Tom McEwen and Toledo De Kerser, members of Britain’s gold medal-winning team at the 2018 World Equestrian Games, are in the lead after the second day of dressage (Friday, 25 October) at the French CCI5* at Pau.
They scored 25, which gives them an advantage of just 0.6 of a penalty over second-placed Tim Price and Wesko.
“That was brilliant,” said Tom, who missed the European Championships with the 12-year-old son of Diamant De Semilly after the horse fell over and scraped himself in the build-up. “It was uphill, soft, fluent and light. It’s amazing to be in the lead among some really stiff competition.”
It is the first time Tom has led the dressage at CCI5* level. He and 12-year-old Toledo De Kerser, who is owned by Fred and Penny Barker, Jane Inns and Tom’s mother Ali, scored marginally better at Badminton this spring — 24.7, which left them fourth there after the first phase.
“He feels in mega form — really fit and ready to run,” said Tom. “The cross-country track is twisty but flows well. There are some really big fences and positive lines, and it will take some riding.”
New Zealand’s Tim Price scored 25.6 aboard The Windrush Equestrian Foundation’s 16-year-old Wesko, already a winner at CCI5* level at Luhmühlen in 2014. Tim is also seventh on his first ride, the grey mare Ascona M, with 28.1.
British riders hold the next three places. Tied in third are the reigning world champion Ros Canter, riding her own 15-year-old Zenshera, and Gemma Tattersall with Jalapeño, both of whom scored 27.2.
“He’s a real professional now in the dressage,” said Ros. “He’s a proper show-off and a trier. I’m cross with myself for messing up two flying changes, but he was tops.”
Gemma said: “I’m really pleased with her. All four flying changes were clean; she can drop behind my leg and I have to ‘force’ the change, and then you lose the straightness. She’s got so much ability in this phase; she’s so rideable and trainable.”
Gemma took over the ride on the 11-year-old Chilli Morning mare, who is owned by Christopher Stone, from Belgium’s Karin Donckers this season.
“Karin has done the most wonderful job,” said Gemma. “Everything is installed, but we had to fine-tune it for me. It hasn’t been completely straightforward but it’s just been a case of her getting to know what I want and me getting to know what makes her tick.”
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Sarah Bullimore is fifth on Conpierre, owned by her husband Brett, Anna Ross Davies and Christopher Gillespie, with a mark of 27.7.
“He was fabulous, really rideable and with me,” said Sarah. “He’s the kindest, loveliest person who loves to be with people and wouldn’t know how to put his ears back.”
In sixth are Australia’s Chris Burton and Quality Purdey on 27.8, 0.3 of a penalty ahead of Tim Price and Ascona M, with British pair Alex Bragg and Zagreb in eighth with 28.8.
The field of 42 start to go cross-country at 2pm French time on Saturday. In all there are 19 British-ridden horses, which also include second rides for Tom McEwen (Figaro Van Het Broekxhof, 11th with 31.9) and Gemma Tattersall (Chilli Knight, 13th with 32.7). Kirsty Johnston and Classic VI are in 18th place with 33.5, while Michael Owen is 20th on Jims Pal with a score of 34.1.
Check back for more news from Pau over the weekend. Full report in next week’s magazine (issue dated 31 October).