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Simone Deitermann (GER) and Free Easy NRW are well known for their ability in the Dressage arena, but the German rider still said it felt “amazing” to be in the lead on her first visit to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials (GBR), second-last leg of the HSBC FEI Classics™.
“My horse was quite nervous,” she explained, “and he is not used to performing on a grass arena.”
Despite that, an excellent performance resulted in a score of 39.3 penalties, just 0.4 ahead of the first-day leader William Fox-Pitt (GBR) on Parklane Hawk.
Deitermann, 30, who was 12th at Badminton last year, missed out on the thrilling German domination at the HSBC FEI European Championships last weekend because she and Free Easy NRW had experienced problems in the build-up, including a fall at Bramham CCI3* (GBR).
“This is my chance to qualify for the London Olympic Games,” explained Deitermann, who was third after Dressage at the FEI Alltech World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky last year before suffering a Cross Country fall at the last fence.
She has walked the Cross Country at Burghley with German team trainer Chris Bartle and says: “It is beautiful, but I think it will be quite tough for me.”
Mary King (GBR), who is lying third on her second ride, Rolex Kentucky winner Kings Temptress, likes the more old-fashioned look to Mark Phillips’s course.
“It’s a great course, especially for first-timers, as it should teach them to ride on over big fences, go for a forward stride and get their horses jumping out of their strides, which is how Cross Country riding should be. Sometimes, with the more technical courses, less experienced riders worry too much about getting a clear round at their first attempt and do not ride forward.”
However, King also warned: “You might think that the course is simpler because it’s less technical, but I thought that at last weekend’s European Championships and ended up biting mud!”
Andrew Nicholson (NZL), who is in fourth and fifth places with his two horses, also suffered a fall last weekend, at a national competition. However, he did not let a painfully swollen hand affect his performance on his world bronze medallist Nereo, scoring two 9s for his riding to post a final mark of 42.3.
He is sharing fifth place with last year’s winners, Caroline Powell (NZL) and the 18-year-old Lenamore, who certainly doesn’t behave like an older horse. As soon as his rider left the arena, she was quick to put the neck-strap back on for security as the little grey horse is not above spooking and shying on the way back to the stable.
Riders are viewing tomorrow’s day of action positively, because the ground is superb, but as Fox-Pitt conceded, “with some trepidation. It should ride well, and both my horses should be well capable of it, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
A capacity crowd is clearly warming up for the big day – several members of the public have been spotted photographing the enormous ditch – which comfortably fits a Land Rover – at the Cottesmore Leap (fence 21).
Follow all the action on www.burghley-horse.co.uk
Results after Dressage
1 Simone Deitermann/Free Easy NRW (GBR) 39.3
2 William Fox-Pitt/Parkland Hawk (GBR) 39.7
3 Mary King/Kings Temptress (GBR) 42.2
4 Andrew Nicholson/Nereo (NZL) 42.3
5 =Andrew Nicholson/Avebury (NZL) 42.8
5= Caroline Powell/Lenamore (NZL) 42.8
7 Elizabeth Power/Kilpatrick River (IRL) 43.3
8 Mary King/Apache Sauce (GBR) 44.8
9 Laurence Hunt/Phoebus (GBR) 45.3
10= Sam Griffiths/Happy Times (AUS) 45.5
10= William Fox-Pitt/Neuf des Couers (GBR) 45.5
Zara Phillips: http://www.lloydbell.co.uk/access/client_zone/BUR_Zara_d.MP3