TWO USA RIDERS IN WORLD CUP LATE INTO COMPETITION ARENA

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Leif Tornblad of Denmark, president of the ground jury, conferring with Stephen Clarke of Great Britain on the late arriving USA ridersat the World Cup Final. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

‘S-HERTOGENBOSCH, Netherlands, April 20–Both United States riders–Jan Ebeling and Shawna Harding–were late entering the competition arena at the World Cup Final Grand Prix Friday, costing them valuable points.

The judges, spectators and media were perplexed at the tardiness of the American combinations, both of whom have competed at previous World Cup Finals.

Timer above the center of the competition arena counting down seconds for entry.

The brightly lit stadium has a giant scoreboard above the arena and the clock counts down 45 seconds from the time the president of the ground jury, Leif Tornblad of Denmark, rang the bell.

The U.S. also has two officials assigned to the dressage squad, team coach Anne Gribbons and Chef d’Equipe Eva Salomon.

Late entry costs the combination 14 points, two each from the seven judges as this is a championship and has two judges more than the usual five-person panel.

The Americans were the only riders late into the arena, prompting many jokes around the arena about jet lag, being on U.S. time and references to Rolex being the official sponsor of the jumping World Cup Final but not dressage–though large Rolex clocks decorate the stadium.

Shawna of Aiken, South Carolina, and Come On III, who competed at the 2011 Final in Leipzig, scored 68.055 per cent for 13th place.

She was the 16th rider in the competition and the first of the two Americans. The pair were several second late into the arena.

Jan of Moorpark, California, and Rafalca, the horse he rode at the World Cup Finals in Las Vegas in 2009 and Leipzig, Germany, in 2011, scored 65.258 per cent, to finish 17th in the field of 18.

The combination was the last and when the countdown clock reached zero and the pair had not yet entered the arena, a buzz began among the spectators.

All 18 combinations move on to the Freestyle that determines the World Cup, to be held Saturday.