Aussies Lead Olympic Eventing Team Contest, Germany 2nd, USA 3rd After 1st Day of Dresage
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LONDON, July 28–German riders filled the top two places in the individual rankings as Olympic Eventing got underway at Greenwich Park in London Saturday, but it was not enough to go ahead of Australia in the team competition with the United States third after the first of two days of dressage.
In the first of two days of dressage. Ingrid Klimke, team gold medalist at the Beijing Games equestrian events in Hong Kong four years ago, steered Butts Abraxxas to a score of 39.30 for a narrow lead over team mate Dirk Schrade partnering King Artus. The host nation’s Mary King and Imperial Cavalier slotted into third, just one penalty point further adrift.
A total of 37 horse-and-rider combinations lined out, but just seven of the 12 competing nations fielded three riders–the remaining four sending in just two of their five team members, while only one of the three-strong Dutch squad took their turn in accordance with the draw. So while the team leaderboard shows the Aussies on top, with a score of 133.20 for a four-point lead over Germany, and almost 17 points ahead of the third-place team from the USA, there is likely to be some considerable change when the action resumes Sunday.
The atmosphere in the ring was electric from the outset, but America’s Boyd Martin and Otis Barbotiere kept their cool when pathfinders to score 50.70. That was immediately relegated by the 46.20 posted by Chris Burton and HP Leilani which gave the Australians a very strong start. And when Sam Griffiths on Happy Times put 45.79 on the board and Andrew Hoy on Rutherglen was even more impressive with 41.70, then the men from Down Under were sitting pretty.
Andrew Hoy’s ride was confident and clean, and the four-time Olympic medallist is already assured of making his mark in London by matching the record set by America’s Mike Plumb for most Olympic appearances in Eventing by competing at his seventh Games. The Australian three team golds won at Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, and individual silver also in Sydney.
The Australian team has not had the easiest lead-in to Games time, with both Shane Rose and Megan Jones suffering the disappointment of horse injuries leading to a very late call-up for Sam Griffiths just two days ago.
The home fans were given plenty to cheer about when their super-heroine Mary King, whose career as an Olympian spans 20 years, produced yet another of her trademark polished performances with Imperial Cavalier. Nicola Wilson managed to contain the exuberant Opposition Buzz to kick-start the British effort with a mark of 51.70, but Mary King’s 40.90 has pinned them into a secure position, and with Zara Phillips on High Kingdom, Tina Cook on Miners Frolic and William Fox-Pitt on Lionheart still to come, the home side can look forward to further improvement.
Mary said her horse was “a bit tense and we made a few little mistakes, particularly at the last flying change, when I lost him. But I’m absolutely delighted to think this was probably the second best Olympic dressage test I have ever done.” The six-time Olympian was feeling very emotional as she left the arena to resounding applause. “I’m not going to cry but I’m close to it with the home crowd all around me and so behind me!” the popular 51-year-old admitted.
It was Ingrid Klimke who clinched pole position, however, when upstaging team-mate Dirk Schrade with a test that oozed precision, power and accuracy.
“I enjoyed the ride, he did a good job,” she said of the 15-year-old Butts Abraxxas. “He’s usually relaxed but he came into the ring a bit spooky. I was happy he listened to me. He was easy and supple to ride so I could go for the extensions, and he was relaxed in his walk so I was able to ride everything totally correct. When a horse is like that you have the chance to get everything totally correct.”
She’s already thinking ahead to Monday’s cross-country phase.
“It’s a very beautiful course. When we walked it I thought that it’s very clear to the horses what they have to do and that is good.”
There is a lot more dressage to be seen before that happens, however, and it is Japan’s Atsushi Negishi and Pretty Darling who are first into the arena Sunday morning, while former World and European champion Zara Phillips, grand-daughter of Queen Elizabeth II, will be a big crowd-puller when third to go of the remaining 36 who have yet to undertake their dressage challenge.
Facts and Figures
Eventing kicked off the equestrian sports action at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Greenwich Park.
