Fine and Check In did great jobs out in the hot arena for Daniel Meech and Samantha McIntosh and New Zealand today in the second round of the team competition, which also serves as the second individual round. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like it will be enough however to qualify them for the next round.
Daniel and Fine were first in, and jumped a beautiful round until the second-to-last fence where Fine took the rail behind. It was a good performance, and has left Daniel on a score of 20.73, which is unlikely to qualify the pair for the next final day.
“She was really on today,” Daniel said after his round. “From yesterday to today, the atmosphere is really electric and when you walk in there you can really feel the atmosphere compared to the other days. I think that really helped her. She is really a big time horse. When I went in, I knew she was really on and from the first jump, she was flying.”
This was the first time Daniel has ridden in the hottest part of the day, as previous rounds he drew the morning slots. “We tried to limit the warm up as much as we could,” he said. We walked her a little bit this morning to keep her energy, she felt really good from the beginning. Today I could feel she had a lot of adrenaline, she didn’t want to know a pole today for sure, she was really on.”
The way the rail came down was a little unusual, as it appeared to come down when Fine did a little kick back. Daniel himself wasn’t sure. “The guys said that she actually cleared it but had it on the way down. It was just a really unlucky fault, she deserved to be clear because she jumped amazing.”
“The feeling was just incredible. Those kinds of rounds are what you ride for, it was the ultimate,” Daniel said.
Unfortunately for both Daniel and New Zealand, the horse will now be sold. “We bought her as an investment, I have investors in her and for sure in the end we have to sell her. She is ten years old and sometimes we have to make a little bit of money, not always spend it. I will be really sad when we sell her.”
Daniel bought her from Sweden as a raw but well-handled talented mare. “She was in a good space to do the next step. To come as a pretty green ten-year-old and just go out and do a round like that today, that was really big and technical out there today. There is no let up, no nothing. I am really really happy!”
Fine’s attitude is appreciated by Daniel. “She never lets me down. We can have a bad day, like yesterday, that was a bad day for her with two down but on an occasion like this, you need a horse like this that walks in there and says ‘we own this today.’ She rose to the occasion, she didn’t let the occasion get to her. That is why I chose her, for this purpose, for this type of day. She has the mentality, in the local shows it isn’t a big deal for her, she is laid back.”
The course today was quite different to yesterday’s. “Yesterday was lighter and you had to be way more careful,” Dan said. “Today it is super bold, you have to ride hard for the back rails but you have to protect the front rails. There is everything in there today. It is like yesterday but with more scope and courage and control and everything. You are going forward, you are going back, you have the double gates there straight up, the oxer just out of the turn is difficult, and the triple combination is ultra, when you are coming over the triple bar you have the vertical in your face.”
Daniel isn’t quite sure what is next for him. He and Sam had been planning to go to Barcelona but have decided against it. “My horse will probably have a break after this,” he said.
Samantha McIntosh and Check In had been the best performed Kiwi so far, and have finished in that space as well, on a total of 15.45. The nine faults added today have not helped their cause, and it will be touch and go as to whether they qualify to continue in the competition. The pair had two rails in the middle of the course and a time fault.
On getting to the mixed zone, in true Kiwi fashion, Sam’s first word was “Bugger!”
“We just lost a little control across the middle there – they are probably two of the easer fences,” she said. “He jumped down that first line like a ripper and then probably just lost the rhythm a little bit then he started fighting. We did all we could to remedy it but it was a bit of a tough situation out there.”
Despite the two rails, Sam is still rapt with her stallion. “He is jumping out of his skin – he is really doing his best. The rounds are getting tougher – we are a week in the heat already. I think the fire is starting to go out a little bit.”
The course was bigger and tougher than yesterday’s in Sam’s opinion. “All the verticals are huge now. The oxers are that much wider. There’s a few funny turns in it now that just keep you on your game as well. But the results are looking a little better today than they were yesterday at this stage, so I think credit to good course building.”
Sam now has to sit it out and wait if she makes the cut. “If not there will be lots of pats and carrots and sweets and we will fly home on Monday. He will have a break now and we will concentrate a bit more on the other horses who have been waiting around while we have been playing here.”
There are still a few shows left in the season for Sam and her team. She isn’t sure if she will get to New Zealand for Christmas, but is definitely planning to be back for the Takapoto show at the end of February.
She could also confirm that Check In will continue to be in her stable and not be sold but as for the Olympics, she wasn’t sure. “He is 15 now – he is fit and fresh, so all going well why not but that is a day to day thing with horses. I have a couple of exciting 8 year olds who need a lot of work now – will be playing catch up with them in the next few months.”
We had a question from one of our subscribers about whether these top riders still rode without stirrups, so asked Sam this. She laughed and said: “I used to do a lot – now only occasionally. I think it is important when you are building your position and balance and it is always a good reminder to drop them and trot around for a few minutes without them.”