Britain holds the team gold position at the close of the dressage phase at the HSBC FEI European Eventing Championships in Fontainebleau, France — and British team members Oliver Townend and Tina Cook (pictured) share the lead individually.
Tina took the lead in the last session before lunch, scoring 37.9 with the Olympic double bronze medallist Miners Frolic. She received a 10 from Anne Mette Binder at M for her mid-test halt, and the marks only dropped significantly in the rein-back, for which she received 5,6,5.
“I was really pleased he felt so soft and relaxed, but I’m no dressage queen so I didn’t want to start smiling in case everyone else thought I should have done better,” said Tina afterwards. “He hates doing rein-back and if he’s at all tense he goes back very quickly — it was quite fast today.”
Listen to Tina Cook’s interview
In blazing sunshine, the competition really hotted up today with plenty of good tests and spectators were frantically working out what each team rider needed to score to change their nation’s position.
Germany’s Ingrid Klimke (FRH Butts Abraxxas) was the rider before Tina, and her score of 39.2 put her equal with her team-mate, overnight leader Frank Ostholt. Their scores and Michael Jung’s 45 from yesterday put Germany in team silver, 6.1pen behind Britain.
France is another 5.2pen further in arreas — Nicolas Touzaint put in their best test today and holds the individual bronze position on Tatchou.
Oliver Townend was in the final batch of riders and he conjured an excellent test from Badminton winner Flint Curtis — on the provisional scoreboard he beat Tina by 0.2pen, but the confirmed marks gave them exactly the same score.
Oliver said: “He isn’t at his best — he was definitely better before Badminton and certainly before Poland [the World Cup final, where he led the dressage but fell on the flat across country]. He’s just a bit tight in his body, but there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s a very good horse and so long as I press the right buttons, it generally works.”
Oliver emphasised that the competition isn’t over yet, saying: “It’s a good feeling, but there’s a hell of a long way to go. I think the [cross-country] course is more serious than people are making out.”
Listen to Oliver’s interview
British individual Piggy French was the surprise sensation of today. She and Some Day Soon scored a personal best of 41.7 and lie 10th overnight.
“He’s a spooky, tense horse and I was worried about the crowd being so close, but he pulled everything out of the bag for me,” she said. “I’m proud of him — I didn’t know he had it in him to be that chilled.”
Listen to Piggy’s interview
At tonight’s press conference British chef d’equipe Yogi Breisner revealed that pathfinder Nicola Wilson will take the direct routes across country tomorrow and try to get as close to the optimum time as possible, with the tactics for the rest of the team confirmed as the competition unfolds.
INDIVIDUAL RESULTS AFTER DRESSAGE
1eq. Oliver Townend on Flint Curtis (GB) 37.9
1eq. Tina Cook on Miners Frolic (GB) 37.9
3.Nicolas Touzaint on Tatchou (FRA) 38.1
4.Tim Lips on Van Schijndel’s Concrex Owaola (NED) 38.5
5.Karin Donkers on Gazelle De La Brasserie CH (BEL) 38.7
6eq. Frank Ostholt on Air Jordan 2 (GER) 39.2
6eq. Ingrid Klimke on FRH Butts Abraxxas (GER) 39.2
OTHER BRITISH POSITIONS
9. William Fox-Pitt on Idalgo (GB) 41.5
10. Piggy French on Some Day Soon (GB) 41.7
15. Lucy Wiegersma on Woodfalls Inigo Jones (GB) 45
39eq. Nicola Wilson on Opposition Buzz (GB) 56.7
TEAM RESULTS AFTER DRESSAGE
1. Great Britain 117.3
2. Germany 123.4
3. France 128.6
Read daily reports from the Europeans at www.horseandhound.co.uk/eventingeuros2009 and don’t miss H&H on 1 October for our full eight-page special report.