More action from GBR athletes out at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games as day two of the competition gets underway for jumping and vaulting.
It was a somewhat disappointing day for Great Britain in the jumping arena as the team went out in the first round of the team competition, after finishing in eighteenth place in the standings. With only the top ten teams heading through to day two of the team jumping competition, Rio qualification from this event was out of reach but it was great to see new combinations producing impressive rounds at their first championships.
First into the Caen stadium was Michael Whitaker with Melissa Braybrooke’s Viking. With a round showcasing some lovely jumping a toe to fence 3 and again at fence 7 and 11 saw 12 faults added to Michael’s score, giving him a total 16.05 penalties.
A disappointed Michael said; “He was basically jumping well, he was a bit spooky - I don’t think the horse falling when I went in the ring helped [Belgium’s Pieter Devos, Dream of India Greenfield], he felt a bit nervous and a bit tense but he was basically jumping well. These things happen, they’re not machines and luckily they don’t happen too often.
“He warmed-up very good, and he felt very good in the ring, the fences he jumped he felt very good, like I say they’re not machines. I think the atmosphere may have just got to him a little bit. You can’t make excuses; it just didn’t work out today. It is a big course but there’s no tricks, it’s there to jump.”
Next in for GBR was Joe Clee with Ludwig Criel’s Utamaro d’Ecaussines. Getting off to a good start, Joe was unfortunate to have the first two fences of the triple combination down, followed by the water jump to finish inside the time with 12 faults, for a final score of 16.24 penalties.
“No, it didn’t go to plan, I don’t really know what happened,” Joe said after his round, “I watched the video back, I think he either spooked at the water at the last minute under the jump or jumping into the shadows, he had a little look at fence number 3. I maybe over-reacted a little bit, but it was a big oxer coming into the double and I overrode him a little coming into it because of the spook before.
“I came here to try and jump clear rounds and do my best and that didn’t happen today, I’m disappointed. In the end my horse finished very strongly and really well, so I’m pleased with that but obviously bitterly disappointed it didn’t go to plan.”
The youngest member of the team, Spencer Roe, went out of the blocks with Wonder Why with a look of determination but an unfortunate two poles down from the talented duo saw them finish with 13.55 penalties.
“The first half of the course was great the horse felt amazing,” Spencer commented, “I came down that last but one line and I was a bit open to number 10 and made that line a bit long for me, but apart from that I’m thrilled with him.”
Speaking about the championship experience he said, “This is a completely different thing, from Nations Cups there’s a lot bigger crowd, it means a lot more. It’s a bad day at the office, but you can soon work on that and come back tomorrow and jump some clear rounds. The other guys they jumped great and the horses still jumped great it’s just unlucky. To be here and getting the experience at this young age is good for me, it’s great to be here and have success at a young age, it’s unbelievable really.”
Scott Brash was the last of the Brits to go; with Lord and Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham’s Hello Sanctos he produced some lovely jumping but an unfortunate toe in the water saw them accrue 4 penalties to add to yesterday’s total, leaving them with a final total of 8.10 penalties, for 36th place.
“It’s been unfortunate but we’ve got to take the positives from here; for two lads it’s their first championships, they’ve both ridden great and jumped great and just little silly faults here and there and I’m sure they’ll go and improve upon them in years to come , I think they’re great additions to the squad. It’s very, very important to bring new combinations in, there has to be a depth in the squads to go from. It just wasn’t our day today.”
Britain’s showjumping Chef d’Equipe Rob Hoekstra summed up the results; “These things go in cycles, and we had a fantastic cycle – Europeans, Olympics, Europeans – and we’re in the other part of the cycle. It’s disappointing but there’s also some real positives, I thought Spencer rode fantastic, really pleased for him; Joe’s horse was a bit inexperienced at the beginning but finished up really well. We’re looking at two horses who are at a championship for the first time, it’s a huge step up and they’ve performed really well. All the riders and the horses performed to the best of their ability out here; we’re all disappointed but it’s just not worked out for us this week.”
In the impressive Zenith it was the first day of the Freestyle rounds for the Individual female competitors; with only the top 15 progressing through to round two it was all to play for as they took to the arena.
Hannah was again the first GBR athlete into the spotlight as she vaulted with team stalwart WH Bentley. Showing great rhythm throughout her fast-paced music, she put the freestyle into freestyle, as she changed some movements in the last half of her test.
Commenting afterwards Hannah said; “I don’t know what I did at the end of my freestyle, because that’s not normally what I do but I went in there and felt confident and decided to do something different. It’s amazing being here, the arena is insane – the crowd is so close and you’re so aware of them. I really prefer a big crowd, one that you get an atmosphere from; I think it makes it far more special - that’s what WEG is about.” Hannah finished round one on a score of 7.886 for eleventh place overall.
Current world champion Joanne Eccles was next into the arena for Team GBR. Lying in second place overnight after a superb compulsory test, she produced a stunning test to finish top of the leaderboard, after scoring highly on movements including her show-stopping one handed handstand and cartwheel.
Commenting on her first round score of 8.619, Joanne said; “I was feeling good after my test. The moves in my routine have been developed over the past ten years of vaulting, some of them have been in my freestyle every year since about 2006; I’m always trying to do something a little bit different and get in as many of the difficult or exciting to watch moves as I can. To do it in there on that horse, it’s a great feeling.”
Lucy was the last of the British contingent into the arena. Alongside the ever impressive Pitu the pair produced a lovely fluid test, to pick up high marks from the judges throughout the impressive routine. Finishing on a first round score of 7.823, sees them sit in twelfth place overnight.
“I just wanted to go out there and enjoy it. There was one little slip but I was really pleased. My theme is ‘is your love strong enough’ from the Girl with the Dragon tattoo, it’s the second year I’ve used it. It’s my first world championships with my mum lunging me, she’s done really well so far and I’m really proud of her.”
All three of Britain’s female vaulters have made it through to the second round, which sees a technical test take place tomorrow, followed by a second freestyle round on Friday.
All fifteen driving horses successfully passed today’s horse inspection down at La Prairie Racecourse and are getting ready for the competition, which gets underway tomorrow morning with the first of two days of driven dressage taking place. GBR will have two representatives taking to the arena tomorrow as Dick Lane and Wilf Bowman-Ripley get Team GBR underway on the first of four days of competition; Georgina Hunt takes to the arena on Friday for her dressage test.
The driven dressage phase is followed by the marathon on Saturday, with the cones test rounding things off on Sunday.
Startlist - http://www.normandy2014.com/2014-games/the-disciplines/4/driving
10.09 Driving: Dick Lane
14.15 (approx.) Vaulting: Lucy Phillips
14.20 (approx.) Vaulting: Hannah Eccles
14.50 Driving: Wilf Bowman
15.20 Vaulting: Joanne Eccles
20.00 Vaulting: Pas de Deux competition begins
(Please note all times are given in CET time ; if watching in the UK please remember that France is one hour ahead)