Saudi Arabia On Top of Olympic Team Jumping, Germany, France, Belgium Ousted
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LONDON, Aug. 5–Anchor riders proved key to the result of Sunday’s first round of the team jumping competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Greenwich Park, and Saudi Arabia took the lead going into Monday’s medal-decider carrying just a single time penalty. Great Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland were less than a fence behind carrying four faults apiece.
With five faults on the board, Canada finished sixth and, with only the top eight teams going through to the second round, Brazil and USA clinched the last two available places when closing their day with eight faults.
But there were heads shaking in disbelief when Germany missed the cut along with France and Belgium, as not one of the riders from any of these top-level nations managed to keep a clean sheet Sunday. The Germans are giants in this game, and even though they encountered selection problems in the lead-up to London when star-riders Carsten-Otto Nagel, Ludger Beerbaum and Marco Kutscher had issues with their horses, it had been expected that they would feature strongly.
The brilliant course building by Britain’s Bob Ellis has had a significant impact, however. Once again the loops and roll-backs tested control and accuracy, and the Olympic arena at Greenwich Park has proved that it is no place for the meek.
Sunday’s 13-fence course was tough from the outset.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdullah, who jumped a superb clear round again to help secure pole position for his country going into the second round, put it in a nutshell when he said of the jumps depicting London landmarks, “what with the weather, the London bus and the Tower Bridge, I felt like I was sightseeing today!”
He led the way for his side with a foot-perfect effort from the 12-year-old Davos, and when team-mate Ramzy Al Duhami and Bayard van de Villa There did likewise the only score to be added to the Saudi account was the single time penalty collected by Kamal Bahamdan and Noblesse Des Tess, as Abdullah Sharbatly’s mistake with Sultan at the triple combination was the discard score.
Those chasing them had to work hard to qualify for Monday.
The British were strengthened by two clears from Nick Skelton on Big Star and Ben Maher on Tripple X, and it looked like they would add a third until Scott Brash’s Hello Sanctos clipped the front pole of the final oxer. When Peter Charles and Vindicat lowered both the second element of the troublesome triple combination and the penultimate vertical the hosts had to take Scott’s result on board. The Scotsman said later, “my horse jumped amazing. It didn’t feel as though we had done anything wrong on the approach and, if I had to do it again, I would probably ride it the same way. I am chuffed to bits with him as there was a big difference in his attitude today.”
The Dutch also produced two clears, from Maikel van der Vleuten (Verdi) and Marc Houtzager (Tamino). It was important for them to drop the double-error from pathfinders Jur Vrieling and Bubalu however, so there was a lot hanging in the balance as, fourth-last to go, Gerco Schroder and London came into the ring. A clear would put the Dutch out in front, but the first part of the double at five put four faults on the board to see the Dutch join the British in runner-up spot.
Jens Fredricson and Lunatic led the way for Sweden and left the middle element of the combination and the last fence on the floor. And when his sister-in-law Lisen Fredricsson, bravely sporting some heavy bruising following her fall Saturday, posted four faults with Matrix, the Swedes didn’t look particularly competitive. But both Henrik von Eckermann on Allerdings and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson on Cassal returned without incident to join the other second-placed teams. The Swiss started out with a mistake from Steve Guerdat and Nino des Buissonnets just one fence from home, but Paul Estermann and Castlefield Eclipse kept them in the hunt with a lovely clear before Werner Muff and Kiamon also hit the penultimate vertical. Pius Schwizer was under plenty of pressure when last in for his side, but he showed why he has become such a great anchorman when steering Carlina across the line with a clean sheet that guaranteed another team in the joint-runner-up position.
The Canadian team was reduced to three when Tiffany Foster’s gelding, Victor, was disqualified for hypersensitivity due to a cut on his left front leg. At a press conference following the competition, FEI President Princess Haya said, “It is important to make clear that there is no accusation of malpractice on Tiffany’s part, but the horse was too sensitive. We are here to stand beside her and we look forward to many great performances from her in the future. This is a wellbeing of the horse issue and we understand that this is a crushing experience for Tiffany in her first Olympic Games.” The Canadian team filed a protest earlier in the day, but the decision taken by the Ground Jury on hypersensitivity is not open to appeal.
A tearful Tiffany Foster said at a news conference: “I would never do anything to jeopardize the welfare of my horse. What happened is totally devastating to me. I understand why the rules are in place and I understand why they look for hypersensitivity. I just feel so bad for my team.”
Team Canada still lies well within sight of an Olympic medal, however, with just five faults on the board following a pole down for Jill Henselwood and George, a single time fault from Eric Lamaze and Derly Chin de Muze, and a clear from Ian Millar and Star Power who join 12 others with a completely clean sheet at the top of the individual table. The 65-year-old record-setting veteran said his horse was “tense yesterday. I love the fans and the crowd and I don’t wish to criticize, but they elevated the level of anxiety of my horse. Today was perfect. My horse was sharp, up in the air and listening to me. I was very pleased with the step up from yesterday.”
