London Prepares Series (GBR), 6 July 2011 – Great Britain’s Piggy French held firm to scoop the honours in the Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational (CIC**) today with a fabulous double-clear jumping performance from DHI Topper W. Germany’s Michael Jung (River of Joy) finished second ahead of Britain’s Pippa Funnell (Billy Shannon) in third, but all the athletes were in agreement that the real winner of the Olympic Test Event has been Greenwich Park, the fabulous London venue which will host next summer’s Olympic equestrian events.
“Of course it was special to win here – we are all competitive and it was great for a British rider to put a stamp on it – but this has really been about checking things out before next summer’s Games and from that point of view it’s been a huge success,” said French this afternoon. In the lead from the outset on Monday, she had a heart-stopping moment this morning when DHI Topper W was held over during the final horse inspection, but in the end nothing could prevent her from claiming the top step of the podium.
FIRST TIME OUT A total of 35 riders lined out in the final jumping phase, but just 12 managed to stay clear first time out. Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt lost her grip on second spot with a single mistake from her talented young mare, the seven-year-old Mrs Medicott, and Clayton Fredericks, lying overnight fourth for Australia, slipped from contention when Bendigo did likewise. This allowed Michael Jung to move into runner-up spot, but French had a fence in hand as the closing stages were played out. Funnell, now in third with the handsome Kannan mare Billy Shannon, piled the pressure on the two ahead of her with a lovely tour of the second-round track. Jung didn’t flinch to stay clean and the pressure was all on French when last into the arena. Setting off in a quiet rhythm however the 30-year-old rider calmly held her nerve to take the win she well deserved.
“Topper has matured so well over the last few months – he could be a contender for next year,” French said afterwards. “That’s still a long way away and horses are great levellers so who knows what can happen between now and then, but I reckon he’s got what it takes. I just hope we haven’t peaked too early!”
London Prepares Series (GBR), 5 July 2011 – Great Britain’s Piggy French and DHI Topper maintained the lead they established in the dressage arena yesterday with a superb cross-country run at the Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational (CIC**) in London (GBR) today.
They go into tomorrow’s final jumping phase with more than a fence in hand over Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Mrs Medicott, one of just five horse-and-rider partnerships to complete the 19-fence course without penalty, while Michael Jung lies close behind in third with River of Joy. Despite setting off at a ferocious gallop, the German who took the individual title at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky collected 0.40 time faults as the testing terrain took its toll. The addition of 1.20 time penalties saw Australia’s Clayton Fredericks and Bendigo drop two places to fourth. French is the only one with any real breathing space at the top of the order however.
BLAZING SUNSHINE The cross-country took place in blazing sunshine over a course of 19 fences and using only part of the track that will be used in 2012. And while riders agreed that the twists and turns were not ideal as they followed the magic carpet of specially-prepared ground through the historic city venue, the “wow” factor of competing right in the heart of London couldn’t be denied.
BRITAIN’S PIGGY FRENCH LEADS AFTER DRESSAGE by Louise Parkes
London Prepares Series (GBR), 4 July 2011 – Great Britain’s Piggy French and DHI Topper W hold the lead after today’s dressage phase of the Greenwich Park Eventing Invitational (CIC**) in London. From a starting field of 39 runners, the 30-year-old Briton, who took individual silver at the 2009 FEI European Eventing Championships, produced a great score of 34.70 which leaves her with a six-point advantage over Australia’s Clayton Fredericks (Bendigo) in second place, while Germany’s world champion Michael Jung (River of Joy) lies third going into tomorrow’s cross-country phase which begins at 11 am local time.
Greenwich Park is alive with excitement, and the arena, built on a specially-designed platform in order to provide a level surface on this hilly site, has come in for significant praise. “Greenwich is such a unique location and there’s a huge buzz about it – it seems a very horse-friendly place!” French said this evening. Fredericks was delighted with how well his horse handled the atmosphere, especially since Bendigo may be his mount for London 2012. “I deliberately brought him here with next year in mind,” he explained. “And this is a great opportunity to get all of our officials together and to do some team-building – we Australians don’t often get an opportunity to do that,” he pointed out.
Jung, individual gold medallist at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, is intrigued by the Cross Country terrain. “It’s very interesting, a big part of the course goes up and down and there are many jumps but only five minutes to ride them. We will need to quickly find a rhythm – it’s great to get the chance to compete here before next year,” he said.
Lausanne (SUI), 18 June 2011 – Piggy French (GBR) galloped through pouring rain on her appropriately named 10-year-old Irish gelding Flying Machine to take the lead after Cross-Country at Luhmühlen, presented by E.ON Avacon (GER), the third leg of the HSBC FEI Classics.
The leaderboard has changed substantially and now the cost of just one Jumping fence covers the top four riders, ensuring a thrilling day’s sport tomorrow. French is highly competent in this phase, but she has no margin for error if she is to score her longed-for first CCI4* victory.
“I have not managed to run the horse as often as you would like to before a four-star, but the shock treatment seems to have worked!” said French. “I am very excited about how he coped with it all. I am lucky to have many lovely horses to ride and when you have a day like this, it’s a bonus. The rain was unbelievable, and my gloves were heavy with water so I got rid of them, but it was no better without them!”
The home side’s Sandra Auffarth (GER) had the ride of her life to move up a place to second on the nine-year-old Selle Francais Opgun Louvo, the horse she rode into third place in the 2009 Young Horse Championships at Le Lion d’Angers (FRA). The German rider was making her four-star debut and it will be quite a story if she snatches victory tomorrow – and she says her horse is a good jumper.
Lausanne (SUI), 23 April 2011 – A trio of British girls head the leaderboard after the Dressage phase at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials (GBR), the first leg of the HSBC FEI Classics 2011.
Ruth Edge (GBR), in pole position with the excellent score of 33.3 penalties on the 17-year-old Two Thyme, winner at Luhmühlen in 2007, is no stranger to the limelight in this phase – indeed, she regularly wins national titles in this discipline.
“There’s always a lot of pressure on me here and I’m anxious not to let anyone down because it’s a lot of work to get this horse here,’ she said. “But he was awesome today and belied his age. As he’s older, I hadn’t done much work with him this week and, as a result, he felt physically fresh.”
Piggy French (GBR), second, had the distinction of scoring the only 10 of the competition, awarded by Ground Jury President Anne-Mette Binder (DEN) for her halt on Jakata, and it was greeted by a deafening roar of approval from the packed stands.