Rolex Recap: Dressage day 2

John reports that Allison Spring and Arthur stole the dressage lead at Rolex despite several really nice rides from their competitors on Friday afternoon.

Top photo: Allison with a fist pump after her ride Friday morning

From John: Allison Springer and Arthur   Clark Montgomery and Loughen Glen moved into third on a 43.2 behind William and Parklane Hawk.  Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen competed with the poise and style that I would expect from them.  Glenny was wonderfully presented by Clark with superb trot and walk work and he looked like anything but a Rolex rookie. Their canter work brought their score down a bit and I think Clark is still developing that gait.  They scored an impressive 43.2 and are in great position to improve their Olympic resume going into the weekend–a consistent clean ride is what Clark needs tomorrow.

Karen O’Connor and Mr. Medicott also put themselves in great position to prove that they have formed a strong partnership this spring.  Karen got the absolute most she could out of Mr. Medicott today, as Karen usually does with her rides, and they go into the XC on a 44.2.   Mr. Medicott needs to develop more suspension and jump in his gaits over the summer to be in winning form for London, but that’s being pretty picky about a test that is in 4th place at Rolex on Friday night.

Final Rolex Dressage Scores:
1. Allison Springer and Arthur 39.8
2. William Fox-Pitt and Parklane Hawk (GBR) 41.3
3. CLark Montgomery and Loughan Glen 43.2
4. Karen O’Connor and Mr. Medicott 44.2
5. Jonathan Paget and Clifton Promise (NZL) 44.8
6. Boyd Martin and Remington 45.3
7. Micahel Pollard and Icarus 46.7
8. Lucy Wiegersma and Granntevka Prince (GBR) 47.5
9. Karen O’Connor and Veronica 47.8
10. Andrew Nicholson and Calico Joe (NZL) 48.7
[Full Rolex Dressage Scores]

Karen and Mr. Medicott, photo with kind permission of Lesley Ward

Big fields lead to tightly packed leader boards.  57 horses rode dressage and the top 14 places are separated by less than ten points.  38 horses are within 20 penalties of the lead.  As always, we’ll have to see how the time rides tomorrow but a clean and fast ride is going to rocket you up the leader board and the opposite is true for a mistake.

As for other notable afternoon rides, Jonathan Paget of New Zealand produced a rhythmical test with Clifton Promise to score a 44.8.  Jonathan is part of New Zealand’s very strong squad working their way towards London.  Two of New Zealand’s four pairs at Rolex are in the top 10 after dressage.  Great Britain has two pairs in the top 10 and the USA owns 6 of the top 10 placings after the dressage.

Rolex 2006 champion Andrew Hoy rode a good test aboard the handsome Rutherglen.  They are well back with a 56.5 but as we all learned in the 2006 show jumping, anything can happen and two clean rounds would put them in great position.

Michael Pollard and Icarus

Icarus, one of many terrific OTTBs in this Rolex field, delivered yet another good dressage test with Michael Pollard.  Michael and Icarus go into the cross-country in 7th and Michael will look to move up with quick rounds on both Icarus and Wonderful Will, who sites in 26th.

The reign of mares at Rolex continued Friday afternoon with nice tests from Qwanza and Demeter.  I have to think that more mares are competing at Rolex this year than any previous year, which is awesome to see and good news down the road for event horse breeding enthusiasts.  Andew Nicholson is great fun to watch on the cross-country but I also enjoy watching him on the flat.  He rode the mare Qwanza to a 55.8 that I felt should have scored better.  Demeter impressed the judges with great movement and Marilyn rode a very disciplined test to score a 49.0.  Both of Marilyn’s horses at Rolex are very nice movers, but Marilyn added accuracy to movement today which led to much the better score.

6 riders were assessed errors in the Rolex dressage, half of them for entering the arena after the 45 second post-bell time limit.  Even the always cool Phillip Dutton arrived late to the arena.  I can’t imagine how tough it must be to execute a test under so much pressure with so much to think about, but all 6 of those riders know they left some easy points on the table.

Speaking of Phillip, Mighty Nice impressed all of us on the live blog as a horse for the future.  He handled the Rolex pressure with complete relaxation and ears flopping with the rhythm of his supple gaits.  They scored a 58.7 for 34th place, two spots ahead of Phillip and Fernhill Eagle.   Announcer Nigel Casserly noted that amazingly Phillip has ridden in every Rolex since the event became a four-star.  Mighty Nice looks like a great Normady horse for Phillip and a good Olympic backup.

I would say the exact same about Otis Barbotiere, Boyd’s flying French wonder.  The test was right on the edge of being really nice.  A few less accurate moments showed that maybe Otis was focusing some of his attention on the atmosphere, but all in all Boyd should be really please with this young horse’s performance and they are certainly right in the thick of things at this point.  Boyd and Otis enter the XC tied for 16th on a 51.

Sal Dali was tense from the start and gave Beth Perkins absolutely no chance.  They had a disastrous test that scored an 84 as all of us rode along with Beth willing Sal Dali to cooperate.  Beth received a nice supportive cheer after the test and we’ll all be cheering this pair on for a better two phases this weekend.

Notes from the press conference:

Allison said that she knows what she has to do to produce a good result tomorrow and she’s ready to go out and do that.  As for the course, Allison said that Derek Di Grazia has designed a beautiful course.  She emphasized the importance of riding the right line in this course.  Allison called it a “beautifully designed and beautifully built course.”

Clark said that Loughan Glen is a young horse but he is always trying to please.  He said that desire to please is what made him able to focus today in the dressage despite the atmosphere.  Clark said “he needs to gain confidence more than he needs to win this event” and that that mentality will shape his riding.

William said he thinks it’s a “clever course,” that it’s very well presented, and that it’s a very imposing track.  He explained “when you get to the third to last you will certainly know you have jumped a four-star.”  He also said his goal was to keep Parklane Hawk jumping well one fence at a time.

Go eventing.

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