She and the syndicate-owned Arctic Soul scored 32.4 to lie seventh after the first rotation of team riders had all performed their tests. The only obvious glitch in their test was one below-par flying change.
“I was over the moon with him, but the judges were very stingy,” she said. “He kept his cool and let me ride him.”
Gemma said that team morale is high in the British camp: “All the horses are on really good form and we all get on like a house on fire. We bounce off each other well. We’ve been eating together, gyming together, running together, stretching together.”
Speaking about acting as the team pathfinder spot, Gemma said: “When I was selected with Arctic Soul I realised this was going to be my place, although we didn’t know for sure until Monday. I’m more than happy — I think we have a great partnership and plenty of experience and hopefully we can go out and do the job.”
France’s Donatien Schauly holds the lead at this early stage with a confident, consistent test on the the experienced 15-year-old mare Pivoine Des Touches. His score of 29.3 puts him 0.4 of a mark ahead of New Zealand’s Blyth Tait with Dassett Courage.
“I’m very pleased with him — he hasn’t got much experience at this level, so it was a big ask for him, but he let me really ride him,” said Blyth. “Always when you come out you wish you’d done more, but I guess it was sensible not to rock the boat as the first team member.”
Andrew Hoy sits third for Australia on Vassily De Lassos, just 0.1 of a penalty behind Blyth.
“He could not have done one step better for where he’s at at the moment — he’s improving every day and when I went in, I could feel he was growing to the atmosphere and occasion,” said Andrew.
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Britain’s next team member into the arena is Piggy French, who rides Quarrycrest Echo at 1.47pm local time (6.47pm British time).
Horse & Hound has two journalists and a photographer in Tryon for WEG. Keep up to date with all the news onand in the magazine issues dated 20 and 27 September.