“Disappointing” was Mary King’s word for her 51.9 dressage mark. But it set the tone for Britain’s team eventing challenge on the first day of dressage at WEG, in which the marking was sometimes as erratic as the weather. At the half-way stage, they trailed in sixth, behind Australia, Germany, USA, France and New Zealand.
Though the Aussies were pleasantly surprised to see themselves topping the leaderboard, with Ingrid Klimke and Bettina Hoy to come tomorrow, Germany will be out to topple them. And they would have today if the day’s leading rider, Andreas Dibowski, had been riding on the German team instead of as an individual.
Dibowski’s mare, FRH Serve Well, is short on recent four-star experience, but though his rider thought she “felt nervous to start with, she got better and better, and after the extended trot I was really able to ride her.” His mark of 40.9 put him well ahead of Australia’s Megan Jones (44.1) and Donna Smith (45.4), going individually for NZ on Call Me Clifton, who was saintly through a torrential downpour.
From an inopportune draw (only second to go) Mary King endured heavy rain and thunderclaps – and some very restrained pre-lunch marking from the judges. Her score on Call Again Cavalier divided the judges, their views diverging by 27 marks, with the German judge, not Britain’s Angela Tucker, proving the most generous.
But if Mary was despondent, Daisy Dick was disconsolate. Despite working in beautifully and feeling “really on the ball” going down the centre line, he became distracted and was intent on moving off in canter instead of trot. Daisy was at a loss to explain it. “He’s always been so consistent – but once you start like a muppet they [the judges] think you’re one for the rest of the test.”
At least her score – a hefty 64.3 – put a new complexion on the cross country for her. “Having thought yesterday that it was really big and scary, I’m now glad it is. I need to go out there and do something to justify my place on the team.”
Sharon Hunt, riding individually for Britain, fared much better on her British senior team debut, lying 6th at the end of a first day’s dressage, and benefiting slightly from judging that, like the weather, got distinctly brighter as the day progressed.
Look out for the full report from all the Eventing action in Aachen in Horse & Hound, 31 August