|Peter Murphy, Will Connell and Tina Cook appraise the dressage|
Different country, different discipline, same aim. I left Rotterdam on Sunday evening following another day of memorable Team GBR dressage performances. There are not suitable words within the English language to describe Carl’s Silver in the Freestyle and with Laura finishing just outside the medals and Charlotte delivering another memorable (for many different reasons) performance it was the perfect end to the perfect week.
So back to leaving Rotterdam on Sunday evening; I have a pathological dislike of traffic jams and thought that if I left Rotterdam on the Sunday evening I could avoid the inevitable Monday morning traffic problems. It took just under 1km on the motorway before I hit almost stationery traffic; the slip road from one motorway to the one I needed to get on to to head West was closed due to an accident; bugger, bugger, bugger. This delayed me by some 20 minutes but the rest of the journey was ok....when I say ok I can report that a Land Rover Discovery can go pretty damn fast. As I headed north from Hannover I did come face to face with lightening, thunder and very heavy rain; again the Land Rover proved its worth as we stormed up the outside lane feeling very secure in the wet conditions.
The FEI European Eventing Championships are underway. Luhmühlen has seen great improvements to the cross country going and especially the main arena and warm up arenas which are now all weather. I am sure the Organising Committee here were very relieved that the investment they made as, by all accounts, the weather during the build up to the event has been atrocious. There are still a couple of patches on the cross country that are a little wet but generally the going is good.
The rain did cause me to become Mr Unpopular........ On two of our stables the rain had collected on the roof in a large reservoir (I would guess about 80 litres above each stable). Now, without going in to detail, if we had just pushed the water off the top of the stables it would have run back under the sides of the stables and flooded them: So being a resourceful sort of chap Andy Thomas and I set about digging drainage channels away from the stables and also piling earth up at the bottom of the stables. This did not go down well with the Stable Managers; apparently the ground has been “prepared” and digging holes was not allowed: Oops. Anyway the drainage channels worked for one of the reservoirs and then we resorted to siphoning the water into our Water Boy (a portable water tank with a sprayer that we use for cooling or washing off horses.......also ideal for watering gardens by all accounts!!).
2 horses arrived on Monday evening and the remaining 4 on Tuesday; most of the staff arrived Monday with the remainder pulling in yesterday. There does seem to have been very big differences in the Calais – Luhmühlen travel times.....I’m hunting out the truth as my Sherlock Holmes instinct tells me there have been some navigational embarrassments........
We all walked the cross country yesterday.....“only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” and it was very hot and very sweaty work. It is not for me to speculate on the difficulty of the course (designed by Mark Phillips and built by David Evans – a very British affair..). I certainly am not going to commit to what might or might not happen on Saturday: We have seen many of the fences before in different positions and with different lines and distances. What is certain is that last minute of the 10 minute course will require the riders to remain very focussed and ensure they still have petrol in the tank; the Europeans are 3* level....the last minute of the course would be 4*.
Dressage is underway and the Germans are dancing well. Nicola Wilson did a great job albeit with a little woopsee moment (the Satellite Navigation had a glitch....). Eventing is about the long game and there is still a long way to go. There is no doubt that the Germans are very focused on winning on home turf but it is most certainly not over yet.....