Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cautious Optimism After Team Dressage, Day 1

So far, the teams are placed exactly how everyone had predicted: Netherlands in the lead, Germany second, Great Britain third, and the United States fourth. Those were the standings after the first of two full days of team dressage competition at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky.
The main stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park during the dressage competition

The Grand Prix will decide the team medals, which will be awarded late this afternoon, September 28. Only three scores count (some teams have only three members), which gives four-member teams the advantage of having a drop score.
Todd Flettrich and Otto in the team dressage competition
Half the US team competed yesterday. Todd Flettrich on Otto was the first American to go, right after the lunch break. The pirouettes could have "sat" better behind, and afterward Todd admitted that he relaxed his aids a moment too soon during the final piaffe-passage tour and Otto walked momentarily. The pair's final score was 66.553%.

Despite the fact that his ride time got changed more than once -- a significant time difference, with the time moving from before the lunch break to afterward, a difference of nearly two hours -- Todd was relaxed and happy after his test.

Oded Shimoni, who resides in the US but who competes for Israel, earned a score of 66.298% aboard Granada

"It was fabulous," he said afterward. "I made a few mistakes, but I was very pleased with Otto. I hope I get to do this [ride for the US] again sometime."

Katherine Bateson-Chandler, the youngest member of the US team at 35, was the final competitor on day 1. She put in a solid and elegant test aboard Jane Forbes Clark's Nartan for a score of 69.617%.
Although Bateson-Chandler has attended her share of big international championships during her apprenticeship as Robert Dover's groom, the WEG is her first as a competitor. And she had not one speck of nervousness, she claimed.
Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Nartan

"It was exciting, actually," she said of her test. "When everyone starts cheering, you just have to smile. I was happy with my test, although I had two expensive mistakes. We had a mistake at the end of the ones, where he threw an extra one in. I thought his highlights were the extended canter and the pirouettes."

The damp, chilly weather didn't bother the former Dutch team horse a bit, Katherine said. "In Belgium [right over the border] they don't have an indoor arena, and you know what winter there is like. It doesn't bother him."
Imke Schellekens-Bartels (right) receives congratulations from her mother, Dutch Olympian Tineke Bartels (left), and another competitor after her Grand Prix test, which was the high score of the first day of WEG team dressage competition.

The highlight of day 1 was Dutch rider Imke Schellekens-Bartels on Hunter Douglas Sunrise, whose expressive test earned them the day's high score, 73.447%. The 16-year-old Hanoverian mare is a leggy dressage supermodel. A walk into a halt transition and an awkward canter zigzag (Imke said later the mistake was pilot error) were the main flaws in an otherwise impressive test.

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