Leaderboard shake-up at Maryland 5 Star as experienced rider and first-timer impress

  • William Fox-Pitt has slotted into second place at the break during the second day of Mars Maryland 5 Star dressage.

    William showed off Amanda Gould’s Grafennacht even going around the white boards before his test, pushing her into a lovely trot extension. The inexperienced 11-year-old mare wanted to look around in the first halt but the rider quickly corrected her.

    She resisted slightly in the rein-back and the flying changes were less expressive and precise than some, but her consistent work was well rewarded with a score of 26.1. This puts William and Grafennacht second at this stage behind the overnight leaders, fellow Brit Piggy March and Brookfield Cavalier Cruise.

    “I am very pleased with ‘Lillie’ today – she did a very good test, and was very composed,” said William. “She was quite excited and quite forward going, so did well to contain herself. There were a couple of things obviously which could have been better, as always, but she is up there and she has got every chance.”

    Grafennacht is by Grafenstolz and out of Nachtigall, who was a prolific winner at British Eventing national level for Susan Eggleton, who then bred Grafennacht from her.

    Willliam is one of the most experienced riders here, with a record 14 five-star titles to his name. But a five-star debutant has impressed today too – the home side’s Jacob Fletcher, 29, was the first rider into the arena and scored 29.3 to hold fifth at this stage. Riding the attractive light bay Fabian, Jacob rode a confident consistent test, marred only by slightly sub-par first and third flying changes.

    “My five-star debut has been a long time coming – I’ve had several horses get qualified and it just hasn’t worked out, so it’s really exciting to get here,” said Jacob.

    “It’s the first show I’ve not cared how the dressage went after walking the cross-country. Maybe that was a good thing, I was less nervous. He was really good and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

    The second in was New Zealand’s Caroline Powell, who piloted Chris Mann’s neat, compact mare Greenacres Special Cavalier to a mark of 29. They fumbled their transition up to canter and the mare did not show much of the required stretch on the canter circle, but overall this was a strong performance from a young horse and Caroline currently sits fourth.

    “I’m really pleased with her – there’s a bit of atmosphere and she got a wee bit tight, but she kept her cool and did all the movements. She’s only 10 and she can only improve on that,” said Caroline.

    Oliver Townend will be the third and final Brit to perform in the Maryland 5 Star dressage when he takes to the arena at 3.27pm local time (8.27pm British time) riding Cooley Rosalent.

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