Photo caption: Defending Eventing world champion Michael Jung (GER) and the nine-year old mare FisherRocana FST pictured at the first horse inspection at the historic Haras du Pin today. (Trevor Holt/FEI)
Anticipation builds for a bumper Eventing competition
By Kate Green
The stage is set for a truly memorable Eventing competition at Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy at the historic venue of Haras du Pin, where the first horse inspection took place this afternoon against the magnificent backdrop of the chateau built by Louis XlV.
A record 91 horses representing 27 nations will start the competition, with the Dressage phase beginning at 9.3 CEST tomorrow.
One sad omission will be Sweden's Ludwig Svennerstal, a member of the silver medal team at the FEI European Eventing Championships last year and an individual medal prospect here in Normandy. His horse, Alexander, was withdrawn from the holding box, which means Sweden is down to a team of three riders.
The sole Hungarian horse, My Win, ridden by Làszlò Egyed, and Russia's Pinokolada (Yuri Shumskiy) were also sent to the holding box but were accepted.
The first rider to come before the Ground Jury – President Gillian Rolton (AUS), Alain James (FRA), and Ernst Topp (GER) – tomorrow morning will be the USA's Buck Davidson on Ballynoe Castle RM.
The Badminton winners Sam Griffiths (AUS) and Paulank Brockagh will go first for Australia. Zara Phillips (GBR), the 2006 world champion, is first for Great Britain on High Kingdom and the New Zealand maestro Sir Mark Todd (NZL) is trailblazer for New Zealand on Leonidas ll.
The Germans have been drawn last of the teams and, for the first time, their defending champion Michael Jung (GER) will act as pathfinder.
Jung has not been able to bring his Olympic, world and European champion La Biosthetique Sam due to a last-minute minor injury, but he will present just as much of a threat to other nations on his second-choice horse, the nine-year-old mare FisherRocana FST, on which he finished second at the FEI Classics™ leg at CCI4* Luhmühlen (GER) in June.
Riders will have been assessing Pierre Michelet's cross-country course, which runs on an undulating track underneath the chateau and should provide a great spectacle. It will comprise 44 jumping efforts in 11 minutes 30 seconds. The Ground Jury has removed one sheep shelter obstacle from the penultimate fence.