Tight at the top in Tryon after day one
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After a frenetic build up to bring the spectacular site at the Tryon International Equestrian Centre to a state of readiness to welcome the world over the last few days, the eagerly awaited FEI World Team Championship, supported by Helgstrand Dressage, got underway as part of the FEI World Equestrian Games.
Fifteen nations came forward for the team honours with two riders in action on day one. The first rider for Britain, drawn tenth, was Spencer Wilton with Jen Goodman’s 15 year old De Niro in their third Championship together. It was the first time Spencer acted as pathfinder but he felt a quieter position in the running order would help him to keep ‘Neville’, who can let the nerves get to him, more settled. It proved to be a wise choice as 74.58% was just the score the Brits needed to get them off to a strong start. A few moments of inconsistency in the piaffe work were the only noticeable blips in an otherwise strong performance which delighted the British supporters.
“He felt amazing, really good. He does get nervous but I felt him relax as the test went on. The nerves did show in his first piaffe but I’m so pleased,” said a beaming Spencer.
“It’s been a difficult year with injuries to both of us but it’s brilliant to now get the job done. He’s 15 now and fully grown up and he’s learning to deal better with the big atmosphere. I didn’t mind going first and knew it was really important to get a good mark for the rest of the team to build on so I’m glad I did my job,” he continued.
At the lunch break, it was Jessica von Bredow-Werndl who held the lead for red hot gold medal favourites Germany with TSF Dalera BB with 76.67%.
The second session got underway after a shower deluge tested the arena drainage to the full but the footing held up well for the first few second team riders.
Emile Faurie, making his 11th championship appearance for Team GBR, was our second rider with Hof Kasselmann KG’s Dimaggio sired 11 year old Dono di Maggio on Championship debut. The horse is quite inexperienced at the elite level of the sport but Emile has great belief in his ability and potential. But today, as the sun appeared bringing sweltering heat, the inexperience showed for a few costly errors. A costly missed one time change, a few uncertain piaffe/passage steps and a near-break in the final extended trot, which Emile went on to recover well, kept the score pegged back but some work was trending on 7.7 upwards on the score board so the potential is there. 72.79% was the final score, a very credible performance in the company but the Oxfordshire rider was clearly disappointed.
“He’s a very young inexperienced horse and went into himself a bit so sadly he didn’t shine quite as much as I know he can. He’s an incredible horse but never seen anything like this,” he said.
But Emile’s vast experience and positive outlook put his own performance behind him to focus on what’s to come; “Spencer [Wilton] was magnificent this morning and Carl and Charlotte are seasoned professionals but they’re on young horses too so we’ll have to see what happens. I’ve not contributed quite as I’d have liked but we’re still up there.”
Immediately after Emile was the key duo of Dorothee Schneider for Germany with Sammy Davis Jr and they posted 75.06% to go second to her team mate. But then the next rider, Sweden’s Juliette Ramel riding Buriel KH somewhat upset the form book with a 75.24% to neatly nestle between the two Germans.
Hans Peter Minderhoud was a late threat to upset the team standings but a 73.5% with Glock’s Dream Boy NOP put them just behind Spencer. The final rider who could make a difference to the clubhouse standings was Adrienne Lyle, riding Salvino, for the home nation, the USA. It was nip and tuck the whole way with her scores trending near Spencer right up to the centre line so it was an agonising wait for that confirmed score to appear. 74.86% it was, pushing Spencer back by just 0.3% but enough to push Team GBR to fourth in the team standings.
So, as many predicted, Germany hold the advantage after the first day, Sweden second, the USA third, Britain narrowly in forth and the Netherlands fifth. However it’s all exceptionally close with the third and fourth riders to come in an exciting climax in the US Trust arena tomorrow.