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A Mixed Day for the Kiwis at World Champs

A Mixed Day for the Kiwis at World Champs

New Zealand eventer Tim Price sits in fourth place at the end of the first day of dressage at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France today.

Aboard Wesko (owned by Christina Knudsen, Peter Vela, Lucy Sangster and Kate Watchman) Price scored 42.2 penalty points, to put them well in touch with leaders William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Chilli Morning who sit on 37.5.

Persistent rain has left sticky and very boggy mud that will undoubtedly take its toll on Saturday's cross country course at Haras du Pin.

“It is a beast of a thing,” Price said of the Pierre Michelet-designed course, “but I am looking forward to tackling it. It is a pretty strong test out there and conditions will play their part. He has used the terrain incredibly well and it will be a real test.”

Price has no qualms that Wesko, a Dutch bred gelding, will give his all on the cross country.

“He just loves to gallop and loves cross country in every way,” he says. “We haven't had a competition yet where he hasn't been coming through the finishing flags strongly – he is so willing and loves his job.”

Price was rapt with his efforts in the dressage.

“He is a young horse at this level . . . but he just put his best foot forward and his general way of going was amazing. I am really excited about what he is going to be able to produce in the future.”

Sir Mark Todd was the only other eventer in action today, with his 49.2 efforts aboard Leonidas II (owned by Peter Cattrell and Di Brunsden) putting him in 12th spot with 46 of the field through.

Tomorrow will see the remaining four Kiwi riders complete their dressage – Andrew Nicholson, Nereo (owned by Libby Sellar), Jock Paget on Clifton Promise (owned by Frances Stead and Russell Hall), Lucy Jackson, Willy Do (owned by Mark, Gillian and Charlotte Greenlees) and Jonelle Price, Classic Moet (owned by Trisha Rickards).

Also competing today were New Zealand's endurance team and para-dressage rider Anthea Dixon.

Despite a near perfect preparation for the games, none of the five endurance riders made it home in atrocious weather conditions, which some say was the worst ever for a major championship.

Georgia Smith (Mangaweka) and Glenmore Vixen were vetted out after the first loop, followed by Susie Latta (Otago) on Tkiwa and Braden Cameron (Wellington) on Karamea Krusader at the end of the second.

Andrea Smith (Mangaweka) and Glenmore Tariq looked to be going strongly until a stumble saw her fall, breaking three ribs and putting her out in the third loop.

Alison Higgins (Nelson) and Northwinds Apollo (owned by Chris King) rode a brave race, but the clock was against them and they were forced to stop at the end of the fourth loop after more than 10 hours on the course.

Chef d'equipe Tony Parsons said the team had been well prepared for the ride, but the conditions had made it a tough event for all.

The 160km ride at Sartilly was won by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mahomad Al Maktoum aboard Yamamah, in eight hours, eight minutes and 28 seconds, followed by Dutch rider Marijke Visser and Laiza de Jalima in 8.19.07. Spain won the team gold, heading home France and Switzerland – the only three countries with three riders left in the ride.

Just 38 of the 170-plus riders completed the event.

Anthea Dixon finished her world games with a disappointing 66% in the grade two individual championship this afternoon, which put her in 10th place.

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