Germany's main man takes an early lead

REIGNING World Champion Michael Jung is at the head of the leaderboard after the first two sessions of eventing dressage at Le Pin National Stud. 

Germany's main man takes an early lead
© PSV Photos

Rain overnight and during this morning’s dressage has left puddles on the arena surface but Germany’s number one rider still managed to coax an accurate performance from Fischerrocana FST which was rewarded by the three-member ground jury with their top marks so far.

The pair exited with a score of 40.7.

“She was very easy and relaxed and she didn’t make too many mistakes,” said Jung. “Although the arena wasn’t slippery horses were looking at the ground because of the water.”

Buck Davidson, first into the arena this morning at 9.30am local time, currently lies in second place on 48.7 with Ballynoe Castle RM for the US team.

New Zealand’s Mark Todd is third with Leonidas II on 49.2. Only these three riders have broken the 40 barrier.

“As I went into the arena there was a lot of clapping which distracted my horse,” said Todd. “He made too many mistakes and he got into a lolloping gallop stride that makes it difficult for him to do the work.”

Sinead Halpin, Burghley runner-up in 2012, is occupying fourth spot with the striking French-bred Manoir De Carneville (stablename Tate). Halpin said that she harbours no hard feelings after being selected to run as an individual.

“I feel like I’m a part of our six-strong team anyway,” she said. “I think they went for experience. This is a big cross-country track and Tate and I aren’t that experienced.”

Halpin explained that her chestnut horse, who is obviously returning to the land of his birth, has a large following on social media.

“It feels like he’s so French,” said Halpin. “There is so much hype behind him.”

Badminton winners Sam Griffiths and the mare Paulank Brockagh lie in fifth place on a score of 53.3 for Australia.

The highest placed French rider, Pascal Leroy (Minos De Petra), is in seventh, less than a penalty behind sixth-placed Zara Phillips.

Phillips’s horse, High Kingdom, made a mistake in the medium trot, for which he was marked down by the judges, and the Queen’s granddaughter felt that he was marked harshly after that incident.

“That’s what you get when you go first,” said Phillips. “You would hope that they would mark the same all the way through a test, but they didn’t bring their scores up [after our mistake].”

Every rider who has completed the dressage so far has predicted that the cross-country course will exert a strong influence on the overall contest.

“This will definitely not be a dressage competition,” said Mark Todd.

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