On Thursday it was sunburn, Friday it was windburn, resulting in a nice glow on my face by the end of the day.
Watching the leading riders during the press conference added to that – all three antipodean riders were relaxed and did a good job of talking to the media. Normally all three riders are on the stage at the same time, but today took a more relaxed approach due to timing issues with getting those three great blokes in the same room at the same time.
Andrew was there on time, ready to go, with things to do so he kick started proceedings while the other two made their way to the media centre. Andrew’s approach to media is far more relaxed nowadays than it was even 7-8 years ago, maybe due to the large amount of practice he has been having lately. He talked easily and at length about his horses, about his views of the course (some very hard bits!) and did a great job of charming everyone.
The Aussies were also relaxed and gave some good quotes to the media, some who were very disappointed that there were no British riders to talk to. When the timing of the press conference was announced earlier, one British journalist asked if the fourth placegetters could be available as well – ie WFP and Aoife Clarke.
But Im’ getting ahead of myself. We had a bit of a rush on in the morning with so many Kiwi riders so close together. This was because all but one of the Kiwi riders competing on two horses, so they came early on in the draw and then will appear again on Saturday afternoon when again, there will be a rush on.
Technology has not been my friend this trip. The plan of being able to use my iphone to give regular, ring side updates has been totally foiled by the absolute failure of being able to get a strong enough signal to get internet access. Sending texts and phone calls is fine, but no go with the internet. I’m not the only one, there are many complaints around the grounds. I’ve got a good team of keen volunteers helping bring all the information to the Eventing NZ facebook and twitter accounts, so with some help from New Zealand via Samantha Felton updating from the on-line live scoreboard, and some great assistance from UK based kiwi, Vicki Glynn, we did manage to get information out for all the many fans all over the world. We have some great videos of the Kiwi riders’ dressage tests but unfortunately have been totally unable to get them loaded.
So, instead of being able to watch the videos of the dressage, you’ll have to make do with my opinions as well as the judges’ scoring.
Andrew’s test was lovely with the exception of a complete muck up of the transition from rein back to walk to canter (which Andrew took the blame for) but he recovered like the true professional he is and still ended up with a score worthy of third place. Jock’s test was also very good, and in my opinion, he wasn’t treated as well as I would have thought by the scoreboard. Caroline’s test was not up in the high scoring ones, she’s currently 27th= on Boston Two Tip. He was a bit tense, perhaps overwhelmed by the situation.
Lucy Jackson’s Willy Do also seemed to be adversely affected by the huge atmosphere, not producing up to his potential, leaving them in 34th position. Then there was Mark Todd. Major Milestone is more renowned for his jumping than his dressage and today was certainly no exception. At one stage it looked like he was going to jump out of the arena, but Mark managed to keep him in the arena and finish as best he could. In 37th place with a lot of ground to make up.
Mark is so relaxed about this event. He hadn’t even walked the cross country in its entirety and wasn’t at all worried. I just hope he doesn’t miss out one fence that could easily be cantered past – aptly named after the Alzheimers Research UK fence (the Badminton Horse Trials nominated charity). When I saw him signing fans’ autographs in the Mark Todd Collection tent, he promised me he was going off after that to walk the course properly.
There were a lot more people there today, and the shops were doing a roaring trade. I’ve yet to get the visa card out with one exception, it was a lot colder today, so the Mark Todd Collection jacket on sale was a very useful purchase that didn’t need to go in a carry bag. Looking forward to Saturday, that’s when the dressage scoreboard will change and change again. The leader could well be the last horse, Pippa Funnell’s Redesigned, although I’m picking that the leader will be the second to last horse to go – a certain athletic chestnut known as Nereo! Go the Kiwis!
Images below © Jane Thompson
» More photos here