Emma Hindle has ridden the test of her life to lie in second place individually at the halfway stage in the Olympic team dressage competition in Hong Kong.
She scored 71.125% on the Thoroughbred stallion Lancet, and is only 1.1% behind Germany’s Heike Kemme on Bonaparte.
Emma’s superb performance, which caused the floodlit arena to erupt, prompted Chris Bartle, Britain’s most successful Olympic dressage rider thus far, to say: “I think my record is in danger. If Emma carries on like this, she’ll go all the way.”
“It’s one of my best ever,” confirmed Germany-based Emma, who wouldn’t be drawn on Britain’s team chances. “Our goal is a medal in 2012; this is a stepping stone.”
Third is Lancet’s former rider, the Netherlands’ Imke Schellekens-Bartles, who scored 70.87% on Sunrise. The mare got her tongue over the bit in the canter half-passes and, according to Imke, “felt a little affected by the heat”.
With two out of the three Dutch riders having performed under expectations — Hans Peter Minderhoud was unfortunate to be drawn first, and scored 69.62% for a seemingly faultless test — Germany, bar a lightening strike or a rider falling off, has gold in the bag already. Tomorrow’s riders, Nadine Capellman and Isabell Werth, are highly unlikely to score below 70%. The Germans are unbeaten in the Olympics since 1972.
“I think the medals are decided already, I’m afraid,” said Imke, a member of the team which at last beat Germany at last year’s Europeans. “We may be lucky to get one at all.”
The Americans also look dangerous, with Courtney King fourth on Mythilus on 70.45%.
And Britain’s chance of a medal relies on Laura Bechtolsheimer, who is under pressure to pull off something special tomorrow, after a below-par start by Jane Gregory on Lucky Star, who scored 63.3% — at least 5% below her usual standard.
“That was disappointing,” said Jane with admirable candour. “It was a combination of me perhaps trying too hard and him not being at his best. He’s a good horse, just not an amazing horse.”
Stay in touch with all the Olympic dressage news as it happens on Horseandhound.co.uk, and read H&H’s report, on sale 21 August, ’08