Even without the likes of Totilas and Undercover present, I came away from WEG exhilarated by the overall standard. To make the cut for the grand prix special you needed 70.8%, which must surely be a record?
The evening before their team test, I was transfixed watching Charlotte training Valegro. They were producing an alchemy of energy, harmony and correctness and I recall telling myself that Valegro is simply the best dressage horse the world has ever seen.
A few moments later, the relevance of my phraseology dawned on me and from then on I never doubted that Charlotte and Valegro would be crowned world champions.
My role in Team GBR was as coach for Carl with Jane de la Mare’s talented, but inexperienced Nip Tuck. For team success, it was critical that Carl could focus equally on both his own riding and his training of Charlotte.
When we were not training, I did some television commentary, which provided me not only with the best viewing seat in the house, but gave me another perspective of WEG.
While the competition was of the highest level, sadly, most people I met found the organisation to be lacking. As far as the equine facilities were concerned, the slight slope to the warm-up arenas was not a big issue for me, but the drainage of the surface was concerning and it was lucky that we didn’t have the even heavier rain that was forecast.
The food and refreshment facilities backstage for support staff were almost non-existent, but were apparently even worse for ticket holders front of house.
That said, nothing would dampen my enjoyment of the standard of dressage, nor my pride in team GBR’s standing in the medal table at the end of week one, thanks to yet another incredible haul by our brilliant para dressage squad.
Originally published in H&H magazine on Thursday 4 September