Dutch Dressage Team Top the Leaderboard after Day One of Competition at the World Equestrian Games

Imke Schellekens-Bartels
Imke Schellekens-Bartels and Hunter Douglas Sunrise posted the top score in day one of WEG dressage. Photo: Shawn Hamilton/ClixPhoto.com

It was a wet day at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games for the team Grand Prix and individual qualifying competition in dressage. Plastic ponchos were the fashion statement of the day, but the rain held off for most of the competitors.

The Netherlands took the lead for the first day of dressage competition with two strong rides. Germany sits in second place, followed by Great Britain, the United States and Canada to round out the top five-team rankings at the end of the day.

The Netherlands’ Imke Schellekens-Bartels on Hunter Douglas Sunrise was the leading individual score of the day at 73.44. “My horse, Hunter Douglas Sunrise, is in top shape, so I was very pleased with her, and I think she showed some really, really good stuff. …  I think she was really amazing.”

Schellekens-Bartels revealed that her horse overcame some nerves and distraction from the previous day while practicing in the busy arena. But once she was in the ring alone today, the horse focused on the job at hand, and Schellekens-Bartels was pleased with her performance.

The weather didn’t dampen Shellenkens-Bartels’ spirits either. “It’s like Dutch weather, so I’m really happy,” she said.

Teammate Hans Peter Minderhoud rode the chestnut mare Exquis Nadine to a score of 72.25, currently third in the individual standings. Minderhoud said he was happy with his test, especially since there were some anxious moments after his horse fell going back to the stables on Saturday. “They thought she was not going to make it today,” he said. But Exquis Nadine recovered well, and Minderhoud was pleased with the performance. He praised his mount, calling her “my best horse.”

The team total of 145.70 puts the Dutch in the lead.

Behind the Netherlands, Germany racked up a team score of 140.34. German rider Cristoph Koschel and Donnperignon are currently second in the individual standings with a 72.63. “I was really happy with my horse. He was really on when I came in, and he was really active, athletic, just like I wanted to have it,” Koschel said.

Fellow German rider Anabel Balkenhol had a well-ridden test on the powerful Dablino, instilling confidence in her young horse to ride to a 67.7. “The horse got pretty hot inside. That was his first time in surroundings like that, so he got a little uptight, and the first half was pretty tricky. He cooled down in the canter work.  [The ring is a lot for a horse to handle], especially a young one.”

The third place team was Great Britain with a score of 138.34.

Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Nartan
U.S. rider Katherine Bateson-Chandler is the leading U.S. rider and fifth place overall after day one of dressage. Photo: Bob Langrish

The United States currently sits in fourth place at 136.17. Todd Flettrich and Otto posted a score of 66.55 while Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Nartan rode to a 69.61, placing them fifth in the individual standings.

The U.S. riders had quite a bit of hometown support, with an enthusiastic crowd. However, it didn’t bother the riders. “When you come in and everybody starts cheering, you just have to smile,” said Bateson-Chandler. The nerves go away, and you’re just happy that everybody wants you there.”

“Sometimes that extra enthusiasm from the crowd might get [my horse] more electric, I thought today he loved it,” said Flettrich.

Leading at the halfway point in the competition, the Dutch are not celebrating just yet. “We still have two riders to go tomorrow, and anything can develop. We will see what happens,” said Minderhoud.

All eyes will be on the Netherlands’ Edward Gal and the record-breaking Moorlands Totilas when the dressage team competition continues on day four of the games.

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