Britain’s team lie in second place after the first phase of the eventing Nations Cup in Aachen (Thursday 13 August).
The competition is running alongside the FEI European Championships in dressage, showjumping, reining, vaulting and driving taking place at this prestigious German venue. But it is not the eventing European Championships — this is taking place at Blair Castle in Scotland in September.
Britain has a policy of giving up-and-coming riders experience in the Nations Cup series and has stuck to this for Aachen. The four riders on the team are all making their championship debut at Blair, and three of them are riding the same horses here.
Holly Woodhead starred for Britain in today’s opening dressage phase. The 21-year-old sits in third place individually after a fantastic expressive test with her father Ian and stepmother Heidi’s DHI Lupison, the chestnut horse with whom she won Bramham’s under-25 class in June. She scored 34.3, a CIC3* personal best by more than eight marks..
“I’ve never ridden that test in the arena, while the Bramham test I knew inside out and I knew where I could get marks. This one was a bit alien, but his walk was much better here than at Bramham and I’m really pleased to be there against the best in the world,” said Holly.
Holly had to cope with the crowd exploding in response to Ingrid Klimke’s mark being announced just as she was riding past the grandstand before her test. DHI Lupison spooked, but she quickly settled him again.
Gemma Tattersall provided the second best British score, sitting 12th on the 10-year-old syndicate-owned grey mare Quicklook V.
“She’s the biggest show off I’ve ever known — she thinks everyone is here for her,” said Gemma after scoring 41.
Gemma is the only British competitor here not riding her Blair mount as she takes Arctic Soul to the Europeans.
Francis Whittington was the very first rider into the arena this morning and holds 15th place on 43.3 with Catherine Witt’s Easy Target. His only error was a costly spook early in the canter work.
“Apart from that I was pleased with him,” he said. “When I went into the arena he had a little look at that area, which is why I brought him back to trot and went past it again. He was just being a little fruity about it, but it’s good to sort these things out now.”
“The arena is electric and there are areas to work on, but overall I’m dead chuffed with him,” she said. “The changes were rather expressive and I’d like to get them a bit more in the box.”
Flora also turned right instead of left in the first walk pirouette.
“It was a blonde moment and not my finest hour — I’m very dyslexic, so left and right are not my strong point,” she explained.
The British team have a combined score of 118.6. The Germans are leading on 110.1, with New Zealand third on 121.2. The best Kiwi rider is Jonelle Price, eighth on Luhmühlen runner-up Faerie Dianimo.
“She’s not really a one-day event horse and she’s not been particularly easy this week. She was on edge, but she stayed the right side of the edge,” said Jonelle. “She can blow, but if we can keep going in the arena and producing incident-free tests, then with more maturity it will go the right way.”
There are nine teams here in total.
Britain’s fifth rider, Izzy Taylor, withdrew Allercombe Ellie before yesterday’s trot-up as she did not feel right.
Klimke heads German charge
The home side’s Ingrid Klimke holds the lead with individual ride Luhmühlen winner FRH Escada JS on 32.1, while her team horse Horseware Hale Bob, sits in sixth place. Her team-mate Sandra Auffarth claims second individually with world champion Opgun Louvo. Their other team riders are Michael Jung (ninth on Halunke FBW) and Dirk Schrade (17th equal on Hop And Skip).
Andrew Hoy is best of the fourth-placed Australian team, lying fourth individually too with Cheeky Calimbo (34.5).
Sara Algotsson Ostholt, who had her second child — a boy named Eric — 10 months ago, spearheads the Swedish effort with fifth place on Reality 39 on a mark of 35.9. Her team are also fifth.
“I think she liked it in there — the ground was perfect and she’s not a horse who gets tense,” said Sara. “That was about as good as we can do at the moment.”
The eventers will showjump this evening, kicking off at 5.30pm local time (4.30pm in Britain). They go across country tomorrow afternoon, starting at 2pm local time (1pm in Britain).