Britain has two riders, Lee Rutter and Doug Allen, through to the individual final of the reining competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky.
The top 15 riders from the team competition on the weekend qualified for the final automatically, with the next 20 going through to the second chance qualifying competition today. Just the top five from this join the other competitors in Thursday afternoon’s final.
Britain’s Lee Rutter went in the final session this morning and scored 217.5 to take the lead. He held this through the final three riders, qualifying in the top position with the 12-year-old mare Setting Off Sparks.
“I had a good draw because I could see all the other scores, but I knew I had some work to do,” he said afterwards. “She felt great and never once thought about doing anything other than what I asked which is great for a reining horse. She’s an awesome mare.”
Fellow Brit Doug Allen had the second best score today, 216.5.
“I had a couple of penalties in the team competition — he wasn’t quite as good on the left circles and didn’t spin so good — and I cleaned those up, eliminating the weaknesses, and kept the manoeuvres which were strong good. Everything went according to plan,” he said of his ride on the eight-year-old stallion Don Julio Whiz.
“He was tired the other time so I didn’t ride him so hard before this and it’s longer from when I last rode him. He felt fresher, was crisper turning and was better in the left-hand circle.”
Both Doug and Lee’s horses belong to Rosanne Sternberg, sister of Doug’s wife and fellow British team member Francesca Sternberg, and they have only been riding them for three or four weeks.
Mistake puts third Brit out of running
Francesca was also through to today’s qualifier, but she suffered a disappointment when six-year-old mare Slidin Like A Yankee backed up at the start of her first spin, which is heavily penalised.
“I think she was just trying too hard,” she said. “She was going backwards and if you do more than four steps back you are eliminated, so I had to kick her on and that messed up the manoeuvre. She’s a very good spinning horse so we should have plussed that manoeuvre, instead of minused it.
“I probably dropped six points on that first spin, which shows how little room for error there is. I knew I was toast but just had to keep going. I’m sad because I was a finalist at Aachen [2006 WEG] so I would have liked to have been a finalist here.”
However, she paid tribute to her mare, saying: “She’s not a world class athlete like some others here, but her heart is bigger than any horse here. As far as trying is concerned, she’s a medallist in my opinion.”
Today’s other qualifiers were Sweden’s Fredrick Thomsson (Gallos Stylish Star), the Netherland’s Hubertus Heule (Crome Shiner) and Australia’s Warren Backhouse (Whizs Bronze Star).
The individual final starts at 1pm (6pm British time) on Thursday afternoon.
Log back onto www.horseandhound.co.uk to read about the individual final on Thursday and full report on the individual reining in H&H out 7 October. Team reining in the issue out 30 September.