From EN: Team USA in Bronze Medal Position at WEG After Dressage

From Eventing Nation: a boots-on-the-ground report after the dressage phase of eventing at WEG.

Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces. Photo by Jenni Autry.

From Eventing Nation:

Team USA came to WEG to #stormnormandy and #bringbackthegold, and so far, things are going according to plan. All four team members — and our two individuals — are sitting in the top 50 after putting in strong dressage tests in a 90-horse field. Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces lead the way as the only pair in the top 10, tied for ninth on a score of 43.8.

Boyd Martin and Shamwari are in equal 17th place on 46.3, followed by Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM in 28th on 48.7 and Lynn Symansky and Donner in 47th of 53.0. Our individuals, Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville and Kim Severson and Fernhill Fearless, are tied for 30th place on 50.8.

While we definitely gave up some marks in the dressage today, that team score of 138.8 puts the U.S. in bronze medal position behind leaders Germany on 116.9 and New Zealand on 125.5. France is hot on our heels in fourth with 139.9, and you can certainly never count out Great Britain, sitting in fifth on 142.0.

But there’s still plenty to do tomorrow, and with muddy conditions turning Pierre Michelet’s difficult track into a serious ask, anything could happen out there. Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM are first out, which is not ideal considering the questionable footing, as it’s difficult to anticipate exactly how the course will ride.

Reggie is an extremely experienced cross-country horse, and Buck knows him well. The real question is what sort of strategy Team USA will hash out tonight given Buck’s place in the order of go. Though the footing here has a sandy base, it’s already drying tacky in spots, and William Fox-Pitt said in this afternoon’s press conference that the tackiness could be a factor.

And let’s not forget Badminton this year, when rain soaked the course but things dried up enough before cross country to make for holding, tiring ground. Time ended up being a total non-issue then, with no one coming home inside the optimum; the goal simply became getting around. That could ultimately be the case tomorrow, with WEG becoming Badminton 2.0.

The good news is Team USA brought some of our very best cross-country horses to Normandy, and all of these combinations are more than up to the challenge. We are three clear trips away from retaining our current bronze medal position. And if the course shakes thing up as much as everyone anticipates it will, the door is wide open to improve on that.

Cross country starts at 10 a.m. local time, or 4 a.m. EST, and the only live stream in the U.S. and Canada is available on FEI TV. Be sure to follow along on EN via our open thread, which we’ll post in the morning, as well as on Twitter @eventingnation. And don’t forget to cheer loudly for Team USA wherever you are in the world. #webelieve

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