Germany dominates the leader board after the first morning of eventing dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
German riders Simone Deitermann (Free Easy NRW) and Dirk Schrade (Gadget De La Cere) hold first and second places, while Britain’s first rider Nicola Wilson (pictured) lies ninth after her test on Opposition Buzz.
Simone, who rides as an individual on the horse with whom she was 12th at Badminton this year, holds a commanding 6.5pen lead after getting a mark of 36.
“He very nervous the first time in the stadium [during arena familiarisation earlier in the week], but today he was relaxed. I’m so happy,” said Simone.
First British team member Nicola was pleased with her test, but disappointed with her score of 51.2. Dressage has not historically been Opposition Buzz’s strongest phase, but he has improved considerably in the past 12 months with several scores in the 40s, which she had hoped to repeat here.
“He tried really hard and was very rideable, but we made a couple of mistakes we could have done without,” said Nicola, whose most noticeable error was jogging at the end of the walk movement. “His walk is normally very poor, but his walk across the diagonal today was actually the best walk he’s done in his life. He just anticipated the transition — he wasn’t being naughty, he was trying too hard.”
Six of the eight riders ahead of Nicola are team members, but the Brits will not be overly worried at this stage about their team placing. Nicola would be expected to be the discard score in this phase, but should provide a fast clear across country on Saturday as a back up should one of the better dressage horses falter.
The riders say that Mike Etherington-Smith’s cross-country course is a true championship track and will be influential.
“It’s very tough; long and demanding physically as well as mentally,” said Badminton winner Paul Tapner, third at this stage on Inonothing. “It’s certainly not a dressage competition, which is what I had hoped for with my horse as he’s always chasing the pack at this stage.”
Britain’s second rider William Fox-Pitt (Cool Mountain) is first after the lunch break at 1.30pm (6.30pm British time).
Log back on for more updates on the eventing, full report in H&H out 7 October.