By Luke Norman
German Eventer Julia Krajewski treated the sun-drenched spectators at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ Tryon 2018 (WEG) to one of the great dressage rides of all time as she finished a thrilling first day 7.2 points clear of the field.
The German and her mount Chipmunk FRH have been in scintillating form in the dressage arena this season and the duo lived up to their billing as one of the favourites for gold with a mark of 19.90 – the third best dressage score ever recorded at a WEG.
Home hero Boyd Martin fed off the packed stands to saunter his way to second place, with a score of 27.10, while Great Britain’s Piggy French lies third, just 0.70 points behind. The second half of the field in the Mars eventing dressage will go on Friday in Tryon Stadium.
“I am quite relieved,” said Krajewski, who has twice recorded scores of 19 in dressage this season. “Everybody knows that we can do 19 in dressage, nobody says that they expect it but secretly they joke about it and you feel the pressure a little bit.
“The aim from now on is to keep my points.”
Team champions in 2006, Germany are currently once again top of the leaderboard with a score of 50.10. Ominously for the rest, Germany’s 2014 individual WEG gold medallist Sandra Auffarth is among those yet to ride.
Out straight after Krajewski, the USA’s Martin and his 11-year-old gelding Tsetserleg thrived in the fevered atmosphere.
“The crowd erupted when he went in there because he is an American horse, it almost picked him up a notch,” Martin said with a laugh. “He can fall behind the leg a bit so the cheers I quite enjoyed. I had a giggle to myself which probably just killed my nerves for a second.”
The USA sit sixth in the team standings but just 4.3 points separates them and second-placed Australia, with France, Great Britain and New Zealand, many people’s tip for the team title, lying in-between.
Blyth Tait and Sir Mark Todd, gold medal winners at the very first WEG held in Stockholm in 1990, have gone for the New Zealanders but Tim and Jonelle Price, winners of the 2018 Burghley and Badminton horse trials respectively, are among those expected to sparkle when the action resumes at 09:00 on Friday.