France


It may come as absolutely no shock to those of you who follow FEI-level driving, but Australia’s Boyd Exell had a firm handle on the first-place spot after this morning’s dressage session. He is, after all, the two-time defending World Champion … having won the individual gold medal at both the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky and the 2012 World Driving Championship in Riesenbeck, Germany.

With a beautiful dressage test (“just superb,” as I heard a radio announcer behind me in the media stands say when Boyd had finished), he vaulted into the lead with a score of 35.51 penalty points. Soon thereafter, Theo Timmermann (the Netherlands) scored 37.28, putting him in second place (for now!) over his teammate Ysbrand Chardon (42.12).

Chester Weber (USA) will drive his dressage test in just under two hours, so we’ll see how the leaderboard shakes up after that!

Here are a few images from Boyd’s dressage test …

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Many of us who’ve followed FEI-level driving for any number of years will, when hearing the name Lisa Stroud, still conjure up an image of a team of cute gray ponies.

But this time, Lisa’s competing for the U.S. with a team of big, flashy horses. Their dressage test was the very last one on this first day of dressage competition at the 2014 World Equestrian Games. And with a score of 56.10 penalty points, Lisa now stands in ninth place.

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After this first day of dressage, Misdee now stands in thirteenth place, and Gavin’s in sixteenth.

More tomorrow, including both Boyd Exell and Chester Weber!!

 

In preparation for the 2010 World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park, Australian driver Gavin Robson was based for a number of years in Ohio, and he became a familiar face to quite a few U.S. drivers. This year, Gavin’s Australian teammate, of course, is none other than the two-time defending World Champion, Boyd Exell.

Boyd will drive his dressage test tomorrow morning, but Gavin drove his this afternoon. We’re now at the mid-point of the afternoon session, and Gavin currently stands in eleventh place with a score of 62.36 penalty points.

After his test, Gavin said that his team is really young and still a little green. “For the two lead horses, this is the first time in competition with them in the lead, so I am really happy with them.”

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(Most of) the members of our CAA trip to the 2014 World Equestrian Games arrived in Paris on Tuesday morning. Then, after a welcome reception that evening, and after the jet lag had started to wear off, we boarded a bus, bright and early Wednesday morning, for our three-hour drive to Normandy … stopping for lunch in the beautiful little seaside town of Honfleur …

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In the afternoon, we enjoyed a really interesting hours-long tour of the Normandy beaches. Our guide’s amazing breadth and depth of knowledge about the D-Day invasions made the tour especially meaningful. We made a few stops along the way, including one at the American Cemetery, where we were able to explore on our own for a little while.

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At one end of the cemetery is this memorial …

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… at the center of which is a statue representing the youth and spirit of America, rising out of the waves …

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Our final stop was a brief visit to Omaha Beach …

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But, of course, what we’re really here to see is the Driving Championship at the World Equestrian Games … which began just a few short hours ago with the first of four sessions of driven dressage.

Former World Champion Ijsbrand Chardon was the very first to go this morning, and his test earned a score of 42.12 penalty points. He said afterward that he felt his test was the best he’d driven all year but that he was not very pleased with the score.

Currently standing in fifth place after the morning session is the U.S. driver Misdee Wrigley Miller, with a score of 58.05. After her test, she said she was “very, very excited” to be here at the World Equestrian Games. She said that she’d arrived in Europe in April with a slightly different team of horses, but that she fell in love with a particular (new) horse. So, she said, she’s spent the last few months reorganizing the horses in her team, and it all just fell into place in the last couple of weeks.

Through a comedy of errors that I won’t go into here, I didn’t get any photos of Misdee’s dressage test. But I will have my camera trained on the the other two U.S. dressage tests — Lisa Stroud this afternoon, and Chester Weber tomorrow afternoon — and on all three of them during Saturday’s marathon and Sunday’s cones competition. And, we hope, the awards ceremony!!

In the meantime, here’s a view of the leaders of a Spanish team as they trot up the center line …

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A year and about a week ago, A.J. and I were in Normandy for the first time, where we visited several of the beaches, monuments, and cemeteries.

In case you missed it on the blog then, here’s a look back at our visits to Omaha Beach and to Pointe du Hoc and a few other locations.

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