All the British horses passed the first horse inspection for the eventing at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky this morning.
All six British horses looked very well. The squad consists of Mary King (Imperial Cavalier, above right), Nicola Wilson (Opposition Buzz, below left), William Fox-Pitt (Cool Mountain), Tina Cook (Miners Frolic), Piggy French (Jakata) and Pippa Funnell (Redesigned).
British chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner said after the trot-up that the team (four riders) and individuals (two riders) will be confirmed after a meeting at noon.
Not all the leading nations are faring so well at this early stage. French competitor Lionel Guyon did not trot up Métisse De Lalou, who is rumoured to have had colic since arriving in America, while the French are also without the might of Nicolas Touzaint and Jean Teulère, whose rides Tatchou and Matelot Du Grand Val were injured before travelling.
But perhaps the biggest shock this morning was the announcement that the home side is down to five riders having lost Kim Severson’s ride Tipperary Liadhnan. There was an audible gasp when his withdrawal was announced.
American chef d’equipe Mark Phillips said: “In recent days, the horse had an infection (cellulitis) which was improving daily. It took a dramatic turn for the worse on Tuesday morning which was 24 hours too late to make a substitution to the team. We have had not only our team vet, Dr Brendan Furlong, but also the best veterinary expertise available in Lexington working with the horse. No one can determine why there was such a dramatic downturn.
“The selectors and the USEF [US equestrian federation] felt that having Tipperary Liadhnan on the squad was our very best chance to win a team medal and that was and still is our priority. In the best interest of the horse’s welfare we made the difficult decision not to run him.”
Eighty-five horses were named on the trot-up start list. Ireland’s Elizabeth Power did not present Kilpatrick River, which was expected, and Ecuador’s Ronald Zabala (Mr Wiseguy) also withdrew.
Three horses were sent to the holding box. Lukasz Kazmierczak’s Ostler, for Poland, was passed on re-inspection, as was Duarte Seabra’s Fernhill Gloster Rebel, representing Portugal. But there was bad news for the last competitor to present, Mexico’s Escipion Mendivil Minjares, when the ground jury (Ireland’s David Lee, the USA’s Marilyn Payne and Denmark’s Anne-Mette Binder) eliminated his ride Azteca on re-inspection.
Andrew Nicholson trotted up New Zealand team-mate Mark Todd’s ride Grass Valley — Mark has pulled a tendon and was seen limping, but is apparently in high spirits. A visit to a joke shop had yielded comedy glasses and teeth, which he was spotted wearing at the trot-up.
The eventing dressage starts at 9am Kentucky time tomorrow (2pm British time).
Log back on for updates on the eventing competition. Full report in H&H out 7 October, including comment from British team member Tina Cook.