Dressage boost for British event team

  • Following some controversial judging, Britain leads going into the cross-country phase at the European three-day event championships at Pau, France

    Great Britain has extended its lead after dressage at the European three-day event championships at Pau, France, and now has almost the cost of a cross-country refusal in hand over Germany. Italy is now third and France fourth.

    Ingrid Klimke, who has been omitted from the German team, has a commanding lead of 4.8 in the individual table over the defending champion, Pippa Funnell, whose result was marred by controversy.

    While the three judges, president Nani Grignolo, Guy Otheguy and Jean Mitchell were in total agreement for Ingrid’s consistent and beautifully ridden test on the Thoroughbred/Holstein gelding Robinson’s Concord, Mrs Mitchell went completely over the top for Pippa and awarded her 210 marks – eight more than in Sydney – a difference of at least 35 from the other two.

    As Mrs Mitchell awarded Pippa eights and nines for a few movements marred by lack of balance, a knowledgeable French and German audience booed and some British supporters were left feeling distinctly embarrassed.

    Veteran Irish judge Van der Vater, while disagreeing with her marking, defended Mrs Mitchell saying: “It’s easy to judge a bad horse – much more difficult get it right with a good one.”

    Pippa commented: “I do agree that the Irish judge [Jean Mitchell] was over-generous, and Rocky [Supreme Rock] knows the test so well that he anticipated the extended canter, but as I was doing my test I saw quite a few sixes from the other two judges, which I thought was a bit harsh.

    “In the end Ithink the marking worked out and that I got the mark I deserved, but I certainly feel that Ingrid’s was the leading test.”

    Ingrid, daughter of the late Dr Reiner Klimke, the most successful Olympic dressage rider of all time, said of her test: “I am very happy. It is the best he has done. He was so quiet and concentrated; he seemed to know it was something special.

    “The cross-country course is big and technical; you need to have a strong plan and know your approach at each fence. But I am looking forward to it. Robinson’s Concord has jumped clear within the time at his last three events and, after Sydney [where Ingrid was denied a team medal despite her own brilliant performance], I am happy to be an individual rider.

    “This horse has missed a lot of work through my absence in Sydney [where she rode Sleep Late, who has a leg problem this year] and then through foot and mouth. If something goes wrong, I can pull him up.”

    Heidi Antikatzides, the sole Greek rider,who so nearly won an Olympic medal last year, is third, eight penalties behind Pippa, on Michaelmas, French individual Aurelien Khan, a 32-year-old riding instructor, and the National Stud (Haras Nationaux) horse Daryus de Chamois is fourth and Bettina Hoy, the German team anchor, is fifth on Unsung Hero.

    Click here to read William Fox-Pitt’s view of the cross-country course.

    Click here to read results after dressage phase.

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