Dressage: Great Britain dominates the Grand Prix


Fifteen pairs took part in today’s Grand Prix, one of the test events for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian GamesTM 2014 in Normandy. Great Britain came out on top.

Dressage: Great Britain dominates the Grand Prix
© PSV Jean Morel

Even the sunshine did not want to miss this first day of the test events, illuminating the arena in D’Ornano Stadium with its golden rays. Fourth to perform, Carl Hester, one of the favourites in the class atop Nip Tuck, took the lead in the provisional rankings (72.343%) until the turn of countryman Gareth Hughes. The penultimate rider to take to the arena in this Grand Prix, the Brit won the competition on DV Stenkjers Nadonna, with a total of 72.757%. “I’ve just won gold at the 2014 World Equestrian Games...well, actually, the test events!” he joked after his lap of honour. Jovial and clearly delighted, the rider also added, “To be perfectly honest, if I had to compete at the real World Equestrian Games tomorrow, I wouldn’t change anything I asked of my mare. I would simply try to emulate what just happened, as it was a really good performance that I’m totally satisfied with.” This was an important step for the rider and his mare, who is very sensitive to what is happening around her. “It was very important for me to show her the stadium. She tends to get wound up when the atmosphere is particularly intense. That’s also why we went to Hagen, another big competition, this year. Even though the competition in Caen isn’t open to spectators yet, there is still an unusual atmosphere and a high volume of noise in a closed stadium. To be honest, I wanted to show her the stadium, the arena, the stands...and the tunnel that leads from the warm-up ring to the arena. I truly expected her to be afraid of the tunnel, but everything went smoothly: I was the most surprised of all! Now I know that she can perform well in Caen, I’m going to stop competing on her before the final selections are announced. This result here, in the Grand Prix de Caen, could be significant in view of a selection. Let’s just say that after this competition, I feel...confident! (smiles) Nadonna gives me reason to believe in her: she is making progress at every competition, both physically and mentally. She always tries to give that bit extra, so fingers crossed.”

On the third step of the podium, the Princess of Denmark, Nathalie Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, put in a good performance on her new steed Fabienne, with a score of 69.157%. The willowy dark bay performed some stunning movements, such as her extended trot and cantered pirouettes. Things look rosy for the royal rider, who is currently ranked ninth in the world.

The two French riders present also performed well. Julia Chevanne and Luciano 182 just missed out on a place on the podium with a final score of 66.557%. “I wasn’t very happy with my piaffe, which wasn’t as good as usual, nor my entrance. My horse was struggling a bit with the heat, as it suddenly got very hot. As a result, he was less responsive than usual. I was a bit surprised by his behaviour, which was calmer than usual in the piaffe, for example.” Alizée Froment, meanwhile, competed on two different mounts: her trusty Mistral du Coussoul (64.857%) and new recruit, Ehrendorf. The young pair, who have been together for less than two months, obtained a final score of 66.086%, which clinched them fifth place in the Grand Prix. Tomorrow, Alizée will ride Ehrendorf in the Special Grand Prix and Mistral in the Freestyle to Music.

The first rider will take to the arena at 9am (CET).

Tomorrow's Schedule :

Click here to see all the key info concerning the test events

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