Germany’s Andreas Dibowski has taken the lead after a phenomenal round on It’s Me xx cross-country. They were just outside the optimum time by a second, giving him a score of 43.80. Maxime Livio (France) and Qalao des Mers (44.90) impressed on cross country and have moved into second. In third is Tim Price (New Zealand) on Ringwood Sky Boy with 46.20 penalties after a very polished performance, adding just 1.6 time penalties to his dressage. Oliver Townend on the New Zealand horse Black Tie has moved up to fourth place with a clear round under the time.
Andrew Nicholson showed he was back to his best at four-star level, producing two clear rounds on his two horses. He did incur 5.6 time faults on his first ride Qwanza, who was keen to get around the course, to finish on a score of 51.9 and go into eighth place. Perfect Stranger certainly made up for an unusual lack-lustre dressage yesterday to produce a clear round under time in his first ever attempt at four-star level. The pair are now in 11th place on 54.7.
Only four combinations finished under the time. As well as Maxime, Andrew, and Oliver, Australian Bill Levett on Alexander NJ also flew around and have moved into ninth spot as a result.
It was a fabulous day for Andreas Dibowski and It’s Me xx: “Itsy is a small horse with a huge heart and he was amazing today! The course by Captain Mark Phillips was extremely well built with lots of options for riders and horses. We had perfect conditions with the ground being exceptional! We couldn’t have asked for more. But for us it really started yesterday, when we were riding dressage in the pouring rain. Itsy did the dressage test of his life setting us up for a good score today. We only had a minor insecurity at the third water complex, but that was all and we carried on to finish almost inside the optimum time.”
The French rider Maxime Livio was extremely proud of his horse today: “He was great. He is a very bold and generous horse, always giving 100%. Because there are plenty of French riders fighting for places on the team in Rio, and we didn’t have all the qualifications needed just yet, I decided to take the risk and go for it. We took all the straight routes and he was incredible. Only once he asked me for a little breather but then took off again. Because he is a bold jumper, you need to be prepared for some pretty big jumps. Even taking a big stride into the water will not throw him off balance as he picks up again immediately, ready for the next jump to come.” Maxime is now looking forward to tomorrow: “Qalao des Mers is a careful jumper and as long as I ride him well, we should be able to stay clear.”
The four-star-winner from 2014 with Wesko, Tim Price, was also very happy after today’s cross country ride on Ringwood Sky Boy: “It was a fast paced track, yet it was a real challenge to make the time. Ringwood Sky Boy answered all the questions superbly, and after our fall at Badminton we needed a positive round today. For me it was important to find a good rhythm and then to keep up the pace. He was definitely fit enough! Although Ringwood Sky Boy wouldn’t be my first choice for Rio, I think he proved himself today and he might well be a contender.”
Julia Krajewski, who was in the lead after dressage, and is now in fourth place after adding time faults, is over the moon with her horse’s performance: “It was our first four-star-event and I really couldn’t have asked for more! We had a lot of fun out there and all my nerves were settled as soon as we set off. All I wanted to get out of today, was to give him a confident round, time was really secondary. He was listening to me and supporting me all the way. I am super proud!”
Tomorrow’s show jumping is going to be exciting! There is less than one jumping fault between the first and fourth place promising a nail biting day. Ringwood Sky Boy’s performance in this phase has been mixed but improving a lot lately, with his last three appearances at FEI competitions in the show jumping arena being clear. Qwanza has had the occasional blip in showjumping, and at this event last year Andrew jumped clear on her but had three time faults. Andreas on It’s Me XX hasn’t jumped clear in his last two outings, or at this level but the German has a lot of experience and could well pull one out of the bag.
Sandra Auffarth Retains Lead in CIC*** Meßmer Trophy
Sandra Auffarth (Germany) is holding on to the lead after a strong performance on Opgun Louvo in the cross-country, staying on their dressage score of 32.70. They stayed inside the optimum time extending their lead, leaving Ingrid Klimke (Germany) with Horseware Hale Bob OLD (36.60) in second and Karin Donckers (Belgium) with Fletcha van’t Verahof (43.30) in third.
Sandra’s round was really phenomenal and she must be a shoo-in for selection for the German Olympic team, despite not doing a lot of high profile competitions since her big win at the World Equestrian Games. With 10 seconds to spare they finished their round and made staying within the optimum time of 6:34min look so easy. Yet, only Sandra and Ingrid Klimke managed to do just that. Ingrid too must be assured of a trip to Rio. Karin Donckers and Fletcha van’t Verahof incurred two 2 time penalties. Sandra felt elated: “We really went for it today. He was always looking ahead to the next jump, answering every question asked with ease. It was a very fluent and confident round, but then he is a very experienced horse and he really knows what he is doing.” Sandra, who has not yet won the German Championship title, is now looking forward to tomorrow: “I’m hoping for a clear round – it would be a lovely end to a fabulous weekend.”
Horseware Hale Bob OLD and Ingrid Klimke’s performance cross-country was equally as good: “Bobby galloped round the course with so much ease, he hardly had a hair out of place! His ears were pricked all the way; he was confident and forward throughout. He is very fit and we were always a little bit ahead of the time. I just let him choose his own pace.” Karin Donckers too is very happy with Fletcha van’t Verahof‘s round of today’s CIC*** course: “He is a fabulous horse and he is very fit. I have had him since he was five, so I built him up all the way. He listened to me very well throughout our round and I rode exactly as I had planned after walking the course. This event was just the right preparation ahead of Rio. We had a positive and confident round, which felt just great.”