The day was a major triumph for British eventing — until the awful news at the close of competition that Harry Meade’s Wild Lone had collapsed and died after finishing the course.
“I’m very happy and proud of my horse, but I’m devastated by Harry’s news,” said William. “With him being in the team and a close friend, it’s hard to celebrate much.”
The soft going was just as tough as anyone expected — although Harry was at pains to state he did not feel this was connected to Wild Lone’s death — and no one made the 10min 32sec optimum time.
William finished with 12.8 time-faults after a fantastic round on Christopher Stone’s Chilli Morning, whose only risky moment was at the final water fence, where the step up with a bounce to a skinny fish was influential all day.
“Yogi Breisner said there was no point going well until the eight minute marker and then not getting home and he was right,” said William. “Chilli came home jumping well, but I’ve never finished a course on him as tired as that. He was amazing at the last water.”
Fellow British team members Tina Cook (Jim Chromiak’s De Novo News) and Zara Phillips (Trevor Hemmings’ High Kingdom) also jumped clear, with Tina lying 13th (17.6 time-faults) and Zara 14th (14.4 time-faults).
“The ground really is soft — you’ve just got to look after them out there because they don’t travel as easily as they normally do,” said Zara. “The first bit is really intense, then there are longer stretches where you can back off them a bit.”
Tina said: “The main thing was to make sure you had enough horse to get over the last water. Yogi [Breisner, British eventing performance manager] did say to think about going the long route if he was tired so I had to make an executive decision, but I decided to go straight and he was very good.”
At the end of the day it looked like Britain would be in team silver overnight behind the Germans, but Ingrid Klimke was then given 20 penalties on the scoreboard, which had also briefly appeared during her round. Ingrid had a wild ride through the first water on FRH Escada JS and could have been given the penalties either for presenting to the third part before taking the alternative or crossing her tracks at this point. At the time of publication, these result had not been officially confirmed. Update at 10pm: Britain in team silver
In the individual race, the German dressage leader Sandra Auffarth now sits second after 16.8 time-faults on Opgun Louvo.
“I watched this morning and talked to the German riders. I saw the difficult fences and that the time was of secondary importance,” said Sandra. “I tried to get in a good rhythm and have a good round because they needed me for the team.”
New Zealand and USA drop out
The teams who lay second and third after dressage failed to record a team score today. For New Zealand, Mark Todd had a fall at the final water with Leonidas and Tim Price was pulled up on a very tired Wesko two fences from home. With team chances gone, Jock Paget retired Clifton Promise after an early run-out and decided to head to Burghley with the horse.
The bright spots for New Zealand were individual Jonelle Price recording the fastest round of the day — four time-faults on Classic Moet — for fourth and Andrew Nicholson slotting into fifth with the second-fastest (7.2 time-penalties).
“I haven’t had her that long so I didn’t go out with much of a plan, just to see how she answered the questions and see how she went, but she kept answering them and travelling well,” said Jonelle.
Andrew said: “Nereo is probably the most experienced horse here, but he’s a big powerful sort who likes top of the ground. He’s not the ideal type for deep going — I’m proud of him.”
The USA’s challenge was also over after the first two riders — Buck Davidson pulled up a tiring Ballynoe Castle RM, who had problems at the final water, and Phillip Dutton had a similar experience earlier on course with Trading Aces.
The only British rider who did not complete the course was Oliver Townend. His ride, Karyn Schuter’s Black Tie II, prefers firmer going and Oliver pulled him up after a couple of problems.
Nicola Wilson, the second British individual, had a great round with 18 time-faults on her parents Mary and Barry Tweddle’s Annie Clover. She lies 11th.
“She was just mega — straight and on a line and she had it all sussed out before we even got there,” said Nicola.
Keep checking horseandhound.co.uk for more from WEG. Full report on the eventing in the magazine out this Thursday, 4 September.