The NZ eventing team has delivered, with a fine cross-country performance at Aachen when a deceptively intense track caught out many of the leading nations.
Our team of Clarke Johnstone (Balmoral Sensation), Tim Price (Cekatinka), Sir Mark Todd (Kiltubrid Rhapsody) and Blyth Tait (Havanna) was third after dressage and show jumping, but four clear rounds saw the lads soar to the top of the scoreboard.
Tim was third individually, with 2.8 time faults, Clarke fifth with 6.4 time, and Toddy had 11.2 time to finish 13th, so with three counting scores in the top 15, New Zealand’s final score was 112.9.
“The priority was a solid team performance and it’s thrilling that we’ve all gone out and delivered everything we wanted for the team,” says Tim.
The hosts Germany were firm favourites, and started the day in first place, but their team effort fell apart. Julia Krajewski was in second place overnight, but her horse Samourai du Thot was eliminated for three refusals at fence 16A, the triple brush that emerged as the most influential fence on Rüdiger Schwarz’s course.
Defending champions Ingrid Klimke and SAP Hale Bob OLD had trouble at the same combination of skinnies with a run-out. Andreas Dibowski (FRH Corrida) and Kai Ruder (Colani Sunrise) jumped clear but each racked up time penalties, with Kai’s 12-year-old gelding refusing to leave the start box for a full 40 seconds.
However, Julia had some consolation when her second ride, Chipmunk, had a super round to take out the individual title.
“My first round really didn’t go to plan and was frustrating, but I had to remind myself that it was another horse, and Chipmunk is very different to Sam,” Julia says. “He’s a young horse and I was thrilled with how he answered all my questions.”
France and Sweden delivered clear rounds with three of their four team riders to finish second and third, respectively, on team scores of 130.5 and 146.3.
Australia had a mixed day; Chris Burton and Quality Purdey were the only combination to get inside the time, by just 0.01 of a second, to rocket to second place individually. And in fact with Andrew Hoy and Vassily de Lassos delivering the second fastest round of the day, moving up from 23rd to finish fourth, and Sammi Birch and Hunter Valley II sixth, Australia would have been looking at a win – but sadly for them, Andrew wasn’t in the team. And with Robert Palm eliminated in the dressage phase, and Christine Bates withdrawing before cross-country, the Australians were unable to put up a team score.
It wasn’t a good day for Britain, with the team finishing sixth. World number one Oliver Townend fell off Ballaghmor Class at the first water, while Gemma Tattersall and Sarah Bullimore each had run-outs.
Though it was only at three-star level, the track was described as four-star in intensity, and delivered a thrilling day of eventing sport for the huge crowds, including many delighted Kiwi supporters! Bring on Tryon!