Thousands of riders and horse fanatics will descend on Normandy, France, for the 2014 World Equestrian Games, the flagship event on FEI's 2014 calendar.
For the first time since the Games' inception in 1990, two demonstration disciplines will be added to the eight events that make up the sport of equestrian, with the athletes competing in polo and horse-ball getting a golden opportunity to put their sports on the map.
Dressage and reining will take the headlines in the early days of competition, with the much-anticipated jumping events starting in the second week.
Day 13 Update
Jeroen Dubbeldam won the Jumping Final at the World Equestrian Games after a four impeccable rounds. The Dutch rider wowed the Normandie crowd with a display of supreme precision to take the gold and reaffirm Netherlands' dominance over the course of these Games.
Trailing him were French rider Patrice Delaveau in second place and American Beezie Madden took the Bronze medal.
The Normandie 2014 Twitter account posted the official results after the completion of all four rounds:
Here are the full results of the #Jumping Final 4 http://t.co/DI1X0JFqkN #WEG2014 http://t.co/aRIDDq8Rcc2014-9-7 15:00:51
The excitement was palpable after Dubbeldam made it through the first three rounds without any infractions. And although ahead of his fourth ride the gold medal was all but sealed, there was plenty of nervous tension as he sought a perfect set of outings. But he conquered all the obstacles with a swagger and poise; the coupe de grace on a stellar display.
Here's a glimpse of Dubbeldam's excellent performance courtesy of the Normandie 2014 Twitter account:
J. #Dubbeldam world champion ! #WEG2014 #NED https://t.co/bFUbpR1QYK2014-9-7 14:29:51
United States rides Reed Kessler paid tribute to the credentials of the new World Champion:
Reed Kessler @ReedCat5000
What a rider Jeroen Dubbeldam! An inspiration to watch and a really deserving world champion! #finalfour #WEG20142014-9-7 14:33:54
Those results did nothing to effect the team standings which see the Netherlands, France and the United States currently occupying first, second and third sports respectively.
Earlier in the day Boyd Exell made it three World Championships in a row in the driving format. The result was confirmed by the FEI:
The FEI @FEI_Global
Boyd Exell is #WEG2014 #Driving world champion. Three world titles in a row . Congratulations! http://t.co/p3ejylWqXt2014-9-7 12:06:43
It represents the only medal won by Australia at these games, as noted here by Dressage NSW:
Dressage NSW @dressagensw
Boyd Exell excels once again delivering the only Medal for Australia at the 2014 WEG, and a GOLD medal at that.... http://t.co/etWfWesjNp2014-9-7 11:09:49
Trailing Boyd Exell in the overall standings were Chester Weber from the United States and Theo Timmerman from the Netherlands. The second and third placed riders put in an excellent effort on the final day in a valiant attempt to close the gap, but after finishing third in the marathon discipline, Exell's lead atop of the standings was always unlikely to slip.
Day 12 Update
No medals were awarded on Saturday as the World Equestrian Games took a turn toward qualification-based events, with the marathon stage of the driving took centre stage along with the third individual jump qualifying.
After the afternoon session, the jumping field had been reduced to four, with Rolf-Göran Bengtsson, Patrice Delaveau, Jeroen Dubbeldam and Beezie Madden emerging as the top four finalists for Sunday's climax.
The achievement was a particularly special one for Frenchman Delaveau, who spoke to the media following Saturday's triumph, per World Of ShowJumping, speaking of his pressures and the resulting delight:
I am of course very happy after a difficult day with all the expectations. I live about 40 kilometers away, so I know many people in the area. We have discussed this competition every day for a long time so the pressure was huge for me and the French riders. Tomorrow is another day. I will enjoy tonight and then we will see tomorrow.
Dubbeldam was the only rider who came into Saturday's qualifier outside the top four already, and and the Dutchman's rise up from 12th was a magnificent turnaround of the odds.
The official Normandie 2014 Twitter account posted the qualification standings heading into Day 13, the last chance for any underdog to stage their final push for a medal:
We know the 4 riders qualified for the Final 4: P.Delaveau, B.Madden, R.G.Bengtsson & J.Dubbeldam! #Jumping #WEG2014 http://t.co/gdWMTihTV72014-9-6 14:41:35
The adrenaline-boosting driving marathon was first in Saturday's order, however, and Australia's Boyd Exell gives his nation some hope of claiming a prize at the end of proceedings thanks to a fine ride on Day 12.
