I am really pleased with how Dundee went in the dressage. He was really calm and coped brilliantly with the atmosphere and the conditions. The rain was a heavy drizzle when I went in, but I was so focused that I didn’t really notice it.
The extended trot and canter felt lovely, but unfortunately he put in an extra flying change that wasn’t needed. I managed to correct that quite quickly so it didn’t affect the next movement. I was a bit disappointed with my mark (63.2) but it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m here to complete my first four-star, not to win prizes!
I didn’t appreciated all the extra factors we were going to have to cope with until we were in the main arena, such as TV cameras moving around, but he didn’t spook once. It wasn’t that he wasn’t on edge because once we got out of the arena and were heading back towards the stables he was really excited and wouldn’t walk a step.
Dundee was selected for a random drugs test, so we had to go straight from the dressage to the vet’s box for samples to be collected. The vet thought he was brilliant as he will wee on command if you whistle, particularly after being ridden.
The ground here is holding up really well considering the rain. Yesterday a group of us walked the course with Mark Phillips, which was really useful. He told us how he would like the fences to be ridden, including at what speed, plus what alternatives were on offer. I’ve walked the course today on my own as well.
I’ve got a good vibe about the course, but there are three combinations that I think will be the trickiest for us. The first is the Leaf Pit at 4, because this will tell me what mood he is in and whether he is going to let me ride him. The next is the Dairy Mound, where I am planning to take the long route, so that will be a test of our steering. And finally Capability Cutting, which is fair way round the course and he may be getting quite long and strung out by this point.
There are loads of questions all the way round the course and it certainly deserves some hearty respect. I expect to be running in the middle of the day tomorrow so I won’t get the best, or the worst, of the ground. Dundee goes in all conditions so that’s not too much of a worry. I can’t wait to get started!