Dan Jocelyn’s score of 32.8 in the dressage at Tryon was a personal best for him on Grovine de Reve, and he was very pleased with his horse, but not at all pleased with himself, after making his first-ever course error at a championship. However, the score that he posted puts him in a relatively handy position going into the jumping phases: he is 52nd but 12.9 penalties behind the leader.
“I was really pleased with him, I think it was the best trot work he has done. I was very happy with the canter work, I was happy with the way he was settled in there. We haven’t done a lot of big-time tests but he is certainly rising to the challenge.”
Towards the latter part of his test, Dan made the course error by missing out a canter circle, and completed the next movement which was the flying change.
“It felt the best test he was doing up until that point. Everyone always tells me to enjoy it, and I think I was and then suddenly I was just cantering around and I felt like I was at home in the school and then off we went and did the changes, and then I was completely in shock [when they rang the bell]. Normally when you make a mistake, you know. I was at the change and ready to come down the centreline and finish so when they rang the bell I was like ‘OMG what’s happened.’
I had to ask Andrew [Bennie, Ground Jury at B] as I had no idea. I had done quite a nice change and then I had to go and do it again and the second one was a little hurried. It is a mistake that shouldn’t have happened so for me, as a professional rider, I am very disappointed that I did that. But, I will look at the positives and that was the nicest test I have ridden on that horse, so I am very pleased.”
Dan Jocelyn rode at the Olympics in 2004 for New Zealand, and when asked if the temperatures here were similar to what he had experienced there, he agreed. “The horses feel like they have acclimatised, as they have been here a week. They have done a fantastic job with fans and cooling areas. We don’t overwork the horses during the day either, giving them more short and sharp sessions, so they feel quite peppy.”
As to the cross-country, Dan thinks he will enjoy it, and rise to the challenge again. “I have had some really good three-star runs and he is getting faster and faster with more confidence. He is understanding the questions, and he will be hit with some fairly big questions early. The combination at fence 5 first, and then going through and testing them through that first water. It is a long stretch of water to gallop through so we want them to attack that and be positive through there, so we are not down on the clock.
“Then we get to the question of the stone wall and dip down to the skinny, that is going to take a bit of riding. My horse tends to be a bit on the careful and shorter stride, and that is quite a positive three strides down to that. I will make sure he is on the game and then I think he will be settled in.
“We are aiming to be straight everywhere, but in saying that there are a couple of fences where you can go one side or the other and jump one extra effort. I am doing a couple of those. But I don’t feel in the grand scheme of things that is going to lose us too much. For example, that first question at 5, I think the line down the right hand side is not going to be any slower than having to turn and do one less effort on the left. I also think it has a more natural feel about it.
“Then it is just strong all the way down to the finish, but we have that hill to negotiate at the end, so hopefully he has a bit of petrol in the tank. I would like to be on the clock. We are not going to make any time up the hill, and it is just then a case of getting home.”
As to whether Grovine de Reve likes jumping in the rain, Dan confirmed: “he loves it! He’s from Ireland. I don’t mind it either, it will cool us down.”
Dan has had the ride on the horse for nearly two years, having bought him from his good mate, Rodney Powell. “He assured me this was the horse for me and he was right, I love the horse and he has come on strength to strength, albeit a little inexperienced at this level. He has never competitively done the four-star test, it is new territory for him. I am just thrilled with the way he performed in there.”
“He was a show jumping horse as a four- and five-year-old and he has done some big age-class shows in Ireland, so he has had some big atmospheres as a young horse, albeit not in the dressage arena or cross-country, but he has done some travelling and he has done a lot of competing.”