It was an action packed day down at the driving venue, La Prairie Racecourse, as the marathon phase at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games got under way.
First team member, Dick Lane, got things underway for the Brits and put in a superb performance with his team of Lipizzaners. With only a slight problem at the first obstacle, due to the quick speed at which the team entered, he posted a good score of 114.34 for a total (after the two phases) of 180.18.
Delighted, he commented afterwards; “We generally had a very good marathon. We were a bit ambitious with our turns in number one and it was difficult to make the turn, but we recovered well and generally the marathon was a very enjoyable marathon to drive.
“It was very well marked and the obstacles drove very well. It was a kind marathon to the horse, the way the obstacles were numbered you had a tight one, then a flowing one; and the two water ones obviously cooled the horses down.
“It was a great atmosphere - you end up not being able to hear yourselves, and the horses can’t hear you; it’s a different atmosphere to drive in, one that you cannot recreate – we don’t have crowds like this in Great Britain, but it’s fantastic to be here and competing at this level.”
Next out on course was Georgina Hunt; producing a lovely round with her team to finished on a marathon score of 107.10, for a total after two phases of 162.02.
Georgina spoke after her round; “I’m reasonably pleased; it wasn’t our best round ever. I wasn’t too sure how the horses would react to the atmosphere, and I think I should have trusted them more, because towards the end they weren’t taking me forward, but overall pleased – it’s a tough, testing course.
“The surface is good, but more slip than I remember last year [from the Test Event] and my carriage spun out and cost me a knock-down [in obstacle four] so, disappointed with that.”
Last of the Brits was Wilf Bowman-Ripley and his team. After having to change one of his horses late in the day, a slightly disappointed Wilf commented on his score of 99.7, which gives him an overall total of 154.51;
“Not too good really, I worked the horses this morning but they were a bit too fresh coming into the first obstacle because it was easy going. I had a mistake in obstacle five, I was concentrating on the leaders too much, which is more my fault than the horses; they were good there, they got me out of trouble, and after that the other obstacles went fine. We knew it was going to be an easier cross-country - this time of year the horses are all fit and at their peak. We’ve had a battle to get here, but they were all good.”
The British team lie in eighth place overnight, heading into tomorrow’s final phase – the cones – which kicks-off at 07.00 (UK time) tomorrow.