The 2018 World Equestrian Games have really has started now, with the dressage horses being the first to be presented for the horse inspection.
Just before the trot up started, we had the devastating news that John Thompson withdrew JHT Antonello from the competition. “This would have to be the lowest point of my competition career,” said John. “I feel AJ is not 100% after being transported into Tryon, and in the best interest of my mate, we’ve made the decision to withdraw.”
Speaking after the trot up, Julie Brougham also expressed how she felt about John having to withdraw. “It was very disappointing for John, disappointing for everyone involved, and I am disappointed for myself as I have lost my team mate. I know we are competing as individuals but it still felt like a team.”
The trot up was conducted under a covered track, which was rolled regularly. All the photographers were confined to one end of the track so the horses had quite the view to trot towards! There were plenty who thought that was the scariest thing out, and others who loved the cameras.
Vom Feinstein was presented in the latter part of the trot up, by Andrea Raves, who coaches Julie Brougham. Julie watched anxiously next to the Ground Jury as Andrea did a great job of the “jog.”
Getting through the trot up was “a big deal” to Julie. She confirmed ‘Steiny’ was well (he certainly looked well!) although she was a little concerned that he coughed a bit this morning when she rode him. “The vet thinks it is just dust related, and unfortunately there is nowhere to graze him here. They pick up a lot of dust from the stable and I think even the fans actually create quite a bit of dust, as there is sand everywhere. We are going to try to make an effort to make sure everything like feed is dampened down and hopefully that will be the end of it.”
Julie was also very pleased with how Steiny behaved at the trot up. “Andrea has taken over that role, as he just gets too strong for me. She has really made a point of training him for the trot up and today he did it beautifully. I think we have gotten through all that nonsense we used to have. While it was very extravagant, it wasn’t what they were wanting!”
One of the most impressive teams was the Danish as both their horses and their riders moved beautifully! Beatriz Ferrer-Salat from Spain matched her Delgado’s extended trot well too and we look forward to seeing the very experienced rider out in the arena.
It was also good to see Charlotte Dujardin out with her exciting mare, Mount St John Freestyle.
There were some lovely horses presented, but one that stood out for me because of his lovely face and expression was Xiripiti, competing for Brazil and ridden by Joao Victor Marcari Oliva.
The Australians have the worry of one horse, Bluefields Floreno being asked to be presented again tomorrow. Alexis Hellyer had her horse put in the hold box, and on re-presentation, he did not satisfy the Ground Jury enough to pass today.
The competition starts tomorrow but Julie and Steiny will be on the second day of competition. “I am quite proud that I am on the second day. Of the individual riders, I am the only one who is ranked under 100, as I am currently 97th in the world. I think that is a bit of a feat, coming from New Zealand to be the top ranked rider in the individuals. I am quite amazed actually!”
The draw hasn’t been done at this point, so we don’t know what time Julie will be riding but she is hopeful she is later on in the day.
Julie said that the experience of competing at the Rio Olympics had made it a lot easier here. “Hugely, enormously so. There is no comparison, we were such greenhorns at Rio, whereas this is more like, oh yeah, another big show. It was a vertical learning curve competing as I did in Europe in 2016 and then going to Rio. It is so much easier this time.
“It has been wonderful to see lots of familiar faces. Everyone seems to have remembered us and it has been terrific,” she said.