‘It won’t be a dressage competition’: Sarah Ennis pins hopes on strong cross-country rides after Ireland lag behind in dressage

  • Sarah Ennis wrapped up Ireland’s challenge in the Tokyo Olympic eventing competition after the Olympic eventing dressage phase, to lie 50th of the 62 competitors. Ireland will start cross-country in 13th place.

    “We are not exactly where we wanted to be after the dressage, but it will not be a dressage competition,” said Sarah, who scored 38.1 penalties. “We just have to hope the cross-country phase comes off well for us.

    “Time will be a massive factor. If the course causes the trouble we think and we have three go round, we could shoot up, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

    Sarah, 46, was riding the Irish-bred Woodcourt Garrison (Garrison Royal x Furisto). She started boldly with a lovely extended trot, but the horse unfortunately broke at the end of the diagonal.

    “He just gets so nervous and I can’t help him,” said Sarah, who reported the horse was going “amazingly” outside. “I thought he’d score nearer 30 but he didn’t feel on balance, and he was tense.

    “He’s a lovely character who loves to be loved, but his pet name is Tyson because he’s like a bull,” she added. “That can be beneficial in the other two phases.”

    French rider boosts defending champions’ team chances after Olympic eventing dressage

    Sarah was fourth-last to go, and followed the final team riders from Sweden (Ludwig Svennerstål), France (Karim-Florent Laghouag) and Italy (Arianna Schivo). Karim was the best of these, producing 32.4, close to the top 20.

    Karim, the only member of the French team that won gold in Rio, produced a fluent and forward test to score his country’s top score of 32.4 on Triton Fontaine. He finished with a huge smile, both arms in the air and a big hug for Triton Fontaine. France had started on the back foot after the first two riders, but Karim’s test secured ninth overnight.

    “I was satisfied with his test – there were no major errors and the horse went well,” Karim said. “I missed my last change, which cost me dearly at the end. I was thinking I’d score about 70% but I’ve done my job for the team which is the most important thing.

    “This horse is adorable and really brave. He is willing and powerful and always wants to work.”

    Balham Mist was slightly strong and behind the vertical, despite Ludwig’s best efforts to raise his outline. They scored 35 penalties, which allowed Japan to overtake Sweden ahead of the cross-country phase. Japan now sit fourth and Sweden fifth.

    “You always want to be in the lead after the dressage, but my horse’s strongest suit is not the dressage,” said Ludwig. “The mark was still acceptable, and the horse will be very good in the other disciplines.”

    Arianna Schivo rode her 17-year-old stalwart, Quefira De L’Ormeau, whom she has partnered at five championships. The mare started out in a light and active frame, but she became unsettled and fizzy in the intense canter section of the test and the marks deteriorated accordingly. They scored 42.9, leaving Italy last of the team placings.

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