The German team, ably assisted by longeur Alexander Hartl, won the first round of the Freestyle while Great Britain's Joanne Eccles and Switzerland's Patrick Looser topped the Technical Tests in the Vaulting Championship at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, USA today.
Germany finished with a score of 7.698 to pin Austria back into second place, and for the host nation there was deep disappointment. The American team, leading after the Compulsory Test, had to interrupt their Romeo and Juliet themed Freestyle when a movement fell apart. There were no apparent injuries however and they went on to complete their test but had to settle for third in the Freestyle and third overall.
"We had horse troubles today - we struggled through out Freestyle because our horse was shying at the TV camera" said US team member and coach, Devon Maitozo. "So every time on one side of the ring he would cut in, and during one of my very high parts, he cut in significantly so we had a major fall. And we had to be careful through the entire thing, so it did affect us" he added.
Maitozo hasn't given up on home-side medal potential however. "Physically we're fine, mentally we'll recover, and on Sunday we have still a great opportunity to take back our lead. We plan on doing that. Our horse is somewhat sensitive to moVement, and we didn't anticipate the camera being so scarey for him" Maitozo pointed out.
However German longeur and trainer Alexander Hartl also has gold in his sights in Sunday's team finale. "The performance went very well today" he said. "We can do a little bit more to perfect it, but this was very good. We will have ot do a little better (in the final round), and we will do it very perfectly. This is our plan!" he insisted.
Looser meanwhile was well-pleased with his result because he says the Technical Test is not his forte. "I know that I can win a Compulsory, I can win a Freestyle and be in front, but a Technical - it's my thing where I have to work on it and I'm really happy that it worked like this today" he said. And he has a great ally in his horse. "I know I have one of the best horses here, and that gives me security. It's nice to vault on him. Today he was slower than days before, but it was still very good. I saw the exact marks from my Freestyle yesterday, and I saw that my degree of difficulty was 10-10-10, although I left two special things out" he explained."
The Swiss rider had only a small advantage over second-placed Kai Vorberg from Germany while Nicolas Andreani from France finished third. Vorberg was pleased with his result. "Today my horse was much more secure. He just made it possible for me to focus on the real moves and the exercises, and that's what I'm really, really grateful for. He was more calm, more focused on his task and he was not distracted and I'm very proud of him. Yesterday we had a tough day, we had to rescue very many things, but today I could concentrate more on showing what I can do on the skills" Vorberg explained.
Eccles won the Female Individual Technical Test with the assistance of her horse Bentley and her father, John, who is her longeur. Germany's Antje Hill and Simone Wiegele finished second and third. The British rider has enjoyed mixed fortunes this week. "The competition has been full of ups and downs" Eccles said. "The first day I did really well, the second day I wasn't happy with my performance so much but today I'm happy again!" she explained. "There's some fantastic competition here" she continued, "it could go any way. There's about seven girls who are at the top, and anyone could take the lead. So if I don't go out there and enjoy it, there's no point in coming to the competition, so my aim is more to have a really good final round and be pleased with myself, rather than see what place I come. Henry (her horse) was really good. He got a little unsettled yesterday when the crowd clapped and then shushed, but today he was perfect" she added.
Vaulting continues tomorrow (Saturday) with the Male and Female Individual Freestyle Finals while the Team Freestyle Final will take place on Sunday.
FEI TV - As well as live competition coverage throughout the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™, FEI TV will make all competitions available post-event via VoD, plus an exclusive daily 30-minute VoD highlights show from the Kentucky Horse Park featuring the best of the day’s action, interviews, previews and reviews. There will also be lots of behind the scenes footage available. Check out www.feitv.org
Facts and Figures:
12 nations competed in the Team Championship
15 competitors lined out in the Male Individual Technical Test
15 competitors lined out in the Female Individual Technical Test
Nicholas Andreani FRA, second in Male Technical Test "The required Compulsory figures were average, the Freestyle yesterday eas excellent and my Technical today could have been a little better. Before I mounted, the horse was being a little playful. But as soon as I stated running alongside him and put my hands on the handles, he calmed down and went to work and did his job".
ALLTECH FEI WORLD EQUESTRIAN GAMES™ - VAULTING CHAMPIONSHIP
Standings after Individual Technical Tests and Team Freestyle:
Male - 1, Patric Looser SUI 8.369; 2, Kai Vorberg GER 8.353; 3, Nicolas Andreani FRA 8.301; 4, Stefan Csandl AUT 8.123; 5, Gero Meyer 8.091; 6, Daniel Kaiser GER 8.051; 7, Petr Eim CZE 8.025; 8, Lukas Klouda CZE 7.291; 9, Dimitri Suhner SUI 7.266; 10, Ross Foreman GBR 7.230.
Female - 1, Joanne Eccles GBR 8.327; 2, Antje Hill GER 8.207; 3, Simone Wiegele GER 8.192; 4, Mary McCormick USA 8.133; 5, Megan Benjamin USA 8.065; 6, Alicen Divita USA 8.025; 7, Christa Kristofics-Binder AUT 8.001; 8, Lisa Wild AUT 7.999; 9, Rikke Laumann DEN 7.916; 10, Anna Cavallaro ITA 7.881.
Team Freestyle - 1, Germany 8.399; 2, Austria 8.338; 3, USA 8.102.
Full results and startlists at www.alltechfeigames.com
Photo Caption: Great Britain's Joanne Eccles won the Individual Female Technical Test in the Vaulting Championships at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Kentucky, USA today. Photo: FEI/Kit Houghton.