Sir Mark Todd is sitting in a good position after the dressage phase at the CCI4* at Les 4 Etoiles de Pau on a score of 40.2 just 1.5 penalties behind leaders Shane Rose and CP Qualified who posted a great score of 38.7. Shane will be kicking himself for making a course error, costing him two marks but he is still one full mark ahead of UK’s Ros Canter and Zenshera.
At the press conference, Shane wasn’t just rueing the loss of two marks for the course error. “I think I lost a few points: he was warming up very well but may have lasted 10 minutes too much and in the ring he wasn’t quite as good so I was a little disappointed with myself but I’m happy also that it wasn’t his best day but he still did some very nice work,” he said.
Maxime Livio, who won this event last year, scored 40.2 with Opium de Verrieres to sit equal third with Sir Mark.
There was a bit of fun at the press conference when Shane tried out his French and Sir Mark following suit. They both managed “Je suis très content” and Maxime followed suit, but adding the Australian accent to his native language to make everyone laugh.
Sir Mark did add, in English, that “Campino has been here before and already done many four-stars, and he probably did as good a test as he can do. As for Kitubird, he’s ten years old and it’s his first four-star event and I was very pleased with how he went.”
Sir Mark is also in fifth place on Kiltubrid Rhapsody on a score of 40.4, it is the horse’s first start at four-star level.
Andrew Nicholson on Qwanza had a great score of 42.1 on the first day, to finish up in 11th place at the conclusion of dressage, and on Jet Set, another having his first start at four-star level, he is in 31st place on 49.4.
Caroline Powell is in 17th place after she and Up Up and Away scored 44.3 but is languishing towards the end of the field on On the Brash on their score of 60.1.
Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo scored 46.9 to be in 25th place.
Clip Clop prefers jumping to dressage but Joe Meyer was still pleased with his score of 54.6 in this phase and the pair sit in 57th place.
The scoring is certainly tight, as Andrew on Jet Set and Australia’s Isabell English and Feldale Mouse are tied in 31st place and are only 10.7 points behind the leader!
Isabell’s coach, Michael Jung, unfortunately had to withdraw La Biosthetique Sam FBW before the dressage as the horse came out of his stable to warm up a little stiff so Michael wasn’t prepared to take any chances with his champion. He described what unfolded. “I don’t know exactly what happened, sometimes you have no answer for that, I don’t have one at the moment, I was riding him in the morning and I had a really good feeling. I was really looking forward to the test, then may horse was in the stable for two hours, not alone, my groom was with him so I cannot say he was rolling, or hitting the wall. Then I got to the stable, taking him out of the box immediately saw that something was wrong with him. It was really cold in the morning, I thought he was just stiff. Then, walking him for a few minutes I felt he was not well, I started trotting a little bit and could see he was a little lame, and I was sure straightaway that I wouldn’t try competing with him.” We hope he has a speedy recovery, and Michael hinted that he hopes to be back at Badminton in May next year.
Thanks to all the statistics coming out of Equiratings, we are aware that there is the possibility that after Pau, either Sir Mark or Andrew Nicholson could emerge as number one in the world at the end of the Northern Hemisphere season. Sir Mark hasn’t been No 1 since coming back from retirement, and Andrew was last world number one in 2013. There’s some various ways to determine what has to happen for one of them to overtake Michael Jung, and if you would like to read more about it, do check out this link. But in summary; “If Andrew finishes fifth or better at Pau with either horse — Qwanza the likely contender as she sits 11th after the first phase — he would tie Michael on 463 points and ultimately pass him with a better tie-breaker score. For Toddy to pass Jung, he must keep both horses in the game. Finishing both horses in the top nine would guarantee he passes Michael.” But of course it all depends on how each of the kiwis goes, but it certainly adds a bit of excitement to the event!
The cross country will be on FEI TV live (you need to be a subscriber) and it starts about 11.40pm New Zealand time.