New Zealand jumpers Sam McIntosh and Daniel Meech are through to the second round of competition at the FEI World Individual Jumping Championships at the World Equestrian Games in North Carolina.
It was a massive day for all 119 combinations who tacked the Alan Wade (IRE) course. It was big, technical and very challenging with 30-plus degree heat adding even more pressure and many combinations adding double figures to their tallies. Clear rounds were few and far between with just five leaving everything in place and coming home inside the time allowed, and four picked up a single time fault. Riders each carried their penalties through from yesterday. In the end it was Italian Lorenzo de Luca and Irenice Horata who snatched the top of the leaderboard from overnight leader Steve Guerdat (SUI) aboard Bianca who finished the day in eighth place.
But the toast of the Kiwi camp was certainly Sam McIntosh and Check In 2 who had a single rail for four faults and placed 15th. “We are in a good position going into tomorrow’s round,” she said. “It turned out to be a very tough course today. I am looking forward to getting into the ring tomorrow and have a go at qualifying for (the final on) Sunday.”
Sam felt her 15-year-old stallion had done the best job he could. “He was really fresh after yesterday . . . he backed up both rounds really well and was quite sparky in the warm-up ring. He went in the ring and did his job the best he could today.”
Both Sam and Daniel Meech had the same fence down – the first of the double which was the third to last fence on the track. “That last double is a bit of a joker,” said Sam “It is very delicate, very short and it is at the end of the course where you kind of have to attack a little bit all the way.” She felt Check In 2 had just nicked the fence behind. “Check In just gets better and better. He may be 15 but he feels like an eight or nine-year-old.”
She was grateful to be in the slightly cooler temps of the morning but said she perhaps expected a slightly easier course on the second day. “I would have thought it might have been a little easier for the first round of the Nations Cup before they start making the cut in numbers,” she said.
Daniel Meech and Fine had two rails down and picked up two time penalties to add 10 to his tally and finish in 53rd place. “It’s great to get another go at it,” he said. “It is well deserved for Fine – she was very comfortable on the course and it could so easily have been a four-five fault round. It means a lot to get through. If we could pull out a dream round tomorrow you never know what could happen.”
He was “annoyed” with himself with the second rail at 13a. “I thought Fine jumped great,” he said. “Number two (their first fence down) was a real bummer. I think I probably just should have ridden a tighter line and then let her jump it a bit herself.”
That could have also snipped one time fault off his 10 penalty tally. “That line (into the final double) is very difficult. The colours make it like an optical illusion – you could jump it one day and have it down the next, so even a good horse – or any horse – can have it.”
It was one of the bigger tracks Fine had jumped. “For sure it is probably the most difficult. We have been doing a few 5* – St Gallen was a really big grand prix as well and she had one down there. The Rome grand prix was massive.” He felt Alan Wade’s course today was very technical with light jumps on sand. “It is a very tough course, that is for sure.”
But overall he was very pleased with his mare. “She really tried out there today.”
Bruce Goodin says he wasn’t sure why Backatorps Danny V was so off his usual form. “I don’t know if it was the heat or what. He just wasn’t as sharp as yesterday. I thought we sorted out the smoothness problems quite well but he just felt a bit lethargic out there.”
The horse had warmed up well but picked up 23 faults during the round. “Those first three rails in particular were really cheap rails and ones he normally wouldn’t have, so that is pretty frustrating and annoying. The course is not that huge but it is very technical. Alan Wade uses colours very well . . . there are a lot of traps out there and a lot of faults everywhere.”
The horse will now be put on the market. “He will be a very, very good horse. He is inexperienced to be here but he has a super brain and that is why we thought that it was possible to bring him here. He always tries his heart out.”
Sharn Wordley was gutted to have 24 faults aboard Casper. “The horse felt great this morning when I flatted him and he warmed up fantastically. During the first half of the course he felt very good and then he had a very light rub on the skinny . . . he must have only just had a foot or heel on the tape. He did those two jumps really well.”
Sharn questioned whether the heat had got to the horse. “It is a tough track but the horse has never had five rails down in his life. The score didn’t really reflect how the horse felt,” he said. “I was happy with how I rode and was happy with the horse’s mind doing it . . . we were just a quarter of an inch too low on too many jumps.”
He felt it was a typical Alan Wade course. “He doesn’t kill you and he makes it very careful. Casper tried really hard but I think the heat really sapped him. It is funny because in my mind it didn’t even feel like a bad round and yet the score was really no good. I am extremely disappointed for the horse and the team.”
New Zealand jumping chef d’equipe Helena Stormanns was very pleased with her two top riders and philosophical about Bruce Goodin and Sharn Wordley who won’t be progressing. “That’s the sport.”
Goodin aboard Backatorps Danny V and Wordley aboard Casper both had disappointing days, collecting 23 and 24 penalties respectively. Neither will progress through to the next round tomorrow.
New Zealand placed 18th with just the top 10 going through to the final team round tomorrow. Switzerland are the leading qualifiers with hosts the United States second and Germany third.
For full results, head to www.tryon2018.com/officialresults
The horse details:
Casper – owned by The Sky Group
Check In 2 – owned by Takapoto Equestrian
Backatorps Danny V – owned by Backatorp Ryder AB
Fine – owned by Ann Lewing and Daniel Meech
By Diana Dobson – NZ Team Media Liaison
Photos by Libby Law/ESNZ