters USA) clinched the Bronze. GBR Dressage “en masse” headed in to Lexington last night for a celebration dinner; a celebration richly deserved for it is “job well done” so far in WEG Dressage land.
How depressing it was to discover that the article in the Telegraph this morning was negative about WEG and failed to mention Laura’s superb individual Silver. Everyone out here is quite amazed that a newspaper of the Telegraph’s reputation decided to “go negative” at such a historic time in the progress of elite dressage in Great Britain. Yes, there were areas that were not ready when we arrived at WEG but is now the time to write about such matters when GBR athletes are winning medals? This venue is truly world class and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are going to be memorable for all the right reasons; for great sport, the best horses in the world and talented and dedicated athletes. Perhaps journalists should visit the Games before knocking them? It has always been a concern of mine that the GBR Press could give us “home disadvantage” in 2012 through negative reporting and over hyping up GBR athletes’ medal hopes – my experiences of the last 24 hours do nothing to douse those fears.
Meanwhile normal service has been resumed with flights and arrivals. The Para-Equestrian Dressage team and the Jumping team arrived yesterday afternoon (on different flight due to the Jumping team missing their connections). All eventually arrived at the Holiday Inn..their luggage is scattered across the USA at the moment and there was a crocodile trail of athletes and staff heading towards Walmart to purchase the essential anti smell items. A little serious as some of the Para-Equestrian Dressage athletes have medications that they need.
So, the arrivals process has nearly finished and we enter perhaps the busiest time of the Games. Eventing starts today and it is also the Individual Final for Reining. Lee and Doug will be competing in the Reining at the same time as William Fox Pitt will be performing his Dressage test; now, all know that William is a truly outstanding and talented rider but he has, occasionally been known to falter on his personal administration – I just hope he gets the right arena today as I am not sure that cantering on to a Reining field of play in Top Hat & Tails will earn him a medal winning score.
I find this stage in the Eventing competition very nerve racking; there almost seems, from some quarters, to be a feeling that it is a given that the Team will medal; this is accompanied by semi camouflaged comments that if they do not then it is a calamity and the end of the world is nigh. Watching the eventing horses from all nations train and watching the first morning of dressage tests, this is going to be a very close competition and there are maybe 7 or 8 teams that have a realistic chance of grabbing a team medal. Germany has started very strongly but the antipodeans certainly appear to be back to full fighting form. Nicola Wilson led out the British with a 51.2; save for a couple of small errors, Nicola would have broken in to the 40s for the first time – Nicola’s role is take the cross country by the scruff of the neck and give it a damn good shaking so that it cowers in the corner and shouts Rule Britannia; a role that she has performed in the past with great aplomb and as always, with a smile on her face.
If nothing else the GBR team looks the part; bedecked in Toggi clothing (riders), Thermatex rugs (horses) and Nuumed numnahs the livery of British blue looks very smart. As a rather famous General once pointed out; the better you dress your soldiers the better they feel of themselves. The GBR soldiers out here are doing battle rather well at the moment – long may it last.