Britain had already strengthened her gold medal hopes with flawless clears from the first two team riders, Piggy French and Nicola Wilson, who had held sixth and third respectively after dressage. Kitty’s fast clear, just two seconds outside the time, ensured that Britain have three scores in the bag ahead of tomorrow’s showjumping (26 September).
Kitty set out on a score of 24.1 on Vendredi Biats, a 12-year-old owned by Diana Bown, Sally Eyre, Samantha Wilson and Sally Lloyd-Baker. This was the drop score for Britain at this stage, despite being in eighth place after dressage, signalling just how powerful Britain’s team is at this championships.
The grey was bold and brave, but nimble where he needed to be, such as when fiddling to shorten his big stride at the Flower Box arrowheads at fence 10ab.
“I got us in a bit of a hole at the double of arrowheads but he got me out and he was pretty much foot-perfect everywhere,” said Kitty. “I didn’t give him the best ride through so he had to bunny-hop over and that slowed us down a bit. I wanted to make sure I got the next few right, to give him confidence again. That’s cross-country, it’s never perfect and we have to help each other out, and hopefully I helped him in other places.”
Kitty was reserve for the Olympics and referred to the pressure to perform: “With all the build-up to Tokyo, I was desperate to deliver and show we are good enough. He felt absolutely fantastic.”
European Eventing Championships cross-country: Jung rides the wave
Germany’s second rider Michael Jung put his team’s challenge back on track after compatriot Andreas Dibowski was slower than he had hoped. Michael put a fall from Fischerwild Wave on their last international run behind him to complete this phase on his seventh-placed dressage of 23.9. It was economical and neat (despite the horse’s boots flapping), and they finished easing up 11 seconds inside the time.
“I’m very happy with Fischerwild Wave – he’s a young horse but he is amazing and has a lot of talent in all three disciplines,” said Michael. “Today in the cross-country he showed how light and easy he is galloping, he has super endurance and a lot of scope. He just needs a bit more experience for the bigger and tougher courses, but he’s really fast. He can be funny just at the start box, but when you start he is super.
“At the beginning [of this track] you have to go forward, but then I saw I was super inside the time so I took a long route at 24. He is a very big horse [17hh], very sensitive, with a lot of blood, but he is focused and calm, not stressed.”
France, third after dressage, needed a finishing score after Gwendolen Fer’s fall, albeit with their number one Jean-Lou Bigot completing inside the time. Their third rider Stanislas De Zuchowicz delivered when he piloted another nine-year-old, Covadys De Triaval, clear for 14 time-faults. This was another confident and impressive round from a young horse at championship level.
“After Gwen’s fall, I had to finish,” said Stanislas. “The game wasn’t to try and chase the Germans and the English, which might lead to making a mistake, but to prevent those behind us from catching up. So Thierry [Touzaint, team trainer] said, ‘if you pick up 15 faults, it’s not too serious’.
“I lost a bit of time at the start, at the coffin, he was looking into the ditch, but he jumped perfectly throughout,” he added. “I did have a huge slip on a tight turn [on the flat], and I knew I couldn’t have a fall. Maxime [Livio] will have to be the same even though he is in the running for an individual medal – it’s about getting a safe round for the team first and foremost.”
At this stage, after three team riders have completed, just five have gone round inside the time – three of whom are British (Piggy March, Izzy Taylor and Nicola Wilson.
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Event rider Kitty King introduces Vendredi Biats, who she rode to seventh at the 2019 European Championships, and talks about
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