Normandie 2014 provides a full breakdown of the results from La Prairie racecourse, Exell finishing the day third overall behind Germans Christoph Sandmann and Georg von Stein, first and second, respectively:
Here are the Team results after the marathon today #Driving http://t.co/cpFowLDtkZ http://t.co/5K9b1nu58t2014-9-6 16:10:57
Sunday sees attention shift to the cone obstacle driving event, where an entirely different brand of dexterity and calm will be required to emerge victorious, Germany and Australia making up good ground in their most recent outings.
Day 11 Update
Hosts France finally won their first gold medal of the 2014 World Equestrian Games as the vaulting competition came to an end on Friday. Jacques Ferrari held on to his lead in the men's competition, sending the home fans into a frenzy.
Great Britain's Joanne Eccles took the gold in the women's competition, while Germany dominated the team event, taking the gold ahead of Switzerland and France.
The full medal tracker for Friday's events:
|Friday's Medal Tracker|
|Vaulting||Men's Individual||Jacques Ferrari (FRA)||Nicolas Andreani (ITA)||Erik Oese (GER)|
|Vaulting||Women's individual||Joanne Eccles (GBR)||Anna Cavallaro (ITA)||Simone Jaiser (SWI)|
|Vaulting||Pas De Deux||Austria||Germany||Great Britain|
The French crowd had to wait 12 days for a national hero, and on Friday, they finally got one. Ferrari came into the day leading the competition and was flawless in his final runs, beating out Nicolas Andreani and Erik Oese. Normandie 2014 tweeted this photo of the final podium:
Ok a last one... sorry for all those tweets but it's the 1st French gold medal :-) #WEG2014 #Vaulting #JEM2014 http://t.co/ZINwAi2sMI2014-9-5 17:08:46
World champion Andreani knew he had a mountain to climb to catch up with Ferrari, and while his Freestyle run was everything he could have hoped for, his French challenger didn't slip in the spotlight.
Ferrari was very emotional in his interview after the final, as reported by the event's website:
This is the crowning of a long process of many years, not just for myself but my family, friends and my teammates, and the culmination of the development of a style I have tried to design. This is a sign that I have reached the limit and the pinnacle of my career so I don’t know what will follow after this.
An unprecedented score of 9.166 on his final run left the fans and his competitors in awe, and the Frenchman was truly deserving of the gold.
Eccles narrowly beat out Anna Cavallaro and Simone Jaiser for the gold in the women's competition, adding to Great Britain's impressive medal collection. Eccles had the support of her sister Hannah, who fell way back in the rankings on the final day, and it helped her record an impressive final test score of 9.119.
The duo also took the bronze in the Pas De Deux, and they were perhaps even more excited about that result:
Austria took the gold in that event, with Germany having to settle for silver. The Germans got their revenge in the team competition, however, holding off Switzerland and France to grab the win and stay within range of Team Great Britain in the medal rankings, via Normandie 2014:
#Switzerland : 2nd rank ! 1/GER 2/SUI 3/FRA La France en bronze ! #WEG2014 #JEM2014 http://t.co/M0fFnoXbNL2014-9-5 19:41:00
The USA's Chester Weber surged to the top of the leaderboard after the second day of Dressage in the Driving competition, holding a two percent lead over the rest of the pack. The Netherlands comfortably lead the team competition, as shared by FEI:
The FEI @FEI_Global
Chester Weber and Dutch team are unsurpassed in driven dressage #Driving #WEG2014 http://t.co/2dg6cTo9Cm http://t.co/lUnlKuOKCS2014-9-5 17:39:49
|Jumping||Individual Third Competition Round||12.25 a.m. BST|
|Driving||Marathon Test||8.30 a.m. BST|
Jumping will return on Saturday with the third individual round, with a trip to Sunday's final on the line. Driving will also continue, with the marathon test on the schedule.
Day 10 Update
The Jumping team competition took centre stage on Thursday, with medals and tickets for the 2016 Summer Olympics up for grabs. The Netherlands confirmed their status as favourites for the event, holding off a challenge from the hosts to take the gold.
