August 28, 2014 -- The first day of dressage began on Thursday for the FEI World Team and Individual Eventing Championship at the Le Pin National Stud in Le Pin-au-Haras, France. The Ground Jury made up of Gillian Rolton (AUS), James Alain (FRA), and Ernst Topp (GER) saw 46 combinations perform their dressage tests, three of whom were representing the U.S. Phillip Dutton and Trading Aces had the best score of the day for the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team, with Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM and Sinead Halpin and Manoir de Carneville also having solid performances. All three combinations finished in the top 15 at the halfway mark of the first phase.
The seasoned veteran Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) rode a lovely test on Trading Aces to lead the U.S. contingent to a great first day of dressage. With the Trading Aces LLC's 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding, Dutton used his experience to produce a fluid test with a horse he has only ridden for a few months. The pair had excellent trot work, a nice walk pirouette, and solid canter work to score 43.8 and sit in sixth place at the end of day one of dressage.
"I'm pleased; I'm glad it's behind me," Dutton said of completing the first phase of the Championship. "He is such a cool horse to have the loan of so I'm very, very grateful to Boyd and Silva [Martin] and all the syndicate members for making him available for me for these couple weeks."
Dutton took over the ride on Trading Aces while Boyd Martin recuperated from a broken leg earlier this year and was offered the ride on the talented gelding for these World Championships. The pair has continued to develop its partnership over the summer. Dutton praised his time at the training camp preparing riders to peak on the World stage, and he and Trading Aces seem to have done just that with today's performance.
"It has been good for Oscar and I to get to know each other. He goes on about a three- or four-day cycle where about every fourth day I need to really get him forward and thinking forward, and then I can tone it down, and I think I got that cycle about right today," Dutton explained.
Davidson (Ocala, Fla.) and Ballynoe Castle RM were the first pair to head down centerline for the eventing portion of the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games and they were all business. He and Carl and Cassandra Segal's 2000 Irish Thoroughbred gelding performed a smooth test, demonstrating the strength of their longtime partnership. A nice trot tour, great halts, and clean changes were rewarded with a score of 48.7 to put them in 11th place after the first day of dressage.
"Like Reggie does, he just sort of comes out and gives me 100%," Davidson said. "That's as good as he has gone and I feel like I rode better than I ever have and we got two more days."
Though being the first combination to start the dressage phase is unenviable, Davidson doesn't mind it saying, "I actually like it. I have been first at every major three-day event this year and I don't think it gets more major than this, so why not go for it."
Riding as an Individual, Halpin (Oldwick, N.J.) and Manoir de Carneville had a solid test with one error of course being the only blip in their performance, scoring 50.8. The pair had nice trot work, some tension in their walk work, and good canter work before they went off course. Halpin and the Manoir de Carneville Syndicate's 2000 Selle Francais gelding got back on track and finished strongly to slot into 15th place.
"He felt fantastic; there were moments in there where I just felt like the arena and the crowd picked him up and I started to actually have a bit of fun, which is not normal in there, so I'm very happy with him," Halpin said.
Of the unlucky moment when she went off course following the extended canter, Halpin said, "Unfortunately I was having such a nice time that I forgot where I was going."
In the FEI World Team Eventing Championship, Great Britain leads the way with Germany and New Zealand in second and third place, respectively, following the first day of dressage. William Fox-Pitt (GBR) and Chilli Morning are atop the leaderboard in the FEI World Individual Eventing Championship with a score of 37.5, followed by Michael Jung (GER) and fischerRocana FST in second with a 40.7 and Ingrid Klimke (GER) and FRH Escada JS in third with 41.2.
The Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team enters Friday's competition in fifth place. Severson and Fernhill Fearless will begin the second day of dressage at 9:38am local time. Symansky and Donner will perform their test at 10:26am, and Martin and Shamwari 4 will wrap up the first phase for the U.S. at 3:12pm.
To learn more about the FEI World Team and Individual Eventing Championship at the 2014 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, visit: http://www.normandy2014.com/2014-games/the-disciplines/3/eventing.
Follow the Land Rover U.S. Eventing Team here.