SARAH WARDELL yesterday took the first step in making up for an aborted effort with Kincluny earlier this month at Burghley, by taking poll position on day one of the CCI three-star at Ballindenisk, Co Cork.
The Kildare-based rider produced a fluid dressage test with her experienced campaigner to score 51.8 penalties, going top of the eight-horse field.
Understandably, a relaxed and smiling Wardell preferred not to revisit her recent trip to Burghley, where she retired on the cross-country, but she conceded it had given her extra reason to do well at Ballindenisk.
“He never got into his stride at Burghley, so I retired at the first water. I’m definitely trying to make up for it here. Usually, he is very tense in dressage, but today, he felt very good. The Cork grass must have relaxed him,” joked Cheshire-born Wardell.
She said the 15-year-old, home-bred Kincluny, who has completed Badminton twice, was in no-way past his prime, but said he was returning from injury.
“He injured his suspensory ligament at Blenheim last year and was out until last month,” explained the 38-year-old, who lives in Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, and who represented Ireland at the World Equestrian Games with her gelding in 2006.
Wardell said “it would be great to win here, considering the amount of work that goes into this sport”.
She recognised, though, that she will need to be at her best if this weekend is to be payback time as she is just 1.6pens ahead of Jim Newsam on Magennis, who carried him to third in the CIC three-star at Ballindenisk last April. The Northerner’s test yesterday with the Limmerick-sired eight-year-old gelding was scored at 53.4pens, while Rachel Ferres and CCH Allure are hovering in third on 55.8pens.
In fact, less than 10 penalties separate first and last, but Wardell remains confident: “Kincluny is good cross-country. The course looks fabulous and, while there are plenty of areas where mistakes could occur, I’m really looking forward to getting out there. In show jumping, he is sometimes spooky, but he’s also careful and,thankfully, I know all the right buttons to press.”
Dressage continues today in Ballindenisk, though the eight contesting the CCI three-star have a day off until tomorrow’s cross-country. Show jumping will decide the placings on Sunday, when the focus will also be on family fun, with free pony rides, a dog competition, a hound parade and a petting farm.
lIRELAND show jumping team manager Robert Splaine this week finalised his team for the Alltech World Equestrian Games in Kentucky, adding Dermott Lennon and Hallmark Elite to his previously named threesome of Denis Lynch (Lantinus or Nabab’s Son), Cian O’Connor (K Club Lady) and Corkman Billy Twomey (Tinka’s Serenade or Je t’Aime Flamenco).
It is the same quartet that won the German Nations Cup in July and, while Lennon subsequently went off the boil, Splaine noted that the Co Down rider’s third place in last Saturday’s Madrid Grand Prix “indicates a return to form for the combination”.
Corkman Splaine also said he expects to augment his squad for WEG.
“I may name a reserve or two in the coming days,” said Splaine.
Splaine said that the main objective at WEG was to qualify for the 2012 Olympics by finishing in the top five, excluding Olympic hosts Britain.
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