The Driving event also started on Day 10 with the opening two test sessions, and once again, it were the Dutch who found themselves at the top of the standings.
Today's medal tracker:
|2014 World Equestrian Games Medal Tracker: Thursday|
In an incredibly tense and close final, the Netherlands narrowly beat hosts France for the Jumping team gold, courtesy of a phenomenal first round. The Dutch team ended with a score of 12.83, and despite two clean runs in the final round, the French squad had to settle for 14.08.
The USA finished third to win the bronze, and as shared by Normandie2014, it made for quite the podium:
A Nice Colorful podium ! #Jumping #WEG2014 #JEM2014 http://t.co/btUfcHt5fB2014-9-4 16:27:35
As shared by FEI, they were joined by Germany and Sweden as the five nations booking early tickets for Rio 2016:
The FEI @FEI_Global
Netherlands @KNHSNederland, France, USA @USEquestrian, Germany @DOSB , and Sweden @SvenskRidsport qualify for @Rio2016_en @Olympics CONGRATS2014-9-4 16:01:01
Ironically, it was the mercurial Patrice Delaveau who played a major part in the Dutch victory. The individual entered the stadium with the chance to hand her nation the gold, but four faults on her second run decided the French fate.
The Netherlands' Jeroen Dubbeldam didn't mince his words, with the textbook confidence his compatriots are so famous for:
The FEI @FEI_Global
"We're a very strong country with horses" Jeroen Dubbeldam (NED), gold team #jumping #WEG2014 http://t.co/GmaP93qxAw http://t.co/Pj0USbu0Rg2014-9-4 19:01:29
Germany were favourites for the podium but had to settle for fourth place thanks to a wonderful performance from Team USA, where Beezie Madden rode two faultless rounds.
Great Britain disappointed with an 18th-placed finish, but Scotland's Scott Brash rebounded from his bad round on Wednesday and looks to be regaining his form for the individual competition.
Ijsbrand Chardon and Koos de Ronde lead the pack after the first day of the driving event, with both Dutchmen recording excellent scores in the first two rounds of dressage.
Chardon took pole position with a +- of 117.88/42.12, with De Ronde already chasing by more than four points. Germany's Christoph Sandmann completes the provisional podium, with 112.87/47.13.
|Vaulting||Finals (Individual+Team)||9 a.m. BST|
|Driving||Dressage Tests 3&4||8.30 p.m. BST|
The Jumping competition will take a rest day on Friday, as the spotlights turn towards the final day of the Vaulting event. The Dressage competition will enter its second day, with two more test sessions.
Day 9 Update
Scott Brash failed to live up to the lofty expectations during Wednesday's jumping round at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, picking up four jumping faults to end with a score of 8.10.
The Scottish leader on the World Rankings will be the only member of Team Great Britain in competition going into the second round, and he will have a mountain to climb in order to medal in the event.
As shared by Team GBR, Brash missed one water hurdle during his second run:
Equestrian Team GBR @TeamGBR
Last British rider to jump today, Scott Brash & Hello Sanctos have a foot in the water to pick up four jumping faults. #WEG20142014-9-3 15:05:58
Irish teen sensation Bertram Allen couldn't ride a second consecutive clean run, also picking up four faults to tumble down the rankings and out of the top 10. Local favourite Patrice Delaveau continued his dominance, riding Orient Express HDC to a clean run to keep his point total on 0.08.
Team GBR managed to qualify for Thursday's final, but with fierce competition coming from the Dutch, German and French team, they're not expected to medal.
The Brits had more luck in the vaulting competition, where Joanne Eccles took the top spot after the first round in the freestyle event. Scoring 8,619 points, she holds a slim lead over Denmark's Rikke Laumann after the second of four tests.
As shared by Horse and Hound, the entire British team qualified for the next round:
Horse & Hound @horseandhound
All three Brits, Eccles sisters & Lucy Phillips, through to Thurs/Fri in female vaulting at #WEG with top 15 places. http://t.co/NAxF5lIfzJ2014-9-3 14:29:20
Jacques Ferrari leads the men's event by a huge margin, outscoring the Czech Republic's Lukas Clouda by more than 1000 points.