37 horse-and-rider combinations competed in the first day of Eventing dressage.
7 of the 12 teams were drawn with three riders in Saturday’s start-list. 4 of the remaining five countries had just two riders in action while just one of the three-strong Dutch side did the test.
Australia currently leads the team rankings.
Individual leader is Germany’s Ingrid Klimke with Butts Abraxxas, a member of the gold medal winning side at the Beijing Games equestrian events in Hong Kong in 2008.
Australia’s Andrew Hoy matched the record set by the USA’s Mike Plumb for most Olympic appearances in Eventing by competing at his seventh Games in London.
Andrew Hoy, who is currently lying fourth with Rutherglen, is a four-time Olympic medallist.
New Zealand’s Jonathan Paget (6th) – “The fact that this is called the Olympics makes it special, but it’s the same size arena as in any other competition.”
Jonathan Paget, talking about his former career as a bricklayer – “Yes, this (competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games) is much better than laying bricks! I did five years of it before I did an apprenticeship in horse riding, Even then I still used to lay bricks in Sydney and Queensland in the closed-season.”
America’s Karen O’Connor, talking about her horse’s preparation – “I changed him (Mr Medicott) into a double bridle this morning and I am grateful I did because I could keep pushing. That’s what saved my test”.
Great Britain’s Nicola Wilson, on being at the Games – “It’s absolutely fantastic and the atmosphere when I rode into the main arena was amazing. The view from the arena is fabulous, but clearly I wasn’t looking at it that much. It really is a dream come true and something I’ve dreamed of since childhood.”
Australia’s Christopher Burton – “You’re always nervous the night before a competition. I didn’t march in the Opening Ceremony. Mum back in Australia was very disappointed, but I nodded off watching it on TV in the Village (next to the Stadium). Then at midnight there was this big bang and I thought we were being bombed – a but it was only the fireworks!”
|1||33||KLIMKE Ingrid||BUTTS ABRAXXAS||39.30||+|
|2||18||SCHRADE Dirk||KING ARTUS||39.80||+|
|3||24||KING Mary||IMPERIAL CAVALIER||40.90||+|
|6||26||PAGET Jonathan||CLIFTON PROMISE||44.10||+|
|7||16||GRIFFITHS Sam||HAPPY TIMES||45.40||+|
|8||2||BURTON Christopher||HP LEILANI||46.10||+|
|9||15||O’CONNOR Karen||MR MEDICOTT||48.20||+|
|10||7||CAULIER Virginie||NEPAL DU SUDRE||48.30||+|
|11||20||BENNETT-AWAD Hawley||GIN & JUICE||48.70||+|
|12||19||CLARK Aoife||MASTER CRUSOE||48.90||+|
|=13||1||MARTIN Boyd||OTIS BARBOTIERE||50.70||+|
|15||32||GUYON Lionel||NEMETIS DE LALOU||50.90||+|
|=16||9||WILSON Nicola||OPPOSITION BUZZ||51.70||+|
|18||30||COUDRAY Tiana||RINGWOOD MAGISTER||52.00||+|
|19||21||BOUCKAERT Carl||CYRANO Z||53.00||+|
|20||29||ZABALA-GOETSCHEL Ronald||MASTER ROSE||53.30||+|
|21||8||TANAKA Toshiyuki||MARQUIS DE PLESCOP||55.00||+|
|22||34||MURPHY Joseph||ELECTRIC CRUISE||55.60||+|
|=26||23||CARVALHO JORGE Marcio||JOSEPHINE||58.50||+|
|29||10||ALGOTSSON Linda||LA FAIR||59.80||+|
|30||5||RYAN Michael||BALLYLYNCH ADVENTURE||60.20||+|
|31||3||MESPLES Denis||OREGON DE LA VIGNE||61.50||+|
|32||35||BARRY Peter||KILRODAN ABBOTT||61.70||+|
|33||14||ALBERT Samantha||CARRAIG DUBH||67.20||+|
Eventing team rankings after day 1