As I was first to go for the team, an early start to yesterday morning was inevitable. But surprisingly I actually felt more excited than nervous as I gave Little Beau (“Rooey”) his pre-test warm-up at 6.30am, because he’d been going so well all week.
By the time I went into the arena crowds had started to gather, but the atmosphere was good and Rooey didn’t seem that bothered. I made sure I gave the judges all a cheesy grin as I passed — which got me accused of flirting later! — and we proceeded to make our best attempt to date at this much practised test.
Rooey tried his heart out and I was thrilled with him, but somewhat disappointed with my mark of 56, especially when I discovered that there was a massive 13 mark discrepancy between the judges — one of whom had put me in fourth at the end of the day. The other team riders all did good tests too, although we still hadn’t made it into the 40s by the afternoon, with Dani (Cuomo) scoring 55 and Emily (Galbraith) 52.8.
It was therefore left to our final competitor of the day, individual rider Nicola Wilson to fly the dressage flag for Britain, and she rose to the challenge spectacularly, scoring 47.4, which elevated her into an exciting fifth place overnight.
What I was most surprised about was our marks relative to those of our foreign contenders, because I thought our team was pretty strong this year. The French, however, had produced three low 40 tests before lunch, and I couldn’t believe the difference in movement between the continental horses and our own — who all did exceptionally correct and accurate tests.
However all is not yet lost, as I’m sure we’ll all prove by racing round on Saturday.
Log back on later for a report of Friday’s action and don’t forget to buy Horse & Hound next week (30 August) for a full report from Blair.