Today saw the vaulters and drivers out in action for Team GBR in Normandy at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
Day three of the competition saw the start of the second round of vaulting in the individual female event and the start of the Pas de Deux class. With all three British vaulters in action it was a busy day in the impressive Zenith arena for Team GBR.
First to go was Lucy Phillips with the striking Pitucelli. Vaulting to the sounds of Beethoven’s Five Secrets, Lucy produced some lovely work aboard the dark bay gelding for a total score after three rounds of 7,163, which sees her in twelfth place overnight.
Commenting afterwards she said; “It went really well, there were a couple of bits that could have been better, but it was generally pretty good. My forwards-roll I can normally do with no hands but I just touched down on one hand, but the rest of it was fine so I can’t really complain about just that one little thing. The horse felt really good and I added a new move in that I’d never competed before (straddle lever to handstand) – it went really well.”
Hannah Eccles was next into the arena after Lucy, as the sound of Muse erupted around the arena. With some lovely movements throughout her vault, a score matching Lucy’s technical test was awarded, which sees Hannah move into ninth place, with an overall score of 7,449 after three rounds.
“I thought it was all good, my forward roll could have been better and my shoot-up mount, those were the main things,” said Hannah, “I’ve just changed my tech test back to one I did two years ago so I was happy to go through it and do it well. I prefer this tech test and I just felt for this competition I was going to go and do the one I felt more confident doing.”
Leading going into today’s technical round, Joanne Eccles produced a superb fluid test aboard WH Bentley to see a high total score of 8,513, topping the leaderboard again, heading into tomorrow’s freestyle.
Joanne spoke afterwards; “It was a really good round, I’m dead chuffed. It felt amazing for me, today we’ve got a few more British spectators in the crowd and I could see them waving their flags; I’m competing because I love the sport but I really wanted to put a good show on for them as well. I had that buzz from the beginning, and as soon as I got on Henry felt amazing.”
All three vaulters will compete in the final freestyle round tomorrow.
After the excitement of the afternoon’s session, the evening saw the Pas de Deux get underway for the first time this week – and the first time at a WEG. Britain’s representatives, Joanne and Hannah Eccles performed a stunning routine, with the inspiration coming from the poem Fire and Ice by Robert Frost, to score 8,570.
After Joanne commented; “We had a little hick-up at the beginning but it was amazing to be in there on Henry. You wouldn’t think going from one minute as an individual to two minutes as a pair, there would be such a difference, but there really is.”
“This year was a massive year,” added Hannah, “we decided that we had fun doing this routine, we wanted to show more of what we could do and to have fun doing it – we find this routine more fun than the last one [their WEG routine made its debut at Aachen this year].”
Commenting on the experience of doing a Pas de Deux at WEG for the first time they said; “Just to be here at WEG and do it, it’s a class above, so it’s nice to be here. To say we’ve done a pairs at WEG is pretty amazing, we’ve now done team, individual and pairs.”
The driving competition got underway at La Prairie Racecourse – venue for the para-dressage last week – this morning, with two of Great Britain’s drivers taking to the sun drenched arena early on in the proceedings.
First to go was Dick Lane, who makes his third World Games appearance for GBR, with his team of beautiful Lipizzaners. After a lovely test, despite a slight jog in the walk, a score of 65.84 flashed onto the scoreboard, getting the British team off to a good start.
After Dick summed up his test; “I was pleased. My second walk they just jogged most of that, and I got a hit in the marks but other than that I was pleased. You can’t recreate that kind of an atmosphere in there, it was good - I did the best I could. We’ve trained and prepared well and did everything we could so you just have to do the best you can on the day.
“It was the best draw for us today because we’ve got all day tomorrow now to prepare for the marathon; we can take our time now without having to think about the dressage all the time now. Hopefully the marathon will be a good, strong phase for us. It will suit my horses because a lot of the obstacles are tight and technical and I only have small horses, so it should suit them well and the going should be fantastic, not like anything we have at home.”
Wilf Bowman-Ripley was next up into the arena, and with his team produced a superb test for a great score after the dressage of 54.80.
He commented; “I was really pleased considering I didn’t have my A team here. We had to change my leader and bring a borrowed horse into the team (Unique, owned by Brian and Wendy Embleton), so I was pleased with the result. I’m looking forward to the cross-country; if we drive right the horses should be fast enough. It’s a really good course; it’s shorter than we normally drive, on a flat track so it should be quite easy for the horses hopefully.”
Both Dick and Wilf now have a rest day before Saturday’s marathon takes place.