Rookie Lyndal Oatley Leads Australian Team in Grand Prix Phase of Olympic Team Competition

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Riding in her first Olympics, Lyndal Oatley on Sandro Boy in the Grand Prix at Greenwich Park. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

LONDON, Aug. 2–Lyndal Oatley, a first-time Olympian, and her still developing Grand Prix horse, Sandro Boy, led the Australian team Thursday, the first day of the two-stage Nations Cup competition at London’s historic Greenwich Park.

Lyndal, based in Germany with her husband, Patrik Kittel who is competing in these Olympics for Sweden, rode her family’s 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding (Sandro Hit x Utopia x Argentinus) to a score of 69.377 per cent and 15th place individually after the first day. She began international Grand rix competition with Sandro Boy in April this year.

Two of the sevenjudges awarded Lyndal more than 70 per cent, with Stephen Clarke of Great Britain giving the highest at 71.064 per cent.

Kristy Oatley, her cousin also based in Germany, and Clive scored 68.222 per cent.

Mary Hanna and Sancette, the third Australian combination, will compete Friay.

The seven top teams after the Grand Prix will move on to the Grand Prix Special next Tuesday that will determine the medals. Of the 10 teams that started Thursay, Canada was eliminated when one its combination could not complete the test.

Competition Thursday was marked by occasional heavy rain showers, a familiar occurrence for Lyndal.

“They call my horse Storm Bybbecause in every Olympic qualifying event there has been torrential rain when we have been in the ring,” she said after her ride. “I am quite glas it was not me this time as I stayed dry.”

Lyndal, who finished atop the Austrlian selection standings and thus automatically qualified for the team, said she was inspired by her cousin, Kristy, to take up dressage that has been an Olympic sport for 100 years.

“Watching my cousin at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, it inspired me. I was twice Australian champion with show horses, but I saw Kristy and decided ‘this is for m, let’s go,’ and I changed my life to dressage,” she said.

Kristy Oatley and Clive in the opening Olympic dressage competition. © 2012 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

This was the fourth Olympics for Kristy, who said that she was “really happy” with the ride.

“He gave his all,” she said. “I was a bit worried because he coughed twice before the test and cughed once during the test and I thought, ‘please do not do that’.”