Some 23 Reining horse-and-rider combinations came back to the Parc des Expositions in Caen, France, today for the second individual qualifying competition at the World Equestrian Games. The top 15 pairs after the first individual qualifier had already earned their ticket to the Final which will be held on Saturday, August 30.
Second last to go, Troy Heikes, representing the USA as an individual, walked in aboard Lil Gun Dunit (Colonels Lil Gun x Hollywood Baby Dunit). Riding the eight-year-old stallion, owned by Denise Bixler and Steve Tarani, Heikes was set on making it to the Final and closed his run with a score of 220, the highest of the day.
“In the first qualifier we had a problem in his right circles,” Heikes said. “Today, though he felt really good, we also had one point lead penalty on that side. After that I knew we had to earn it back and he gave me all he had. Though I am not on the US team, I am part of the squad and am really happy with the way my horse went. For me, getting my horse ready for an FEI event is all very new and it has been a great experience,” he pointed out.
William Fox-Pitt (GBR) has given the British team a massive morale boost after the first day of the Eventing competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, where the Dressage phase is taking place below the chateau at Haras du Pin deep in the Normandy countryside.
Fox-Pitt and the biddable stallion Chilli Morning scored the only sub-40 mark, 37.5, to head defending champion Michael Jung and the mare FischerRocana FST by 3.2 penalties.
“Chilli is lovely to ride on the flat,” said Fox-Pitt, who was individual silver medallist and a member of the winning British team at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2010 in Kentucky (USA). “I’m relieved that we nailed it. That was his best test ever.”
Jung’s good score on the relatively inexperienced nine-year-old and Ingrid Klimke’s mark of 41.2 on another mare, FRH Escada JS, despite losing marks for a tense walk and early canter strike-off, puts Germany in the lead at this early stage.
“I’m very happy,” said Jung. “My horse was relaxed and didn’t make too many mistakes. She also concentrated. The arena wasn’t slippery, but horses were looking at the ground because of the rainwater in the arena.”
In a competition that buzzed with excitement from start to finish, Great Britain’s Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro claimed Dressage Grand Prix Special gold at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy, France, today. It wasn’t a flawless performance from the dynamic British duo, with mistakes that Dujardin afterwards described as “silly," but such was the quality of the rest of the work she produced with her extraordinary gelding that she still headed silver medalist Helen Langehanenberg with Damon Hill NRW, whose German team-mate, Kristina Sprehe, earned bronze with Desperados FRH.
“We made three expensive mistakes and I thought ‘Oh it’s cost me the medal!’, so I knew after each one that I had to go for a bit more to try and catch up on what I had already lost,” she said afterwards. “But he's such a fantastic horse, he's got a heart of gold. If I need to go for a bit more he tries to go for a bit more, he never says no I can't do it,” said the rider who now holds the Grand Prix Special title at Olympic, European and World Championship level.
They almost fell victim to their own enormous popularity however, as Dujardin found the enthusiasm of the spectators in the D’Ornano Stadium quite distracting throughout her test.
Germany claimed the Dressage team title in convincing style at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, France. Already out in front after their first two riders completed their tests yesterday, they nailed it with two more superb performances to finish well clear of Great Britain in silver medal spot, while the defending champions from The Netherlands took bronze.
The morning began with a superb performance from the third to go for Germany, Isabell Werth and Bella Rose whose score of 81.529 signalled the definitive return of Team Germany to the top of the pecking order in this sport in which they have always played such a dominant role. They never looked in any danger after that, and Helen Langehanenberg’s 81.357 with Damon Hill NRW was just the icing on the cake because, even without her brilliant effort, her country would be victorious.
The United States have won their fourth consecutive FEI World Equestrian Games™ Reining gold medal, followed by Belgium in silver and Austria in bronze, at the end of a second thrilling competition at the Parc des Expositions in Caen.
After Mandy McCutcheon rode Yellow Jersey (Wimpys Little Step x Ms Clara Melody), owned by her father – Tim McQuay – to a score of 224, the USA confirmed their supremacy in the team event established on Monday. On the first competition day, team members Andrea Fappani on Custom Cash Advance had obtained the top score (224) and Jordan Larson, riding HF Mobster, had earned the third best score (221).