Great Britain is in fifth place at the halfway stage in the reining team competition at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games (WEG) after two solid runs from team debutantes Josh Collins and Jessica Sternberg (pictured top).
From an early draw, Josh Collins and Spook A Little gained plus scores on spins and circles before the 24-year-old gestured to the enthusiastic crowd to cheer even louder. They responded, urging him on to a big final sliding stop for a score of 216, which put him in individual 10th place overnight.
“My horse is good in every manoeuvre and I knew if he went as well here as he does in training, he would score well. This is a fantastic opportunity – I was determined to enjoy it and the audience support is fantastic,” said Josh.
Jessica Sternberg conjured a good performance from Smart Like Valentino, also scoring well on spins and circles, before a couple of tricky rundowns dropped her score down a notch, to 213.
“My own horse was injured just before the Games so I am lucky to have been offered Smart Like Valentino by my aunt Francesca (Sternberg),” Jessica explained. “I haven’t competed him since he was four, and the older horses can start to anticipate the rundowns, so we had a slight miscommunication.”
Top teams after day one
America is leading the team competition after each nation fielded two riders, with blistering runs from Andrea Fappani and Jordan Larson.
Italian-born Andrea Fappani, riding for his adopted nation for the first time, produced an incredible turn of foot on the large circles from Custom Cash Advance, prompting a maximum 1.5 score from one judge. There was some hesitation in the rundowns, but it was good enough to score 224 to lead the individual rankings.
“I have had very few outings on this horse and have been taking time to get to know him. He is very honest and my aim today was to maximise on his good points.”
Snapping at his heels, Ann Poels took Belgium to the silver medal position with some beautifully judged fast and slow circles and bold rundowns to big sliding stops for a score of 222.5 and individual second place overnight.
Germany lies in the bronze medal slot, just one point ahead of Australia in fourth.
Remaining British team members, husband and wife Doug Allen and Francesca Sternberg ride tomorrow morning and afternoon respectively, while individual Shane Borland also competes tomorrow afternoon.
This is the fourth time that reining has been part of WEG, attracting 82 entries from 24 nations, and drew the biggest crowd for the team competition to date. Newcomers to the discipline are struck by the wall of noisy cheers throughout each run from more seasoned spectators, which is anticipated and encouraged by the competitors.
More reining from WEG
Horse & Hound explains all you need to know to enjoy the reining in Normandy
British reiners gave the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games the thumbs up on day one of competition