Richard and his home-bred 16-year-old gelding, who he owns with Gwendolyn Sontheim, scored 68.85% after Bubblingh had some tense moments throughout the test.
“It’s not what I was dreaming about, but I’m also not surprised because Bubblingh is a delicate character in his brain and nerves,” said Richard.
“He wasn’t easy at the beginning and we had a few miscommunications, but equally he came back and he suddenly received the messages and he delivered some nice stuff. I’m fascinated in training horses like Bubblingh – they’re not the easiest, and he’s complex, but that’s why I do it.”
The World Dressage Championships marks Richard’s first championship in a decade. Twenty years ago he rode Bubblingh’s mother Ballaseyr Royale at the 2002 Jerez World Equestrian Games.
“She was complex, but she was a stronger character [than Bubblingh]. She wasn’t so bothered about what’s going on, whereas he’s a little bit nervous,” he said.
“It’s been a very interesting journey Gwendolyn and I have been on with his mother, and now we are on the journey with Bubblingh. Obviously the score and the mistakes are disappointing, but it’s a journey and we really enjoy it. The score hasn’t dampened my enjoyment in the least. I’ve been around long enough doing this, I know the expectations and I’m thoroughly relying on these three lovely teammates I’ve got to go and pull out some very high scores. I know they’ll do that.”
Discussing his relationship with the Lingh son, an emotional Richard struggled to put into words the bond he has with Bubblingh.
“He is complex and he’s nervous. I’ve been very fortunate and privileged to go to the big championships, and I don’t take that for granted which is why I’m so thrilled to be here,” he said.
“But I see my role now as helping that horse through that situation – and he does need help. I don’t mind doing that, it keeps me going. I want to know what’s going on inside his head. I do think we have a bond. It’s normally my wife that is very emotionally attached, I’m a professional and we have to sell horses and we understand horses come and go – but it’s a journey for all sorts of reasons and not least with Gwendolyn, who had faith in me more than 20 years ago.”
The second Brit to ride is Gareth Hughes and Classic Briolinca, scheduled to compete at 7pm local time (6pm BST). Home side rider Nanna Merrald Rasmussen is currently leading the World Dressage Championship results with Blue Hors Zack on 76.72% as the opening day of the grand prix continues.
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