Britain’s William Fix-Pitt has taken an early lead on Chilli Morning after the first day of dressage for the eventing competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at Le Pin National Stud.
Fox-Pitt and the chestnut stallion scored the only sub-40 mark, 37.5, to head defending champion Michael Jung and the mare FischerRocana FST by 3.2 penalties.
It was the best test the 2013 individual European silver medal-winning horse had ever performed, with the judges loving his expressive and correct canter work which they rewarded with a plethora of 8s. Fox-Pitt’s riding also drew a couple of 9s.
“I’m very relieved that we nailed the test,” said Fox-Pitt, who was individual silver medallist and a member of the winning British team in Kentucky in 2010. “He’s a lovely horse to ride on the flat and he coped really well in that arena. It was gloomy and wet and soggy.”
Jung’s good score on the relatively inexperienced nine-year-old FischerRocana FST and Ingrid Klimke’s mark of 41.2 on another mare, FRH Escada JS, despite losing marks for a tense walk and early canter strike-off, puts Germany in the lead at this early stage.
“I’m very happy,” said Jung. “My horse was relaxed and didn’t make too many mistakes. She also concentrated. The arena wasn’t slippery, but horses were looking at the ground because of the rainwater in the arena.”
“She is very easy and relaxed and she did not make too much mistakes, she was very concentrated and she is very nice to ride. The arena was not slippery, but in the beginning she was looking at the ground and the water,” Jung said.
The New Zealand team is currently second, ahead of Great Britain and the USA, with one penalty covering the three nations.
Tim Price (NZL) is in individual fourth place on his Luhmühlen CCI4* winner Wesko with a mark of 42.0. “He’s young and that showed in his halts,” Price said.
“He is a young horse at this level . . . but he just put his best foot forward and his general way of going was amazing. I am really excited about what he is going to be able to produce in the future.”
Mark Todd, a team bronze medallist in 2010, is 10th on Leonidas ll on a score of 49.2.
Todd explained: “He was OK, when I went in there and there was all this clapping and everything, he just got a bit distracted and I lost him a couple of times. Probably made just too many mistakes to get a really good mark.
“Some bits we did really really well, I am not disappointed, it’s just one of those things, he is not used to this atmosphere. When you first go in it is quite noisy, there is a lot going on, and then under the chateau there are people moving around so for a horse that does get distracted there is quite a lot going on. It’s not electric but there is a lot going on around them to get distracted,” Todd said.
“It’s sloppy out there, he was splashing around out there, when it is like that he gets in this big lopey galloping stride and it makes it hard to get him to do some of the work.”
The Netherlands’ Elaine Pen exited the arena with a huge smile, delighted with her score of 42.3 for fifth aboard Vira. Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces are the best of the USA in sixth, while Bill Levett is flying the flag for Australia in seventh aboard Shannondale Titan.
Cédric Lyard (FRA) is best of the home side, in seventh place on Cadeau du Roi with a score of 47.3. “I’m really happy with my horse,” he said. “Cadeau concentrated really well and was expressive. I wanted to get the best marks I possibly could for the French team and I feel that I achieved that.”
The 2006 world champion Zara Phillips (GBR) didn’t get the British team off to the start she would have liked and admitted to being annoyed with her score of 54.5 on High Kingdom, which leaves her in 21st place.
“He broke in the medium trot and my marks didn’t come back up after that,” she said. “He does nice work but he’s not a flash horse. However, he’s a real galloper and I’m hoping to bring some good feedback for the others when I go out first across country on Saturday. It’s a long way round and if it stays wet then the dressage scores won’t matter as much.”
The British team is hoping that the wet weather will play to their strengths on Saturday’s cross country day, which riders of all nations anticipate will re-arrange the scoreboard.
Results after first day of Dressage
1. William Fox-Pitt/Chilli Morning (GBR) 37.5
2. Michael Jung/FischerRocana FST (GER) 40.7
3. Ingrid Klimke/FRH Escada JS (GER) 41.2
4. Tim Price/Wesko (NZL) 42.0
5. Elaine Pen/Vira (NED) 42.3
6. Philip Dutton/Trading Aces (USA) 43.8
7. Bill Levett/Shannondale Tital (AUS) 44.7
8. Nicola Wilson/Annie Clover (GBR) 46.0
9. Cédric Lyard/Cadeau du Roi (FRA) 47.3
10. Sarah Ennis/Horseware Stellor Rebound (IRL) 48.5