Aussies Lead Olympic Eventing Team Contest, Germany 2nd, USA 3rd After 1st Day of Dresage

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Andrew Hoy and Rutherglen led Australia to the top of the team rankings after the first of two days of dressage in eventing. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

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.

Germany's Ingrid Klimke on Butts Abraxxas posted the highest individual score on the first of two days of dressage in eventing, with Germany in second place team competition behind Australia. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-nws.com

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.

Quotes
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!”

Tina Coudray and Ringwood Magister of the USA in third place after the first of two days of dressage in the eventing compeition. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Individual ranking after dressage day 1
Rk Bib Rider Horse Result +
1 33 Germany KLIMKE Ingrid BUTTS ABRAXXAS 39.30 +
2 18 Germany SCHRADE Dirk KING ARTUS 39.80 +
3 24 Great Britain KING Mary IMPERIAL CAVALIER 40.90 +
4 31 Australia HOY Andrew RUTHERGLEN 41.70 +
5 25 Sweden SVENNERSTAL Ludvig SHAMWARI 43.70 +
6 26 New Zealand PAGET Jonathan CLIFTON PROMISE 44.10 +
7 16 Australia GRIFFITHS Sam HAPPY TIMES 45.40 +
8 2 Australia BURTON Christopher HP LEILANI 46.10 +
9 15 United States of America O’CONNOR Karen MR MEDICOTT 48.20 +
10 7 Belgium CAULIER Virginie NEPAL DU SUDRE 48.30 +
11 20 Canada BENNETT-AWAD Hawley GIN & JUICE 48.70 +
12 19 Ireland CLARK Aoife MASTER CRUSOE 48.90 +
=13 1 United States of America MARTIN Boyd OTIS BARBOTIERE 50.70 +
=13 36 Belgium RIGOUTS Marc DUNKAS 50.70 +
15 32 France GUYON Lionel NEMETIS DE LALOU 50.90 +
=16 9 Great Britain WILSON Nicola OPPOSITION BUZZ 51.70 +
=16 37 Netherlands LIPS Tim ONCARLOS 51.70 +
18 30 United States of America COUDRAY Tiana RINGWOOD MAGISTER 52.00 +
19 21 Belgium BOUCKAERT Carl CYRANO Z 53.00 +
20 29 Ecuador ZABALA-GOETSCHEL Ronald MASTER ROSE 53.30 +
21 8 Japan TANAKA Toshiyuki MARQUIS DE PLESCOP 55.00 +
22 34 Ireland MURPHY Joseph ELECTRIC CRUISE 55.60 +
23 17 France KAHN Aurelien CADIZ 55.90 +
24 11 New Zealand RICHARDS Jonelle FLINTSTAR 56.70 +
25 6 Canada MUELLER Michelle AMISTAD 57.00 +
=26 4 Germany THOMSEN Peter BARNY 58.50 +
=26 22 Japan YUMIRA Takayuki LATINA 58.50 +
=26 23 Brazil CARVALHO JORGE Marcio JOSEPHINE 58.50 +
29 10 Sweden ALGOTSSON Linda LA FAIR 59.80 +
30 5 Ireland RYAN Michael BALLYLYNCH ADVENTURE 60.20 +
31 3 France MESPLES Denis OREGON DE LA VIGNE 61.50 +
32 35 Canada BARRY Peter KILRODAN ABBOTT 61.70 +
33 14 Jamaica ALBERT Samantha CARRAIG DUBH 67.20 +
34 12 Belarus TSELIAPUSHKINA Alena PASSAT 69.10 +
35 27 Austria AMBROS Harald O-FELTIZ 69.50 +
36 28 South Africa PETERNELL Alexander ASIH 70.40 +
37 13 Russian Federation KORSHUNOV Andrei FABIY

Eventing team rankings after day 1

Rank Team Penalty Points +
1
Australia Australia
133.20 +
2
Germany Germany
137.60 +
3
United States United States
150.90 +
4
Belgium Belgium
152.00 +
5
Ireland Ireland
164.70 +
6
Canada Canada
167.40 +
7
France France
168.30 +
Great Britain Great Britain
92.60 +
New Zealand New Zealand
100.80 +
Sweden Sweden
103.50 +
Japan Japan
113.50 +
Netherlands Netherlands
51.70 +
Brazil Brazil
58.50 +