Tina Cook is in line for the individual gold medal at the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships after cross-country, and the British team is nearly 60 points ahead in the quest for an eighth consecutive team gold.
Tina (pictured) rode with pinpoint accuracy and fierce determination and brought the 11-year-old Miners Frolic home just 2sec over the optimum time.
“Team gold would be magic and I’m elated to be in the lead, but it wasn’t a course I enjoyed or which suited him,” said Tina after her round. “I had to be a bit chancy on the corners and he was brilliant and helped me out a couple of times. The strength in our partnership is that he trusts me.
“William Fox-Pitt said, ‘Don’t look pretty, look ugly, be effective’ and I could hear him ringing in my ears when I was going round some corners where I’d have liked to slow down.”
Tina was ably backed up by William — who added just 3.6 time-penalties on Idalgo and now holds the individual bronze spot — and Nicola Wilson, who had a dream British team debut as pathfinder on Opposition Buzz.
She said: “It was a huge relief — he’s a fantastic horse to ride cross-country country although he did take quite a strong hold today, which he doesn’t normally. But we came up with the goods and I was delighted to come home clear in the time, which were my instructions. I was able to transmit positive vibes to the others.”
Oliver Townend was the only British rider to have a disappointing day. Having shared the dressage lead with Tina, it all went wrong for him when Flint Curtis failed to lock onto the boat corner out at the first water complex (fence 8cd) and ran out. He had another 20 jumping penalties later on, but brought the horse home in case he is needed for the team result tomorrow.
German challenge evaporates
After a superb trailblazer round by Michael Jung, now second individually on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW, the German challenge fell apart. Frank Ostholt was eliminated for three stops, Ingrid Klimke retired after two and Andreas Dibowski fell off.
The French lost Nicolas Touzaint (third after dressage on Tatchou), who was eliminated for jumping the wrong side of the flag at the boat corner. But their other three riders completed and led by Jean Teulère — who as the day’s final rider was welcomed back by an excited home crowd — they hold the team silver position.
The Italians have now moved up — their effort was spearheaded by Roberto Rotatori, fourth at Badminton this year — and look set to keep the team bronze medal they won at the last European Championships at Pratoni in 2007.
Piggy French lies fourth
Britain’s individuals also had a fantastic day. Lucy Wiegersma added 15.2 time-penalties in a mature ride on the squad’s youngest horse, the 10-year-old Woodfalls Inigo Jones, while Piggy French’s 5.6 time-penalties means she is now fourth individually on Some Day Soon and could have a chance of a medal if she show jumps well tomorrow.
“He’s a very big horse for a course this twisty and it was quite hard work getting him round, but I’m relieved to be back with a clear round,” she said.
Pierre Michele’s twisty, technical course certainly took its toll — only five of the original eight teams are still really in the competition, with the others all carrying some scores of 1000 for non-completions.
Tina Cook has a fence in hand going into tomorrow’s show jumping, while the British team is 14 “jumps down” ahead of France — assuming all the horses pass the trot-up, which is at 9am French time (8am British time).
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS AFTER CROSS-COUNTRY
1. Tina Cook on Miners Frolic (GB) 38.7
2. Michael Jung on La Biosthetique-Sam FBW 45
3. William Fox-Pitt on Idalgo (GB) 45.1
4. Piggy French on Some Day Soon (GB) 47.3
5. Arnaud Boiteau on Expo Du Moulin (GER) 47.9
6. Jean Teulère on Espoir De La Mare (FRA) 50.2
OTHER BRITISH PLACINGS
10. Nicola Wilson on Opposition Buzz (GB) 56.7
15. Lucy Wiegersma on Woodfalls Inigo Jones (GB) 60.2
32. Oliver Townend on Flint Curtis (GB) 105.9
TEAM PLACINGS AFTER CROSS-COUNTRY
1. Great Britain 140.5
2. France 197.9
3. Italy 211.2
4. Belgium 286.6
5. Sweden 313.6
Read daily reports from the Europeans at www.horseandhound.co.uk/eventingeuros2009 and don’t miss H&H on 1 October for our full eight-page special report, including Tina Cook’s column.