Hurricane Florence seemed like just a nasty rumor today at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina as the first day of competition in the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 (WEG) eventing world championship got underway. Dressage judges Anne-Mette Binder (DEN), Andrew Bennie (NZL), and Jane Hamlin (USA) saw the first 42 horses in the 83-horse field canter down centerline over the course of the day. The afternoon’s competitors produced some impressive tests with seven combinations dancing their way into the top 10 after the lunch break.
Julia Krajewski (GER) and Chipmunk FRH (Contendro I x Havanna), Dr. Hilmer Meyer-Kulenkampff’s 10-year-old Hanoverian gelding, ran away with the lead this afternoon on a score of 19.9 in his first time performing FEI Eventing 2017 Four-Star Dressage Test B. Although unproven at the four-star level, Chipmunk has won three of the four three-star events he has competed in this year, including the Bramham CCI3*, where he finished on his dressage score of 19.4.
Julia Krajewski and Chipmunk FRH. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” Krajewski shared. “I must not overdo my preparation with him, and he trotted in and felt really good. Maybe something really good was going to happen today, and he felt awesome during the test. He has done good dressage tests before, but to produce it in such an atmosphere on this day, the people went crazy.”
Krajewski insisted that she still does not think of this test as a personal best, observing that, “He has had scores of 19 something before, but it is not just push a button and get 19. With a horse like him that can really do it, it is about the detail. I am so proud. He is only 10. I had to stop the tears when I finished the test. It is an amazing feeling.”
Krajewski holding back tears after a fabulous test with Chipmunk. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
As the United States follows Germany in the order of go, Boyd Martin was second down centerline for Team USA immediately following Krajewski and Chipmunk. But Martin didn’t let Krajewski’s score intimidate him, putting in a personal best with Christine Turner’s Tsetserleg (Windfall *PG* x Thabana), an 11-year-old Trakehner gelding. The pair laid down a 27.1 to slot into second place, right behind Krajewski and Chipmunk. Martin and “Thomas” were 11th at the Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event earlier this year where they scored a 31.2. Today’s score of 27.1 is an FEI personal best for the pair at any level.
“I am very happy with him,” said Martin. “It is only the second time he has done that test. He’s a good boy and just gets in there. It is an awesome atmosphere in there, and really cool to be riding here. The horse’s breeder, owner, everyone is here.”
Martin and Tsetserleg both looking very pleased with themselves. USEA/Jessica Duffy Photo.
“You try very hard for a moment like this and your biggest fear is screwing it up,” Martin confided. “But little Thomas went like a champion.”
“Given the particular circumstances, he became my number one horse,” explained Martin. “All of a sudden he’s all I think about day to day and the improvement has gone through the roof. It’s a good lesson to learn. There are diamonds in the rough sometimes in your barn. If you’d told me six months or a year ago that this horse would be at the championships I would have laughed at you, but here we are!”
Piggy French (GBR) and Quarrycrest Echo (Clover Echo x Royal China), Jayne McGivern’s 11-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding, went down centerline immediately following Martin and Tsetserleg, ultimately slotting in directly behind them in the standings on a score of 27.8. French and Quarrycrest Echo have three top-10 finishes at the CIC3* this year and were 22nd at Luhmühlen.
Piggy French and Quarrycrest Echo. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
“It’s great to be here, it’s what we do it for,” French commented. “He’s a really cool horse, he’s still not the most experienced and there’s still more to come from him but he’s got an amazing brain and so you can be quite brave and I always give it a good go. I was delighted, we had one mistake at the beginning where he cantered out of the first halt which is really annoying. It’s quite nice to nail an entry and get the judges thinking it’s good, so it took a little time to warm up a little bit but on the whole I’m delighted. I think he’s given it his all and that’s all we can do.
“I’ve walked the (cross-country) course . . . It’s just about getting the job done,” she observed. “There’s plenty of places where we can make mistakes and have sillies so we’ve just got to be on it and hope the weather is alright for us. I think it’ll be the luck of the draw what stage of the day you go; whether it’s very sunny or very wet or not, so I think we are in the hands of that a bit as well.”
William Coleman and Tight Lines (Turgeon x Merindole), The Conair Syndicate’s 11-year-old Pur Sang gelding, were first out for the Americans this morning, scoring a personal best for this dressage test with a 35.6. Coleman and Tight Lines completed the test twice at the Kentucky Three-Day Event, scoring a 54.4 (converted to 36.3) in 2017 and a 38.3 in 2018.
Will Coleman and Tight Lines. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
“Under the circumstances, that wouldn’t be his strong phase by any stretch of the imagination, and I was happy he kept his cool and we managed to do what we could do today,” Coleman stated. “He’s here for the jumping phases more than he is this first phase. I don’t think we could have hoped for much better than we did today. I’m just looking forward to the rest of the competition now.”
The members of the U.S. Team are all veteran team members and have been to championship competitions as a team in the past. “There is a real chemistry with this team,” said Coleman. “Everyone gets along and is really supportive of one another. I do think it is a strong team. We have got strong characters, big riders, and some big cross-country horses. We haven’t had a lot of success at these championships in recent years, so I think we are all looking to turn that around.”
Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus (Sazeram x Wake Me Gently) were the third and final U.S. pair to dance in the sandbox today. Kieffer and “Bug,” Jacqueline Mars’ 11-year-old Anglo Arabian gelding, are competing as individuals for the United States and scored a 32.6 for 20th place. Vermiculus has also performed this test three times now, scoring a 43.8 (converted to 29.2) in 2017 and 31.2 in 2018.
Lauren Kieffer and Vermiculus. USEA/Leslie Mintz Photo.
“I’ll be honest - I’m a little disappointed,” Kieffer divulged. “He’s been putting in some really good work and getting better and better the last few weeks. He’s an Arabian and he’s a bit green and not quite a professional yet and I think that showed in there. But still, the quality keeps getting better. I think that’s evident in the score; he had quite a few little bobbles and they kept giving him good marks. I think by this time next year he’ll be scoring in the 20s and that much more of a professional.”
Vermiculus is half-brother to Kieffer’s four-star mount Snooze Alarm, and she confided that it’s a special experience to be here at the World Equestrian Games competing on her old partner’s younger brother. “I was lucky enough to have my first event horse be a four-star horse in the long run, and to do it again on is brother is pretty cool.”
Click here to view the individual scores.
As things stand after the first day of competition, Germany is in first place with a combined score of 50.1, followed by Australia with a score of 58.4 and France just a point behind them on 59.4. The United States sits in sixth place overnight on 62.7. Just two riders for each team have performed their dressage tests thus far, with two more to go during tomorrow’s competition.
Click here for the complete team standings.
Dressage competition will resume tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. in the Tryon Stadium and continue until 4:30 p.m., with 41 horse-and-rider combinations left to perform their tests.
The FEI is scheduled to meet this evening to make a decision about whether or not the cross-country track will be shortened in anticipation of the inclement weather that is expected as a result of Hurricane Florence. The FEI is expected to make a statement about their decision following their meeting. Stay tuned to find out what the FEI decides!
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“I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it was an amazing experience.” Twenty-five years ago, Kerry Millikin and her off-the-track Thoroughbred gelding, Out and About (who was only 8 years old at the time) won the individual Olympic bronze medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, making her one of five females to have earned an individual Olympic medal for the U.S.