By now many who are following the WEG know that Boyd Exell won the dressage and I believe set a new world record with his score of 30.08! I’m not a judge, and was hoping that Chester Weber’s score (and Chardon’s – a tie) would be the top ones, but when Boyd left the arena, there was no doubt in my mind that his was the best test of the competition. The next amazing thing was that Tucker Johnson tied with Theo Timmerman with another identical score: 40.19! Two Americans and two Dutch drivers, so team-wise, the US and The Netherlands are tied for first going into the marathon. Tomorrow is going to be a great day!
At the press conference today, Boyd and Tucker both said that they thought that obstacle 8 would be the most difficult – the most technical and with the hump in the middle, tiring for the horses at the end of the marathon. They also expressed that they thought the open hazards would result in some very fast driving, and with fast driving come mistakes.
Of the US drivers, Mike McLennan and Josh Rector drove in the morning, Tucker Johnson, Cindy O’Reilly and Gary Stover in the afternoon. I thought Josh should have been given a slightly better score (he thought so too!). I also thought that Cindy’s score was a little harsh. The horses glistened and her turnout was lovely. I know that isn’t the most important thing, but she has worked really hard all year and gets the “most improved driver” award in my opinion. But having to follow Tucker probably didn’t help her any.
The top ten drivers drove their teams into the ring at the end of the competition to receive their ribbons for dressage. Watching them do their victory laps is what I live for! To me there is nothing more breathtaking than 40 beautiful horses driven by 10 very happy drivers to the applause of thousands.
Between the morning and afternoon sessions, Len Courtemanche invited a few photographers and journalists to meet the team who actually built these beautiful obstacles. And they are much more attractive now than the first photos I posted because they are fully decorated with flowers and other stuff. They have spent months and months in the cold and wet of winter and hot and dusty months working on these and the craftsmanship is outstanding.
We’ve had several days of cloudless blue skies, and the next two days promise to be the same. It may be a little warm – in the 80s, but the humidity is low because they’ve had very little rain here for a long while.
The marathon doesn’t start until 10 which means that the first driver won’t be in the obstacles until about 11. It’s going to be over way too soon. Because the obstacles are spread out so far, and with so few entries, it is going to be impossible to get to see them all. I’m sure there will be a crowd at the water – # 2, so I’m not going to try and shoot that.
I hope there will be a large crowd. The jumping doesn’t start until evening, so it won’t be a distraction for those who are there for the daytime.
I also have to say that I think I’ve seen almost all my friends in the driving world from this country and abroad in the last few days. Every few minutes I seem to run into someone else whom I haven’t seen in ages! I’m also seeing many friends both from Metamora and Southern Pines. And I think that the entire Southern Pines driving community must be here because three of the drivers are from Southern Pines.