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Thursday Schedule|
|Jumping||Team & Individual Competition, Round 2||2.30 p.m. BST|
|Vaulting||Female & Male Individual Competition (Freestyle, Technical)||1 p.m. BST|
Thursday will see the second round of the team and individual jumping competitions, while the first round of the vaulting competition will continue.
Day 8 Update
After Monday's rest day, the action begun once again in Normandy on Tuesday as the second week of the 2014 World Equestrian Games got under way with the first day of the jumping and vaulting events.
In the individual speed jumping at the d’Ornano Stadium—the first competition to contribute to the individual and team rankings—Irishman Bertram Allen prevailed, clinging onto his time of 77.01 seconds set early in the morning session.
The 19-year-old—aboard 10-year-old mare Molly Malone V—held off the challenge from home favourite Patrice Delaveau and was seemingly surprised at his performance, per RTE Sport:
It was a good solid round. I didn’t quite expect to be that fast and I’m surprised to be in the lead. I didn't go all out to risk it and this will be a time to be beaten.
Normandie2014 provides the full result of the first jumping discipline which sees Belgian rider Gregory Wathelet behind Delaveau in third and a host of world-beaters who were unable to match Allen:
Things were incredibly tight as the vaulting kicked off at Caen's Zenith arena with the team compulsory tests as well as the men's and women's individual events.
The Austrian team's score of 7.873 was just enough to push Germany into second after their score of 7.852 while Switzerland finished the day in third.
Meanwhile, in the women's individual event, the reigning world champion from 2010, Britain's Joanne Eccles, had to settle for second place on the first day as Denmark's Rikke Laumann claimed top spot with a score of 8.435, per Normandie2014:
Finally, the men's individual event finished with Jacques Ferrari atop the leaderboard with 8.410—his best ever score at international level—ahead of compatriot Nicolas Andreani in second and a trio of German riders close behind.
The full highlights of the day can be seen below via FEI:
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Wednesday's Schedule|
|Jumping||Ind. Qualification and Team Competition||8.10 a.m. BST/ 3.10 a.m. ET|
|Vaulting||Free Tests||8.30 a.m. BST/3.30 a.m. ET|
|Vaulting||Free Tests||1 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET|
|Jumping||Ind. Qualification and Team Competition||1.15 p.m. BST/8.15 a.m. ET|
Wednesday's action will see more of the same as the vaulting competitions continue with the freestyle for men's, women's and squad competitions at the Zenith arena.
The competition in the jumping event will be fierce, especially in the team discipline, as only the top 10 will go through to Thursday's final.
Day 7 Update
Germany predictably dominated the final eventing discipline of the 2014 World Equestrian Games, the jumping event, as two of their riders leapt over Great Britain's William Fox-Pitt to take the silver and gold medals.
Fox-Pitt entered the jumping event as the leader in the classification, but both Sandra Auffarth and Michael Jung managed clear runs in less than 90 seconds on the final day, whereas the Brit earned fur penalty points.
FEI shared the final podium:
Auffarth completed the course in 89 seconds and rode more than five points under her compatriot in the dressage event, but with Jung speeding through the course at record pace, the battle for gold remained exiting until the very end.
His time of 86 seconds gave him a final score of 52.3, .3 higher than Auffarth. When finding out she'd won, the 27-year-old couldn't believe it, via Normandy2014:
Fox-Pitt's bronze medal gave Team Great Britain the silver in the team standings, and he told Lloyd Bell he was very excited with that result (audio). British equestrian has traditionally never focused on jumping all that much, but the team proved their value in 2014.
As shared by FEI, the silver medal also meant Great Britain have qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics:
All eyes were of course on Zara Phillips, who wrote the aptly-named horse High Kingdom to an 11th-place finish. Phillips completed the course in 85 seconds with no errors, making up for her poor showing in the dressage event.
Horse and Country TV were impressed:
The 2014 World Equestrian Games will take a break on Monday; before the Jumping and vaulting competitions start on Tuesday.
Day 6 Update
Just two events were on the schedule for Saturday's 2014 World Equestrian Games' action, as the event enjoyed a bit of a break before the second week of competition.
