Cross country proving influential at Blair Castle
The cross country course and weather is proving influential at the Longines FEI European Eventing Championships 2015 at Blair Castle.
Germany’s Michael Jung, going out as the second of the country’s team riders, put in a superb performance with FischerTakinou, highlighting why he is the reigning European and Olympic champion. The combination went clear and under the time to go into a commanding lead on a score of 33.5. After his round he said: “FischerTakinou is a very talented horse. He’s not had much experience and sometimes needs a little bit more help. But he’s very focused and concentrated well and gave me a great feeling. This is a very tough course but in the end he was so fast and that’s very nice to feel that.”
With the German’s first team rider Dirk Schrade on Hop and Skip going clear with just 5.2 time penalties, the reigning team championships still maintain their Gold medal position with two more riders to go – Sandra Auffarth and Ingrid Klimke.
The first British team member out on course was Kitty King with Persimmon. They put in a solid performance, going clear adding just 8.4 time penalties to their dressage score. Their score of 45.3 currently puts them in third place. She said: “I was asked to ride the course as I found it. I was asked to go long at the first water, just because it is a tough question and Percy can be a little feisty. I think they also wanted to find out how long it would take whether it was very costly so they could tell the other riders. The coffin was fairly eventful but we got through it. At the end of the day, as Yogi said, it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you go through the flags. But it was definitely a roller coaster going through there.”
The second British rider Nicola Wilson with One Two Many had an unfortunate run out at 16b – the UK Sport Corners in the main arena. Afterwards she expressed her disappointment, saying: “I’m absolutely gutted. When you ride for the team and have a mistake like that it’s just so galling. He was giving me a superb round and we were quite good on the clock as well. He just didn’t see it and it’s not like him all.”
The British team are now lying in Bronze medal position with two team members, Pippa Funnell and William Fox Pitt still to go cross country. France has moved into the Silver medal position – Thibault Vallette and Qing Du Briot have also moved into second place individually.
Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul, competing as an individual for Great Britain, had a storming round going clear inside the time. Their score of 47.3 puts them in 4th at present. She said: “Everything rode as I thought. He is just fantastic. For such a big thoroughbred horse he was just pop, pop, pop. The ground is getting muddy and they are cutting into it more than we thought. It’s quite slippery – I had massive show jumping studs in that they use on grass. I knew I could trust him to jump and turn.”
Another member of the British squad riding as an individual who went clear was Laura Collett on Grand Manoeuvre. Adding just 10.8 time penalties to their dressage score, their combined total of 48.6 penalties puts them into sixth place at present.
Holly Woodhead and Sarah Bullimore both had unlucky run-outs at Shepherds Bothies at Fence 4 – Holly at element b and Sarah at element C. Individual British squad members still go complete their cross country rounds are Izzy Taylor, Oliver Townend, Wills Oakden and Francis Whittington.
Ireland are out of the team competition after both Joseph Murphy (Sportsfield Orthello) and Padraig McCarthy (Simon Porloe) both suffered falls. However, riding as an individual, Sam Watson and Horseware Lukeswell are in a provisional seventh place after a clear round.
One of the most influential fences on the course is Fence 21 and 22 – the Haggis Neeps and Tatties. There have been a number of fallers at this fence and the Haggis (element b of Fence 21) has now been removed.