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French takes lead in eventing Olympic test

July 5, 2011

by Lulu Kyriacou

The dressage phase of the London Olympic Equestrian Test Event finished on Monday afternoon with Britain's Piggy French flying into a commanding lead.

Dressage leaders Piggy French and DHI Topper. © Lulu Kyriacou
In second place is Australia's Clayton Fredericks on Bendigo who scored 40.9 but that created a yawning gap of six penalties behind Piggy's 34.7 show stopper, which included a 10!

French, riding DHI Topper, will be hoping the end result is better for her than the last time the leading pair locked horns. French had a good lead at Samur three weeks ago but two rails in the show jumping gave Fredericks the honours on that occasion.

In third place in Germany's World Champion, Michael Jung with a less experienced horse, River of Joy, with Sweden's Sara Algotsson Ostholt on Mrs Medicott fourth.

"Greenwich is such a unique location and there's a huge buzz about it - it seems a very horse-friendly place!" French said.

Fredericks was delighted with how well his horse handled the atmosphere, especially since Bendigo may be his mount for London 2012.

"I deliberately brought him here with next year in mind," he said. "And this is a great opportunity to get all of our officials together and to do some team-building - we Australians don't often get an opportunity to do that," he said.

The floor of the arena in use for this week's event is a plywood platform supported by a steel and aluminium frame. It can also be installed without any digging taking place, because the adjustable 'legs' for the platform can be placed directly onto the ground, although some sand may be used to ensure the decking is level. Because of the ecological and archaeological sensitivities of the Park, the usual cut and fill process, which is often used when building for equestrian events, will not be used.

Third-placed Michael Jung said River of Joy does a good test normally, "but a score of 41 is not so good, a bit disappointing." He said the arena's custom-designed platform was "interesting ground. It feels soft and horse-friendly."

The cross country begins today at 11am local time.



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