One of my favourite things at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is the fact each competition area has a “kiss and cry area”. It’s a brilliant name. This is somewhere your supporters stand while you are performing, so that the cameras can catch every gasp and back seat driver kick. Here at the vaulting, the vaulters themselves have to go there after their test, watch the next one, and then have their reaction recorded when their score is announced.
Britain’s Lucy Phillips was the best yesterday, giving a huge grin when she learnt she had scored over eight for the first time ever for her freestyle. She joins Joanne Eccles in the female individual technical test later this afternoon, Britain’s individual male Ross Foreman having just performed.
Talking of crying, I keep hearing about tears down at the paradressage yesterday. It seems riders, supporters, spectators, press and press officers were all joining in — and who can blame them when you hear the inspirational stories about what these riders go through. Sometimes daily life is a real challenge, and yet they don’t complain, but come back fighting time and again to compete on the world stage.
You hear great stories in the able-bodied sports too. Apparently the Australian showjumper Chris Chugg’s mount Vivant has made a comeback from a broken pelvis — something about his wife tying him to a tree outside her office so she could keep an eye on him while he recuperated? Oh yes, and Chris likes to do a pirouette to celebrate before leaving the arena when he jumps well.
The driving has started here at WEG too and it’s the marathon tomorrow after two days of dressage. It’s scheduled like a ridden three-day event so tomorrow is effectively cross-country day, when the drivers will take on a series of obstacles around the Kentucky Horse Park. There’s no such thing as a clear inside the time — drivers receive penalties for the time taken in each obstacle, so the aim is to be as fast as possible and “win” each obstacle.
One of the obstacles is in the same water as the Land Between The Lakes cross-country fence, but there’s been a whole re-styling there since last Saturday — the island with the jump back into the water has gone and there are lots of big posts in it for the “gates” the drivers have to negotiate (above left).
In an attempt to gain the whole American experience, we headed out for breakfast this morning at a Waffle House. I got a trifle confused by the many choices offered by the menu — I had to ask the waitress to explain all the different ways I could have my eggs, and then I thought I was getting my eggs with a waffle. But it turned out they came with toast and hash browns, and I got the waffle on another plate, ready to be covered in maple syrup. I ended up with rather more food than I expected (above right) — I didn’t find it a huge problem, but I don’t think I need any lunch either…
Reports on vaulting, paradressage and driving at WEG in H&H next week, out 14 October.