Britain’s Wilf Bowman-Ripley lies seventh after the first day of driving dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
“I was really pleased considering I didn’t have my A team here. We had to change my leader and bring a borrowed horse into the team [Unique, owned by Brian and Wendy Embleton], so I was pleased with the result,” he said after scoring 54.8.
“I’m looking forward to the marathon; if we drive right the horses should be fast enough. It’s a really good course. It’s shorter than we normally drive, on a flat track, so it should be quite easy for the horses hopefully.”
The Dutch made a strong start today, with the first driver into the arena, Ijsbrand Chardon (above), notching up a mark of 42.12. He was never headed, with compatriot Koos de Ronde slotting into second on 46.25.
“The score was ok, but I had expected 38. It felt better than in Riesenbeck where I had 40,” said Ijsbrand.
The reigning world bronze medallist explained that he was unable to warm up as usual this morning. Usually, he drives a pair of horses, lunges one and rides the fourth.
“For all this I needed to start at 6am, but at 7.15am it was still dark,” he said. “I had to have one car in front and one behind the carriage to escort me to the training arena.”
Dick Lane, the first British competitor into the arena this morning, lies 18th on a score of 65.84 with his team of Lipizzaners.
“I was very pleased, although the atmosphere got to them a little bit,” he said. “In the second walk the horses can hear the crowd and they anticipated a bit.
“Other than that they coped well, I’m pleased they stood still [in the 8sec halt] and were basically obedient. We’ve been putting a lot of work in training with [British-based Australian reigning world champion] Boyd Exell.”
Dick said he was glad about his draw as it gives him all of tomorrow to focus on Saturday’s marathon.
“The obstacles may suit slightly smaller horses [Dick’s are about 15.1hh] as they are quite technical, although there is a good combination of open and flowing ones and some which are tigher,” he said. “My team are like naughty ponies and they also do indoor driving, so they are used to small obstacles.”
Driving teams consist of two or three competitors, with two scores to count. Some nations have already started two drivers, with others fielding one today and one or two tomorrow. Of the seven nations who have started two drivers, Britain lies in sixth. In all, there are 14 teams here.
More updates from WEG online all week; report on the driving in H&H magazine next week, out Thursday, 11 September.