Dressage this year for the eventers was back out in the driving arena on grass and not in the stadium by the stables as usual but as always with Aachen it was beautifully presented and looked like a true international arena.
Tim and Falco were first up for the team and they powered into the arena showing off a fabulous trot. They picked up canter to head down the centre line and Falco really did show off his paces and his training. Falco has been consistently sub 30 at 4* since Blenheim in 2019 and today he didn’t disappoint with a lovely flowing test for 29 flat. It looked smooth and easy and set the team off to a great start.
Maddy Crowe and Waitangi Pinterest (Lush) also put on a polished show at their first international in Europe for a 30.5 and all eyes were on Jonelle and the diminutive McClaren as they cantered in just before 11am. Apart from the slightest resistance before the rein back it was a lovely display of a balanced and supple horse and they looked a true partnership.
Well, to me anyway! For some reason the judges just hold back on the marks for McClaren and I could see the disappointment on Jonelle’s face after her final halt. A similar thing happened at Luhmuhlen and it seems a bit harsh on the little fella that gives his all. A 32 .2 was not what Jonelle had hoped for and she said she was pretty disillusioned with the score.
Jesse Campbell and Amsterdam 21 ( Otto) did a lovely test for 29.6 and to pick up 10th spot with a smooth display of unity.
The team score is good enough to lie in 2nd after dressage behind the Brits and there was an afternoon of more course walking before the showjumping started at 5.30. Simply riding into the main arena at Aachen must be a mind blowing sensation and we never forget how lucky we are to be able to do it. Admittedly the stands tend to empty when the eventers arrive to jump the 1m30 fences as its hardly as exciting as watching the 1m60 classes but hey ho, its our time to shine!
And as the sun disappeared behind the stands the showjumping commenced. In July the lengthening shadows certainly have an effect but the sun was long gone here and the arena was pretty bereft of spectators as well. But Aachen has a unique ‘big time’ atmosphere of its own and as Tim said, warming up in the tight ‘open to all’ outdoor grass arena before you go into the last showjumping warm up means you are fighting for space with jumpers and driving horses as well. Falco wasn’t really coping with is first view of carriages ( few ridden horses are!) and he lost concentration even before he went into the tight last warm up before heading down the famous shute into the fabled main arena. Tim rode him up to a jump and Falco spooked and span around at a fence decoration which is something he hasn’t done in the lastt few years and just showed how unsettled he was. He gave Tim a tricky ride and the price was paid by his first rail since 2017 but, as Tim wisely said, Aachen is not Millstreet or Strzegom and Falco just needs more exposure to these types of World Class venues. He dropped form 4th to 10th but learnt masses in the process.
McClaren is another guaranteed clear and he and Jonelle were simply brilliant to leave all the poles in place for a clear, just adding 1.2 time to move from 20th til 12th. Maddy Crowe and Waitangi Pinterst added a rail and 1 second over to move up one place into 14th whilst Jesse Campbell and Amsterdam dropped three rails to slip from 10th to 26th.
Plenty of woes for other countries too which means New Zealand remain in silver medal position going into cross country. Just three combinations all evening jumped clear in time…thats Aachen for sure.