British riders filled the top spots at the dressage test event in Normandy ahead of this summer’s World Equestrian Games (WEG).
Gold medallist Carl Hester won the grand prix special yesterday (Tuesday 24 June) with Nip Tuck. His teammate Gareth Hughes was 2nd.
On Monday (23 June) Gareth took the grand prix with DV Stenkjers Nadonna, ahead of Carl.
Riders praised the conditions at the test event, which took place at the d’Ornano Stadium in Normandy — the venue for the dressage and jumping.
“It’s going to be brilliant,” said Carl. “It’s absolutely spot-on from a structural perspective. The footing is excellent and it will only improve for staying in place between now and the Games so that we can really ride to the maximum.
“It was definitely worth coming here and it should give the riders lots of confidence going into the Games.”
The FEI reports that the venue also received “extremely favourable reactions” from the National Federations ahead of WEG, which starts on 23 August.
15 riders from 9 nations took part in the dressage test event, which included a grand prix, grand prix special and freestyle.
The aim was to test the arena, training areas, footing, results and timing systems as well as stabling, horse arrival and departure areas, and media services.
“It’s a really fantastic stadium and the sports side is top-class”, said FEI dressage director Trond Asmyr.
“Of course as it’s a test event we will need to go through all the small details to be sure that if anything needs to be worked on or improved that it’s done, but the starting point is excellent and everyone is very much looking forward to coming back to Normandy in August.”
Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein of Denmark, who finished 3rd both days with Fabienne, added: “I came here with no expectations and have been really positively surprised.
“The footing is really nice, the stables are good and the access is excellent. I’m very confident that things are going to work out well here.”
Fabien Grobon from the WEG organising committee added: “The 2 days went as expected, and even though we decided not to have spectators for the dressage so that we could test other aspects, we had a great show for the horses.
“Now we need to stay focused for a lot more horses in the jumping and a big crowd coming on Wednesday when our goal is to welcome around 24,000 spectators to the venue.
“We’ve had a lot of very positive feedback so far, but although the test events are a vital part of the process, we must remember this is only a test. What really matters is August.”
The showjumping test event gets underway today (Wednesday 25 June) with horses from 24 nations taking part in 4 competitions across the next 2 days.