It will be a battle for the Bronze on Tuesday, September 28 for the World Equestrian Dressage team title and the United States is in contention currently sitting in fourth place after the first day of team dressage competition at the 201 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games, in Lexington, Kentucky. Ahead of them in third positin is Great Brittain, and in fifth is USA neighbor team Canada coached by American Olympian Robert Dover. Just one veteran team rider, Steffen Peters and Ravel whose strong finish in 2009 gave them a “buy” from competing in the final selection trial. The new face of American Dressage has strengthened since the National Championships held in August determined the top three riders, Tina Konyot and Calecto V, Todd Flettrich and Otto, and Katherine Bateson Chandler and Nartan. All have have tightened their training under the guidance of team technical advisor and coach Anne Gribbons.
Although not rookies in the sport of dressage, both Todd Flettrich, of Royal Palm Beach, FL, and Katherine Bateson-Chandler, of Wellington, FL, rode in their first championship competition for the United States on the first day of the 2010 Alltech/FEI World Equestrian Games competition for the Dressage Team medals. They set a strong start for the U.S. Dressage Team in the FEI World Dressage Championship. This was the Team Grand Prix competition, and the United States sits in fourth place after the first day of competition. Tina Konyot/Calecto V and Steffen Peters/Ravel will complete the U.S. scores tomorrow when the class resumes at 8:30 a.m. for part 1, and 2 p.m. for part 2.
Flettrich was the first U.S. competitor in the ring today, and he and Otto, a 14-year-old Danish gelding by Rambo x Rampal, had good scores for a total of 66.553%. Flettrich said of his test, "I was quite pleased with it. I had a few mistakes. I think I had a mistake in the one tempis, and of course the last centerline. His forte is piaffe/passage. I came down the centerline and I brought him a little quicker to the piaffe. I thought he was there and I relaxed for a second and he said, 'Okay!' and he just halted. It was an honest mistake and unfortunate. It cost me a lot of points and I had some really beautiful scores before that."
There was a very enthusiastic crowd at the Main Stadium today, but Flettrich felt that it did not faze Otto. "Actually, I was quite pleased with him," he agreed. "He was fairly relaxed going around. He's an athlete and has a desire to really please. He's always eager to work. Sometimes that extra enthusiasm from the crowds might get him a little more electric, but I thought today he handled it and loved it."
Following his first championship performance, he stated, "I thought for my first time on the team, I did a very good job. It's fabulous to ride for the team. We have a great team and it's been the time of my life. I hope I get to do it again."
The scores for Flettrich and Otto, owned by Margaret Duprey and Cherry Knoll Farm Inc. were as follows: E - Ghislain Fouarge (NED) 64.9% H- Linda Zang (USA) 67.4% C - Stephen Clarke (GBR) 67.2% M - Cara Witham (CAN) 66.8% B - Dr. Evi Eisenhardt (GER) 66.4% Total 66.553%
For Katherine Bateson-Chandler, actually riding in a World Equestrian Games is something that she has "always dreamed of doing." As the groom for six-time U.S. Olympian Robert Dover, Bateson-Chandler has extensive experience being at a championship show, but this is her first time on the U.S. Dressage Team.
"I did two World Championships, and my first big championships grooming was in The Hague. It's awesome now a few years later to be riding at a World Championships," she related. "We have the most incredible team. We have a rapport like I've never seen on a team before. We're all really close, close friends. We've had the best time ever and it's just been a great experience."
Bateson-Chandler was happy with her test today on Nartan, a 15-year-old KWPN gelding by Jazz x Le Faquin. She described, "His extended canter felt really good. The pirouettes were quite good, and passage felt nice. I had a mistake at the end of my one (tempis). I thought I had it and he threw an extra one in, so I had to do a change back. I was disappointed because they actually felt the best they've felt in the ring. The two (tempis) felt nice."
Bateson-Chandler and Nartan, owned by Jane Clark, received the following scores: E: 70.0% H: 69.6% C: 70.6% M: 67.0% B: 70.9% Total: 69.617%. Bateson-Chandler felt that the electricity of today's spectators was exhilarating. "It was exciting," she concurred. "When you come in and everybody starts cheering, you just have to smile. The nerves go away and you're just happy that everybody wants you there. I was excited to be here. I had two expensive mistakes, but other things that I've had issues with were good. I'm thrilled with my horse, and I'm glad I didn't get nervous. I didn't know because I've never really done a big international show before."
Dressage continues tomorrow and the United States will have National Grand Prix Champions Tina Konyot and Calecto V competing as well as 2009 World Cup Final Champions Steffen Peters and Ravel in the anchor position. With the Netherlands in the lead, followed by Germany and Great Britain anything can happen as the team strongholds will determine who will take to podium. The stakes are high for the USA whose Bronze medal win will secure a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games.