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WEG eventing: disappointing mark for Zara Phillips, first British team member

Zara Phillips scored 54.5 to get Great Britain off to a slightly disappointing start in the eventing dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

“I’m a bit annoyed — obviously I’d have liked to have been in the 40s,” she said after her test on Trevor Hemmings’ High Kingdom (pictured).

High Kingdom broke at the start of the medium trot and having trended around 70% (which would give a final penalty score of 45) before this, her marks never really rose to such heights again.

“You would hope at a championship you wouldn’t be punished for a mistake if another movement is good afterwards,” said Zara. “He actually did everything I asked — he does some nice work, although he’s not a flashy horse. He went so much better than in Aachen, but got a worse score.”

However, all the riders today are emphasising that this will not be a dressage competition. Heavy rain showers continue today at Haras du Pin and the going is already soft on the long cross-country course. View pictures of cross-country fences.

“Perhaps my mark is the price of going early, but hopefully that’ll be a benefit on Saturday — I hope it keeps raining!” added Zara. “It’s a tough track; I felt like I’d walked Burghley yesterday.”

Germany’s Michael Jung lies in pole position after the first tranche of team riders, despite riding reserve horse FischerRocana FST after his 2010 world champion La Biosthetique-Sam FBW had to be withdrawn last week. He scored 40.7 with a relaxed, soft performance.

Although the going in the arena is sloppy, competitors say it is riding well.

“It’s not slippery,” confirmed Michael. “At the beginning the horses look at the ground because of the water splashing up, but the going is ok.”

Buck Davidson — trailblazer for the USA and for the whole competition — lies second with 48.7 on Ballynoe Castle RM, who performed a smooth test.

Mark Todd is in third for New Zealand after a mark of 49.2 with Leonidas II.

“Some bits he did really well, but there were a couple of stupid mistakes,” said Mark. “I’m not disappointed with him, but for a horse who can get distracted there’s a lot going on in there.”

American individual Sinead Halpin had a “blonde moment” with an error of course in the canter, but sits in fourth with 50.8 on Manoir De Carneville.

“There were moments where the arena and the crowd picked him up and I actually started to have bit of fun in there,” she said.

Australian team member Sam Griffiths holds fifth (53.3) with Paulank Brockagh.

“We made a couple of mistakes at the end in the flying changes, but apart from that she couldn’t have gone better, though I’m a bit disappointed with the mark,” said Sam.

The pair won Badminton this spring in similar conditions to those here and Sam said other riders are joking that the weather is playing into his hands.

“It’s going to be a tough track and taxing for the horses, but if any horse can handle it, my mare can,” added Sam.

Britain’s second team rider, William Fox-Pitt (Chilli Morning) performs at 3.36pm local time (2.36pm British time), while British individual Nicola Wilson (Annie Clover) goes at 4.40pm local time (3.40pm British time).

Live scores

Full report on the WEG eventing in H&H magazine, out Thursday, 4 September.

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