The British rider, who was second after dressage, was going well with her world champion until the final water, when the 16-year-old horse seemed not to see the arrowhead in at fence 28a. He ran past it and then had a further run-out at the triple brush arrowhead at fence 29.
“I think he probably got weary and a bit demoralised by the twisting and turning, with the size of horse he is,” said Ros.
“This was a twistier track than Strzegom [2017 Europeans] and places like that, and he is a Badminton and Burghley horse. I think the knock-on effect probably meant his eyes were just running on the floor a bit and not up. He was amazing until then. But he did start to feel weary out of that second water – he was still galloping well, obviously, but galloping is what he finds easy.”
Ros also said the horse’s interrupted programme this year as the travelling alternate for the British team at the Tokyo Olympics may have played a part in his fitness.
She said: “The 10 days before Tokyo we were in quarantine and it was fairly controlled exercise there. He went to Tokyo and it was controlled exercise there. He came home and had two quiet weeks because he had to recover. That’s probably eaten away in my fitness, in hindsight, but could I have done much more? I couldn’t have got that month back,
“He hasn’t run a big three-day since the World Equestrian Games three years ago so probably all those things put together meant he just switched off a bit. And I can’t blame him for that.”
Ros said she would need to look back at the video to see the detail of what happened at the fences.
“I don’t think I prepared him differently to how I would normally – everyone said he looked a bit numb in the bridle three fences before, but that’s a very normal feeling for Alby,” she said. “It’s not uncommon for me to have that feeling in the mouth. And he can be the type of horse that doesn’t feel like he’s clocked a fence and he always has and jumps it.”
Summing up in her normal level-headed fashion, Ros concluded: “It’s not really like him but I’ve had a great run this year, I’ve had a fantastic run with Alby, I still love him to bits and I still think he’s got some big runs left in him. It’s going to do him good ready for next year. And thanks goodness for my team-mates!”
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