This genuinely international contest proved to be a huge attraction with (for the UK) undreamt of numbers of keen spectators attending. Figures over the four days peaked on Saturday, when the marathon and obstacle driving took place.
Dressage is the most important phase of any outdoor horse driving trials competition. If a competitor is not in the first six, it will be extremely difficult to catch up. If the dressage leader is ten points ahead of you, you must be seven seconds faster in every obstacle.
The winner of dressage, Chester Weber, USA, scored 33.31 penalties. Georgina Hunt, ‘G’, for Great Britain had an excellent score of 55, but she needed to drive each obstacle 15 seconds faster than Chester to get even. Pippa Bassett’s dressage score was 65 and Daniel Naprous’ 72.
The marathon winner was Sweden’s Thomas Eriksson in almost 412.91 seconds (50.56 – 14th in dressage; Boyd Exell was second, less than a second slower than Thomas.
Pippa Bassett drove a brilliant marathon, coming 16th out of 50 competitors from 19 countries: a great achievement. After the dressage and marathon, Boyd Exell took the lead over Chester Webber by almost 14 penalties, giving him more than four cones in hand. Despite his speed, Thomas Eriksson was now seventh, over 16 penalties behind Boyd. Pippa Bassett was 18th, 167.94, and G 25th, 174.23
Obstacle cones driving was on the last day and the line of the 20 cones was a difficult one to drive. The last, cones 19 to 20, proved a test for the top rein-handling experts. Only Werner Ulrich, Switzerland, and Josef Dobrovitz, Hungary, managed to clear all the cones in the time of 185 seconds: just two out of the 49 competitors!
Pippa went clear – one of only ten drivers – but with time faults, finishing 19th, and G 23rd. Daniel Naprous, who was planning to go as an individual originally, was 44th out of 46 finishers: his first time competing at the World Championships. It was a great team effort and everyone, especially Simon Heath, their new Chef d’Equippe, put in an Olympian performance