The Cross Country test was on tap for athletes participating in eventing, but all eyes were on the Individual reining final, where the USA once again ran away with all the medals.
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Saturday's Results|
|Reining||Individual Final||Shawn Flarida (USA)||Andrea Fappani (USA)||Mandy McCutcheon (USA)|
The Americans have traditionally dominated this discipline of equestrian, and while the European nations showed plenty of improvements during the qualifiers, they were no match for the American trio that finished top three.
Shawn Flarida capped off his brilliant week with a score of 233.5 and the gold medal, beating Andrea Fappani and Mandy McCutcheon, wife of 2010 champion Tom McCutcheon.
FEI couldn't help but make an overused pun:
The United States Equestrian Federation were beyond impressed with Flarida's final score:
Flarida's execution was flawless throughout the final, dropping a low of 77 that would have been Fappani's second-highest score. He previously set the high mark of the week during the team event with a score of 229.0, but to score over 230 is truly remarkable.
Great Britain's William Fox-Pitt moved himself into the gold medal position with a strong performance in his top event, the Cross Country test, but his victory was overshadowed by the death of one of the team's horses.
Wild Lone rode a clear round for Harry Meade but collapsed shortly after completion. Meade told Horse and Country TV's Victoria Spicer the soft ground had nothing to do with the incident:
In view of the ground conditions and terrain, that played no part in what happened to Wild Lone. He's done six four-star events and he was fit as he could be. He felt extremely comfortable the whole way round and I'd felt I could have asked for more.
I told my father when Wild Lone was a six-year-old that he would be the best cross-country horse there ever was and I think he probably was.
My sympathies are with the owners of the horse, Peter and Charlotte Opperman, who have been great supporters of me over the years and also the sport of eventing.
My thoughts are with my groom Jess Errington who has devoted her life to looking after Wild Lone - he was the most important thing in her life.
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Sunday's Schedule|
|Horse-Ball||Display||7 p.m. BST/2 p.m. ET|
|Eventing||Juming Test||1.30 p.m. BST/8:30 a.m. ET|
The 2014 World Equestrian Games will have another quiet day on Sunday, with only the Jumping test and a horse-ball display on the schedule. Monday will be a rest day, before the Jumping and vaulting competitions start on Tuesday.
Day 5 Update
Another day, another dominant win for Great Britain's Charlotte Dujardin and her magnificent horse, Valegro. The Olympic gold medalist captured her third gold medal of the 2014 Equestrian Games, giving her team a big lead at the top of the medal board in the process.
Sophie Wells completed a day of British dominance by bouncing back from yesterday's disappointing performance and grabbing the silver in the para-dressage Grade IV Freestyle test, giving the team plenty of reasons to celebrate.
The medal tracker for Friday's events:
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Friday's Results|
|Dressage||Freestyle||Charlotte Dujardin (GBR)||Helen Langehanenberg (GER)||Adelinde Cornelissen (NED)|
|Para-Dressage||Grade IV Freestyle||Michele George (BEL)||Sophie Wells (GBR)||Frank Hosmar (NED)|
Dujardin Does it Again
How do you follow up a breathtaking performance in the individual Grand Prix on Day 3? If you're Charlotte Dujardin, you come back two days later to score a mind-blowing 92.161 percent on your World Equestrian Games Freestyle debut, reducing the competition to mere spectators.
FEI's official Twitter feed was in awe, once again:
At this level, things shouldn't come this easy. Valegro was flawless—the routine was just the right mix of daring and perfection, and at the end of the day, judges had no choice but to hand the gold to the sport's newest darling.
You can take that literally. While attendance had been disappointing over the first few days of competition, the Stade d'Ornano was packed for the dressage Freestyle final, as shared by FEI:
Germany's Helen Langehanenberg continued her fine 2014 form by winning silver with 88.288 percent, while the Netherland's Adelinde Cornelissen took the bronze.
But all eyes were on Dujardin, and Dicky Waygood told FEI he thought she looked very relaxed going into the final:
The 29-year-old can now add a World Title to her Olympic and European title, and with Team Great Britain having already secured qualification for the 2016 Summer Olympics, nobody will bet against Dujardin to repeat.
