Wilhelm Enzinger with Wedlock Aquifer was the first competitor into the arena for the four-star dressage today in Adelaide and set a standard that none of the following nine combinations could catch. Their score of 51.8 was the best of the day, followed by Hazel Shannon on Clifford who scored 52.10. Rohan Luxmoore with Bells n Whistles is this on 53.2.
New Zealand’s Andy Daines is in 8th position on his score of 61.4 and he was relieved to have completed his first ever four-star test.
“I was a little concerned going out there, he had like a little hissy fit to begin with and then I lost my way, but once that was out of the way, I was like ‘OK, that’s fine, this is the test.’ I froze a little bit, I was a bit nervous but he was awesome, he did everything I asked of him. I’m very happy.
The nerves did affect Andy’s concentration, as he turned right instead of left after his entry and so therefore had a course error. “I trotted up and halted, and thought, that is alright, he didn’t blow going up the centre line, he’s straight, so I thought to myself, trot on and then I got to the point where I had to turn and thought, ‘oh gawd, right or left?’ I turned and then thought, ‘nah, that’s wrong.’ Perhaps I just wanted more time in the arena.”
The pair did some nice work and coach Penny Castle was pleased with it and he also got a big cheer from all the New Zealand supporters on the sideline. For Andy the highlights were general improvements throughout the test. “I thought I nailed my shoulder in, which was good as we have been struggling with those going up the centre line without the wall to help us. I was quite happy he didn’t blow too much in the changes, so that was good, he just changed late but he stayed and he was really rideable afterwards so I was quite happy with that. He struggles quite hard with the changes, he’s always found them quite exciting, so the aim for this show was to make sure he was really rideable before and after the change. So we achieved that and I was stoked with him.”
Andy was off to walk the course, and intended walking it again to get his minute markers sorted out later this afternoon. Then there would be one more walk at least tomorrow to get his lines sorted out. “Its big, but he’s a cross country machine so unless I really screw up, he is likely to go between the flags so it is very much on me really.”
Three years ago, Wilhelm Enzinger had to watch Christopher Burton take the catch ride and win on his horse TS Jamaimo when Wil was injured just before the event. He is today in the lead with Wenlock Aquifer. He had always picked that this would be the better performer of the two horses he has in the class, the other being the New Zealand horse Britannica MVNZ. “Wenlock Aquifer is more established on the flat. Secretly I wanted to be here in the lead, so I am very happy. I am here now, and my job is to stay here.”
Hazel Shannon and the lovely and obliging Clifford were off a good start to their second attempt at the Adelaide four-star class. Last year they finished 7th after a clear jumping cross country but time faults and a couple of rails. Their score was an improvement on last year’s score as well. “I was really happy with the canter work, he does tend to get a bit tight in that but he stayed a lot more settled than normal so I was pretty happy. His trot work normally scores more than his canter work.” Hazel grew up in far North Queensland but is now based with Heath Ryan in Newcastle. It took a full day and through the night to travel to this event here. As to the cross country, Hazel was confident. “Clifford is pretty adjustable and there is not much which doesn’t suit him. If I ride him well enough, he will do everything asked.”
Rohan Luxmoore admits he is only “a part time eventer.” He is a full time equine veterinarian and says that it is difficult competing at this level when he is so busy with his job. “My family is of great assistance.”
Two years ago he had hoped to compete in the four-star but an injury to his horse Bells n Whistles ruled him out. “He is much better, stronger and more collected. It just takes time for these horses to develop.”
Stuart Tinney, is in fourth place on the New Zealand horse War Hawk. “I was pleased with him. He is really green with the changes still and he gets quite nervous about them so he was brave and held it together and worked his way through. The more he can do tests like that and not get as worried the more he will improve.” Stuart, who has competed at three Olympics and has won this event twice in the past (On Vettori in 2009 and Panamera in 2011) wasn’t phased about the cross country. “It’s a lovely track and I will be out there to give it a shot, that’s for sure.”