The world number one and Jean-Louis Stauffer’s 10-year-old put in one of 13 clear rounds inside the time over Ian Stark’s track today.
“I just really tried to be patient with him so that he could find his way and not feel like he was under too much pressure and he was great,” said Tim.
The New Zealand rider was one of the last to go today over the Maryland 5 Star cross-country track, so he knew that the time was very achievable before he set out.
“I always have a policy that I start in a nice quiet rhythm, I build it in the middle and I reap the harvest at the end and that’s what I do on all my horses, but I just exaggerated that a little bit more and was very slow at the start and just let him pop around a bit,” he said.
Tim said that the horse helped him out at the last water, the Mars Sustainability Bay at fences 23ab and 24abc.
He explained: “All the horses have been popping in there over that crab with no problems, so my original plan was to gee him up a bit coming up to crab to make sure we got in there but I didn’t feel I needed to do that. So I just lobbed up there, but it left me in a bit of a no man’s land feeling canter and so when I went to put him together, he just kept lobbing along.
“I just stuffed it up, really. But he sorted it out and got us in there and through it no trouble, so I couldn’t be more happy with him. He’s such a young talent and I’m pleased that’s vindicated bringing him here.”
“He’s amazing, because even the best horses I’ve ridden around these five-stars come home strong and a bit tanky and the strides gone long and then you just have to manage them home. Whether it’s his inexperience, not knowing himself in that scenario, but he came home so controlled.
“I jumped off the bank [at fence 26c] and we’ve walked that a 100 times, talked to all the riders and it’s a short four strides to get that job done. You have to be quite in control. I just jumped off there and he just balanced and he added a fifth stride. It was just like child’s play then to go on four strides to the last element, safe as a house. So that wasn’t to plan, but it was a really nice thing to happen.”
Tim moved up from second because the dressage leader, young home side rider Woods Baughman, collected 20 penalties at the final element of the Mars Sustainability Bay water, as C’est La Vie became increasingly exuberant and difficult to ride towards the end of the course.
“I knew when we bounced the in of the rail-ditch-log that things were about to go really south,” said Woods. “He just doesn’t like to slow down. He gets on such a massive stride that I think he feels a bit indestructible. It’s not even that he’s going that fast, it’s just he gets so big he doesn’t fit anything any more [in terms of strides in distances].”
US rider Allie Knowles was third after dressage with Morswood, but dropped down to ninth with 6.4 time-faults.
“He did literally everything I asked. I’m frustrated that I had time because in hindsight, I could have made up 15 seconds time somewhere. It was mine to lose and I lost that placing, which is frustrating, but relatively I’m very green at the five-star level – I’ve done it less than 10 times and this is the fastest time I’ve been yet so at least we’re heading in the right direction and that horse is just unbelievable,” she said.
France’s Astier Nicolas lost his fourth place after the first phase when he and Babylon De Gamma had a stop at the second of the Sport Corp Corners – open left-handed corners over water – at fence 21.
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