Sophie Wells Redeems Herself With Second Silver
Just one day after missing out on the gold medal by .5 percent in the Grand Prix, Wells bounced back with an excellent performance in the para-dressage Freestyle final, an event she's not a specialist in.
A great ride on Valerius gave her a score of 78.050 percent, good enough for an unexpected silver medal ahead of the Netherlands' Frank Hosmar.
ParaDressage News congratulated the British athlete:
Wells appeared very relaxed as she got ready for her first run, letting go of the pressure that forced her into costly mistakes on Thursday. As she told everyone on Twitter, Friday was all about having fun:
Wells scored top marks in two categories but came up .6 percent short of the gold, which went to Belgium's Michele George, who also took top honours in the Grade IV Grand Prix.
Elsewhere, Germany took the lead in the eventing competition after a strong second day of dressage events.
|Reining||Individual Final||8 p.m. Local|
|Eventing||Cross-Country Test||10 a.m. Local|
Saturday will see just two events take place, but fans will be glued to their seats nonetheless. The individual reining finals are upon us, and several European riders will be looking to crash the American party.
New Zealand and the USA will have a chance to gain on the German team in the eventing competition, with the cross-country test on the schedule.
Day 4 Update
All eyes were on Normandy's beautiful countryside and the Bay of Mont St. Michel for the Endurance race of the 2014 World Equestrian Games, one of the most anticipated events of the entire championship.
FEI Shared this stunning image of the iconic castle:
The para-dressage also offered a gold medal on Thursday, the final day of their individual championship tests.
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Day 4 Results|
|Endurance||/||Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd Al Maktoum (UAE)||Marijke Vissers (NED)||Abdulrahman Saad A. S. Al Sulaiteen (QAT)|
|Para-Dressage||Grade Ib||Sophie Christiansen (GBR)||Sara Morganti (ITA)||Laurentia Tan (SIN)|
|Para-Dressage||Grade IV||Michele George (BEL)||Sophie Wells (GBR)||Frank Hosmar (NED)|
United Arab Emirates' Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohd Al Maktoum dominated the race from start to finish, riding mare Yamamah to first-place in every single phase and winning the gold with ease.
FEI had the result:
The event's Twitter feed shared this beautiful image of the soaked victor at the finish line:
Al Maktoum averaged 19.68 kilometers/hour, finishing in a final time of 8:52:46 seconds, over three minutes faster than silver medalist Marijke Visser from the Netherlands.
Visser was in ninth place after the second phase but mounted an impressive comeback over the final three phases, coming very close to a shock gold medal.
The Netherlands has a strong day overall at the 2014 World Equestrian Games, winning the silver medal in the tam para-dressage grade Ib behind Great Britain. Sophie Christiansen took the gold in the individual event in phenomenal fashion, as shared by Team GBR:
The British athlete scored over a full percent higher than Italy's Sara Morganti, keeping Great Britain firmly at the top of the medal standings.
Compatriot Sophie Wells added another silver in the grade IV earlier in the day, riding Valerius to a score of 74.333 percent to finish just behind Belgium's Michele George.
The favourite took the lead in the early session but made a few costly errors in the afternoon, and she couldn't hide her disappointment in an interview with Lloyd Bell (audio).
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Friday Schedule|
|Dressage||Individual Grand Prix|
|Para-Dressage||Individual Freestyle Test|
|Eventing||Dressage Test Sessiion 3&4|
Friday's main event will be the dressage Grand Prix Freestyle, which will once again feature Britain Charlotte Dujardin who shone earlier during the week in the Special. The para-dressage event will also come to an end with the individual freestyle test, and eventing will continue with their final dressage test sessions.
Wednesday at the World Equestrian Games saw just one medal go up for grabs in Normandy, France—the Dressage Grand Prix Special.
The French weather threatened to put the Games on hold on Day 3, but Great Britain will be thanking their lucky stars that it didn’t, as Charlotte Dujardin romped to gold on the back of Valegro, as we see from the results table below:
|Dressage Grand Prix Special Result|
|Place||Rider/Horse||Score (per cent)|
|1||Charlotte Dujardin (GBR)/ Valegro||86.120|
|2||Helen Langehanenberg (GER)/ Damon Hill FRH||84.468|
|3||Kristina Sprehe (GER)/ Desperados FRH||79.762|
|4||Adelinde Cornelissen (NED)/ Jericho Parzival N.O.P||79.328|
|5||Tinne Vilhelmson Silfven (SWE)/ Don Auriello||78.235|
Valegro Proving Invaluable Once Again
Valegro has been one of the most elegant horses in the world of dressage for many years now, and so he proved once again on Wednesday in Normandy.
