Alexander Bragg admitted that his dressage mark of 31 on Zagreb hadn’t left him quite where he would have liked, but the pair now have some established form behind them and could expect to rise up the leaderboard in the cross-country phase.
“I’m a little bit disappointed,” he said. “I was a bit cautious in canter, allowing him to slip behind the leg – I had hoped to be in the mid-20s. But the cross-country will be hugely influential, even on this very good going.
“The style of it suits Zagreb, but he isn’t full Thoroughbred and might not like the long hill, although he’s got plenty of stamina and a big heart.”
Alex, 38, who came to eventing relatively late – he used to play rugby and trained as a farrier – made his four-star debut at Burghley in 2016, since when he has enjoyed some stellar results with Sally Ellicott’s 17.2hh Zagreb, a 14-year-old by Perion, including winning the Event Rider Masters leg at Jardy in France this summer. “Sometimes when you’re naïve, it’s much easier because you don’t think about what can go wrong.
“This time I come with a little bit more knowledge and feel more secure at this level. Hopefully I won’t make any mistakes. That’s my plan this time, whereas previously it was more about grit and determination than anything else.”