Today saw the conclusion of the dressage phase at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships in Blair, Scotland. The Great British team currently lies in second place overnight, with Holly Woodhead occupying second place in the individual standings heading into tomorrow’s Cross-Country phase (10-13 September 2015).
The first rider into the arena on the second day of dressage was Izzy Taylor with Mr Guy Avis’s KBIS Briarlands Matilda, who got things underway for Great Britain. Producing an accurate test aboard the fifteen year old mare, the duo saw a score of 44 penalties awarded.
Commenting afterwards, Izzy said; “I was pleased with her I would have hoped to get a better mark but she was very good so I’m really pleased with her. Going first in is not ideal but you’re here you’ve got get on with it and do the best you can. I hoped for better than that [dressage score] she’s capable of better.”
Straight after Izzy it was Oliver Townend’s turn to kick off his European campaign. Aboard Fenyas Elegance, owned by PJ Hegarty, a ride he’s only partnered for seven months, Oliver produced a lovely test as what is only their fifth competitive outing to be rewarded with a score of 38.70 penalties.
“It’s the first time in her life she’s been in the 30’s, so couldn’t be more happy,” said Oliver, “It was good, she’s a new ride, it’s been written that she couldn’t handle the pressure and she’s gone in there and gone very well, I couldn’t be more pleased with her performance, she’s done a very, very nice job – she’s scored a Personal Best and there’s still room for improvement."
Pippa Funnell and Sandman 7, owned by Mrs Jennifer A Nolan, Miss Ruth McMullen and Pippa, were next to step into the spotlight for the GB camp - the third member of the four-man team. Riding to the backing of The Chordettes ‘Mr Sandman’, the duo produced a lovely test, showing some real highlights but some expensive mistakes, including breaking into canter in the trot work and an unrequired flying change on the final centre line, saw them finish on 41.3 penalties.
“He was a little nervous, it’s the first time he’s seen anything like that. I could feel the nerves outside but he was trying really hard, he’s a young horse and he was just taking it all in. For where he is in his career I am delighted because it just shows what a horse he his.
Pippa continued; “It’s always a huge honour and such a thrill to be back on the team with William and Nicola, and Kitty’s been going so well. I possibly was a little surprised because of his experience but he's had great results this year. What’s so exciting is the strength in depth we’ve got, the twelve riders that are here every one’s got a chance of going for a medal, and I think Holly just shows that. Full credit to Tracie [Robinson] and the World Class team, they’ve helped every bit of this.”
The afternoon session saw Wills Oakden make his senior team debut with Greystone Midnight Melody, owned by Mr David Kenwright and Sylvia Douglas. With the crowd behind him and Molly all the way, the duo produced a lovely test to post 46.40 penalties.
Wills commented; “It’s been exciting, it’s been a whirlwind being a late substitution but it’s all been good fun. I’ve loved walking the course, loved being here just soaking up the atmosphere. She got a little bit tense going in, but I think with that atmosphere she’s bound to. It’s the first time in an arena of that calibre, I couldn’t have asked for anymore.”
On what it means to compete in front of a home crowd; “It’s very exciting have all the home support; it’s given us a real boost and just looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Next up and also making his debut for Great Britain on a senior squad was Francis Whittington partnering Mrs Catherine Witt’s Easy Target. Aboard the striking grey gelding, the talented duo produced a stunning test, much to the delight of the home crowd, to finish on 37.50 penalties.
“I’m over the moon with Smokey this week, he’s been working in really nicely, then to go in there and do a test that I can be really proud of I’m very happy,” said a delighted Francis. “For myself and Smokey’s owner Catherine Witt, we’re thrilled – so very happy; twenty years in the waiting but very happy. Seeing the girls go out yesterday, and perform such amazing tests, they truly did some fantastic tests, I thought I better start concentrating and try quite hard!”
The final rider and team member of the day for Great Britain, was William Fox-Pitt with Bay My Hero. William produced a strong solid test with Mrs Catherine Witt’s twelve year old bay gelding to see a penalty score of 43.00 awarded.
Part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded #EveryRoadtoRio series, supporting British athletes’ preparation and qualification for Rio 2016, this summer’s event is the last major Championship before the Olympic Games, where GBR will be represented having already qualified a team spot after the World Equestrian Games last year.
All six British athletes competing today are members of the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme. Equestrian Team GBR is supported by the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Programme; the British teams are very grateful to the support they receive from official Team GBR suppliers Dodson & Horrell, Equi-Trek, Equiline, Land Rover, NAF, NuuMed, Point Two Equine, Tagg Equestrian and Toggi.