Showing power, grace and beauty, Valegro and Dujardin put together a phenomenal performance, scoring 86.120 per cent to blow their opponents out of the water.
Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg took the silver medal with a score of 84.468 per cent, but never looked like pipping the favourite pair to the gold.
While a stunning ride from Valegro, he did make three mistakes early on as the need to go to the toilet served as a distraction, but a strong finished made sure of the gold.
Speaking with Normandy 2014 after the event, Dujardin reflected on her slow start, but revealed that all it really did was make her more determined:
“Later on I tried even harder because I knew I had three big mistakes and was afraid it might have cost me the medal.”
However, get the medal she did, and speaking with the press after claiming gold, she sung Valegro’s praises—per Normandie2014:
The pair were instrumental in securing the team silver for Great Britain on Tuesday, but more glory could well be on the horizon.
The Grand Prix Special also serves as a qualifier for the Freestyle event—a showpiece set to music—which Valegro and Dujardin will compete in on Friday.
Should they produce the goods once again, then another gold could well be going back to Great Britain.
Day 4 Schedule
Wednesday’s action was somewhat of a break for the World Equestrian Games, but a full schedule is back to thrill audiences on Thursday:
|World Equestrian Games Day 4 Schedule|
|7 a.m. BST||Endurance||Endurance Race|
|8:30 a.m. BST||Para-Dressage||2nd Team Test and Individual Championship Test|
|9:30 a.m. BST||Eventing||Dressage Test|
|1:30 p.m. BST||Para-Dressage||2nd Team Test and Individual Championship Test|
|2 p.m. BST||Eventing||Dressage Test|
|2 p.m. BST||Reining||2nd Individual Qualifying Competition|
|6 p.m. BST||Horse Ball||Exhibition Tournament Day 2|
The first medals were passed out on the second day of the 2014 World Equestrian Games, as some of the biggest names in the sport made their first appearance in the competition.
Charlotte Dujardin made good on her status of favourite in the dressage event, riding Valegro to an incredible total of 85.271 percent in the Grand Prix Special qualifier. The result gave Team Great Britain their first medal of the event, and as shared by Olympstats' Hilary Evans, it secured their spot in the 2016 Summer Olympics:
The United States predictably took the gold in the reining competition but Austria shocked the world by leaping over Germany for the bronze, courtesy of a phenomenal first score of 224.
Here's the full medal tracker after two days of competition:
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Medal Tracker|
Charlotte Dujardin Dominates Dressage Event on Day 2
The Olympic gold medalist saw her first action in the event on Tuesday, and as the biggest star in the sport of equestrian, the stadium at Caen was packed to see how she would perform. The 29-year-old didn't just live up to the expectations—with a score of 85.271 percent, she exceeded everyone's wildest dreams.
Desk Jockeys couldn't believe what they had just witnessed:
Dujardin's run on Valegro was flawless. Facing the pressure of the strong German team, she almost made a mockery of the competition. The final difference in score? A lead of more than 3.5 percent on Isabell Werth, and nearly four percent on Helen Langehanenberg.
Only 81.329 percent was needed for Team GB to secure the silver, with the gold already out of reach.
Against a German team that has dominated the team events in recent years, nobody expected anyone would come even close. The final margin of victory was more than 10 percent, with the Netherlands' nearly four percent behind the Brits.
With all of the team events and the qualifiers now out of the way, all eyes will once again turn to Dujardin on Wednesday, with the individual Grand Prix taking centre stage.
USA Take Reining Gold, Austria Shock Germany
The United States successfully defended their title in the reining event, a competition they have dominated since its inception, as shared by the FEI's Twitter account:
Their final score of 677.5 gave them an enormous lead over the Belgians, who were able to keep things close on Monday but collapsed on Day 2 of the event. Their day ended with a respectable score of 663.0, good enough for silver.
