The 10-year-old, who is owned by his breeder Jean-Louis Stauffer, is making his five-star debut and in his first year competing with the New Zealand rider after starting his career with Chris Burton and then being ridden by Tim’s wife Jonelle last year.
“He’s a very talented horse. I really believe in him as a proper five-star horse – a Burghley and Badminton kind of horse and now Maryland, which I put in the same category as those other famous ones and that’s why he’s here,” said Tim.
“He’s inexperienced, but he’s here to get some education on the job. All I want from him in the dressage is to be relaxed, to show himself in the true light where he’s working and that’s what he did – a few mistakes, a bit unestablished, a bit comes and goes, but the quality underneath it all and the relaxation is what really makes me very happy with him.”
Tim added that the horse’s canter work is currently hampered by him being so “big behind” in this pace, but it will improve as his balance gets better.
The pair scored 27.4 to sit 0.2 of a penalty behind Woods Baughman and C’est La Vie 135, who took the lead yesterday and have held onto it today.
Alexandra Knowles – known as Allie – has moved into third with a personal best score at five-star of 28.8, riding Katherine O’Brien’s Morswood.
“We have definitely been working towards that – he’s always had it in him and he’s a much stronger horse this year,” said Allie, who finished 11th here in 2011 on this horse.
“Last year was his first year at the five-star level and he did a great performance, but he’s just more mature now, stronger in the hind end, stronger in his back and his self carriage is certainly more than it was before. So you know that kind of test is in there and you just sort of hope it comes out of the right moment – and it did.”
Allie described the chestnut as a “through and through ginger pony”.
“He’s a nuisance all the time, in the very best way,” she said. “He’ll follow us around like a dog, he’ll try to escape his stall. I came out of the ring and he was excited, then we hit the first blade of grass and his head’s on the ground, ready to eat. He is all heart and personality.”
Allie added that the 14-year-old is gentle with her nearly two-year-old daughter Addie, “but fierce on the cross-country”.
Now that the Maryland 5 Star dressage is over, attention turns to tomorrow’s cross-country phase, which starts at 2.06pm local time (7.06pm British time).
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