|Team GBR Selections Reflect The Importance Of Dressage|
The formalities of the World Equestrian Games Eventing trot-up are now over, so it’s time to draw a line in the sand between each nation, and get on with the serious business of winning. Team GBR’s Nicola Wilson will be the first to kick off the competition tomorrow morning at 9:00AM sharp, on her wonder horse, Opposition Buzz. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is one fabulous horse to watch go cross country, and Nicola has spent the last year improving her dressage, with much success. Her win at Barbury CIC*** sealed the decision for her inclusion in this WEG team.
Both this WEG and the last one, at Aachen, have very large arenas, more reminiscent of a sandy baseball field than a horse stadium, but judging by how well the pure dressage has gone over the last few days, I don’t think this will phase the horses much more they get phased at any of the big 4 star competitions.
All the teams, and individuals have now been announced and looking through the list I don’t really see any serious surprises in any of the teams. The only shock being the sad withdrawal of Kim Severson’s grey due to infection, being replaced with Karen O’Connor. Reading between the lines, listening to The Captain in an audio interview, you could tell this was just one of many headaches Mark has faced in the run-up to tomorrow’s competition.
|Pippa Funnell | Worth Watching|
Meanwhile the British eventers seem, particularly pleased, although the same can’t be said of the Chef D’ Mission, Will Connell! The event horses have all travelled well, looking in very good order in the trot-up, and are delivering good performances in their work-outs. Of all the nations that have a chance of winning a medal, it’s the British that I think have had the best build-up to these games. They announced their squad early, got together regularly, and performed together as a team in public (at Blenheim). A few of the other teams, notably the Australians, have had team members scattered around the world, and having to piggy back on one another’s training sessions.
Judging by the reactions to the cross country course, and the predictability of the team selections, dressage is going to be the most influential phase here, and as with any 4 star event if you’re not in the top 15 after dressage, you’re unlikely to have a shot the podium. So more than ever, as Frank Weldon would say – “It’s not what you win, it’s who you beat” (he also said “Just because it’s been like that for the last 20 yrs, doesn’t mean it can’t change” whatever that’s supposed to mean here). The point though is, I think there are a number of riders at a distinct disadvantage because they are not used to competing against the best in the world on a regular basis.
With the optimum time for the cross country being over 11 mins, every good dressage mark counts, as the biggest climbers up the leader board do so on cross country day at the expense of others’ time faults, or rushed errors, which is almost impossible to claw back on the Sunday. The cross country course is the biggest ever seen in the states, but not the biggest that many of these riders tackle year in year out.
|No Ridiculous Bibs Please!|
As far as predictions go for leaders after the dressage, I think the top 5, will include, 2 British, at least one German, an American, and possibly an Australian, Swede, New Zealander or Canadian. As for the one’s I’ll be most interested in watching; Pippa Funnell, Andrew Nicholson, Sonja Johnson, and Phillip Dutton.
One thing is for certain, there’ll be no ridiculous bibs over the next two days…….sadly they’re bound to make an appearance on Saturday.
Oh, and if you are at WEG and spot William Fox-Pitt before his dressage test, remind him not to be late please! (he’ll know what you mean)