The USA had four riders in the top six, with Shawn Flarida taking the top spot with a score of 229.5, 5.5 higher than compatriot Andrea Fappani. The team's Twitter feed was very impressed by his performance:
Germany and Belgium were expected to battle it out for silver, but the German team had a disastrous outing on Tuesday, allowing Austria to sneak into the top three. Martin Muhlstatter surprised everyone with a run of 224.0, powering his team past their German rivals.
The schedule for Wednesday:
|Dressage||Individual Grand Prix Special|
|Para-Dressage||Individual Championship Test|
The reining competition will have a rest day on Day 3, before the second round of individual qualifiers kicks off on Thursday. Individual medals will be available in the dressage event while para-dressage will have its first day of individual championship tests.
The first of two demonstration sports, horse-ball, will also open its account at the 2014 World Equestrian Games.
The first day of the 2014 World Equestrian Games saw plenty of rain and a number of excellent performances in the dressage, para-dressage and reining events. Monday's action gave fans a first glimpse of how the riders would perform in both the team and individual tests and Grand Prix, with reining qualifiers also on the schedule.
Germany dominated the first day of the dressage Team Competition, serving as the qualifiers for the Grand Prix Special event. Kristina Sprehe put together a sensational performance, ending the day with a score of 78.814 percent, as shared by the FEI:
Compatriot Fabienne Lutkemeier chases Sprehe by more than 5 percent, at 73.586, with the Netherlands' Diederik van Silfhout completing the provisional podium with 73.414 percent.
Normandie2014 congratulated Sprehe on her fantastic day:
Gareth Hughes was the highest-ranked member of Team Britain, riding DV Stenkers Nadonna to the seventh spot in the rankings. He told Horse and Hound's Alice Collins his horse "was a little hot" and "delicate going down the centre line," but that overall he "was very happy with her."
All eyes will be on favourite and world No. 1 Charlotte Dujardin when she begins her World Equestrian Games campaign on Tuesday, but following some struggles leading up to the event, a win in Caen may not be a given after all.
Dujardin told The Telegraph's Alan Tyers she's gunning for a medal in the individual event, somewhat surprising for a rider who has won almost every event she's entered since the 2012 London Olympics.
She echoed the same sentiment for the team event, saying: “I would love to win the team event in Normandy, but the Germans have got a very strong outfit, and I don’t think we can beat them.”
Perhaps the 29-year-old is just trying to lower expectations a bit, but either way, she'll be the strong favourite when she begins her first run on Tuesday.
Lee Pearson rode Zion to a win in the Grade lb test with a score of 77.960 percent, as shared by Paradressage News:
The Brit initially seemed to come up short after the judges came to an incorrect score of 74.680 percent, but after a re-count, the pair was given the top spot on the standings, and no rider came close to overtaking them during the afternoon session.
Pearson was ecstatic with the performance, given the state the arena was in due to the weather:
Germany's Hannelore Brenner took the win in the Grade III team test, where Germany might be getting some unexpected competition from the Danish team.
Judging the para-dressage is one of the hardest tasks of the event, as explained in this video from FEI:
The Team tests will continue on Tuesday, before the individual Grand Prix starts off on Wednesday.
The USA took an unsurprising lead in the reining competition on Day 1, with two riders finishing in the top three. Andrea Fappani and Jordan Larson put in great performances, but it was Belgium's Ann Poels who pulled off the surprise of the day.
Her score of 222.5 gave the Belgian team an excellent final score of 439.0 on the day, chasing the American team by just six points. Germany took third with 436.5, and while Team USA will remain the strong favourites for the gold, both European nations once again proved the gap in quality is being bridged at a high pace.
Day 2 Schedule
Here's a look at the schedule for Day 2 of the 2014 World Equestrian Games:
|2014 World Equestrian Games: Day 2 Schedule|
|Dressage||Team and Individual Grand Prix Session 3, 4|
|Para-Dressage||Team Test Day 2|
|Reining||Team Competition and 1st Individual Qualifier Competition Round 2|
Tuesday's action will give fans more of the same, with the third and fourth individual sessions of the dressage Grand Prix taking place.
The second round of the reigning competition will start in the morning, while the para-dressage Team tests will also continue.