Tim Price and Wesko put in a foot perfect performance over the tricky CCI**** cross country course to remain at the top of the leaderboard going into the final phase in Kentucky.
Despite taking longer routes at fences 8 and 9 the Kiwi rider posted a fault free round. “That was good, I think. I came home clear and in the time which is always the primary task. The last couple of years he has been a very honest horse but when he was coming up through the levels he had a couple of blips at little questions, similar to the ones at 8 and 9, so I just thought it was one place to mind myself a little bit as it was early on. He was fresh and it can catch them out a little bit at the hollow – I just had a bit of a gut feeling and I knew that he’s very quick so could make up the time. He’s tight on his turns and still had plenty of gas in the tank right at the end,” said Tim.
Tim was held on course due to a fence needing repairing.
Germany’s leading rider Michael Jung currently fill second and third riding Le Biothsthetique – Sam FBW and Ficherrocanna respectively. Finishing one second over the optimum time could potentially cost Michael the $350,000 prize pot on offer as he added 0.4 of a time penalty allowing Tim to head the leaderboard.
Speaking after his ride on Sam, Michael said: “I am very happy – he was really wonderful. He had a long break after Aachen which he needed. My feeling here is that the cross-country was very good. He had a look, like my other horse, at the hollow but on the other fences he was very, very good. He was galloping very well in the end – I was a little bit too easy and a little bit too slow but I am very happy about my round.”
Last year’s victors William Fox-Pitt and Bay My Hero will show jump from fourth tomorrow.
“I am delighted with him. I was worried about the ground for him today, going at the end of the day the ground had really deteriorated – he is not a thoroughbred horse and hasn’t got the scopiest gallop so I knew it was going to be hard work. He really worked hard all the way – he was fab, I am chuffed to bits with him, he was perfect over the fences working really hard all the way. Hopefully he will be feeling good tomorrow and he’ll jump well,” said William.
31,586 spectators headed to the Kentucky venue to see 71 horses start the cross country – 46 of which finished, 15 were eliminated, 10 retired and only six added nothing to their dressage score.
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Report by Natalie Clark
Photographs Courtesy of Alec Thayer and Leah Perkins