Brazil did well to ensure qualification as they fielded only a three-man side due to the withdrawal of Carlos Ribas and Wilexo who were eliminated Saturday. A clear from Alvaro de Miranda on Rahmannshof’s Bogeno, and four faults from both Jose Fernandez Filho on Maestro St Lois and Rodrigo Pessoa on Rebozo did the trick to see them share an eight-fault total with America’s McLain Ward and Antares, Beezie Madden and Via Volo, Reed Kessler and Cylana and Rich Fellers and Flexible.
The latter partnership produced the only U.S. clear, and the big British crowd erupted with almost as much of a roar as they gave their own riders, as this is a much-loved and admired horse-and-rider partnership. Fellers said, “I am thrilled with my horse but I wish we were in a better position. We are all fighters and we can come back tomorrow,” adding that his horse was “being typically Flexible, he was a little more on his game today.”
The Saudi team are not getting too carried away with their success. Team trainer, Stanny van Paesschen said, “we are naturally delighted with the way the team jumped, and it is great to be in the lead, but we still have another day to go, and it is important that we stick to the same routine that we have throughout the Games.”
They will certainly have to stay on their toes if they are to clinch the gold because, as The Netherlands’ Gerco Schroder said, “the team situation is very very close. It is all to play for.”
Complete standings after the first round:
|=1||341||SKELTON Nick||BIG STAR||0 Q||+|
|=1||354||AL SAUD HRH Prince Abdullah||DAVOS||0 Q||+|
|=1||340||MAHER Ben||TRIPPLE X||0 Q||+|
|=1||305||TOPS-ALEXANDER Edwina||ITOT DU CHATEAU||0 Q||+|
|=1||360||MICHAN Alberto||ROSALIA LA SILLA||0 Q||+|
|=1||315||AFFONSO de MIRANDA NETO Alvaro||RAHMANNSHOF’S BOGENO||0 Q||+|
|=1||365||van der VLEUTEN Maikel||VERDI||0 Q||+|
|=1||370||ESTERMANN Paul||CASTLEFIELD ECLIPSE||0 Q||+|
|=1||363||HOUTZAGER Marc||TAMINO||0 Q||+|
|=1||378||von ECKERMANN Henrik||ALLERDINGS||0 Q||+|
|=1||386||FELLERS Rich||FLEXIBLE||0 Q||+|
|=1||376||BENGTSSON Rolf-Goran||CASALL||0 Q||+|
|=13||330||BLUMAN Daniel||SANCHA||1 Q||+|
|=13||322||LAMAZE Eric||DERLY CHIN DE MUZE||1 Q||+|
|=15||357||BAHAMDAN Kamal||NOBLESSE DES TESS||2 Q||+|
|=15||353||AL DUHAMI Ramzy||BAYARD VAN DE VILLA THERE||2 Q||+|
|=17||351||SUGITANI Taizo||AVENZIO||4 Q||+|
|=17||323||MILLAR Ian||STAR POWER||4 Q||+|
|=17||389||WARD Mclain||ANTARES||4 Q||+|
|=17||371||GUERDAT Steve||NINO DES BUISSONNETS||4 Q||+|
|=17||345||MEYER Janne Friederike||LAMBRASCO||4 Q||+|
|=17||318||REYNOSO FERNANDEZ FILHO Jose Robert||MAESTRO ST LOIS||4 Q||+|
|=17||336||STAUT Kevin||SILVANA||4 Q||+|
|=17||372||MUFF Werner||KIAMON||4 Q||+|
|=17||364||SCHRODER Gerco||LONDON||4 Q||+|
|=17||310||LANSINK Jos||VALENTINA VAN ‘T HEIKE||4 Q||+|
|=27||384||RIVETTI Cassio||TEMPLE ROAD||5 Q||+|
|=27||344||EHNING Marcus||PLOT BLUE||5 Q||+|
|=27||317||PESSOA Rodrigo||REBOZO||5 Q||+|
|30||333||DELESTRE Simon||NAPOLI DU RY||6 Q||+|
|=31||368||DINIZ Luciana||LENNOX||8 Q||+|
|=31||301||LAROCCA Jose Maria||ROYAL POWER||8 Q||+|
|=31||348||O’CONNOR Cian||BLUE LOYD 12||8 Q||+|
|=31||361||PIZARRO Nicolas||CROSSING JORDAN||8 Q||+|
|=31||304||PATERSON-ROBINSON James||LANOSSO||8 Q||+|
|=31||303||HARGREAVES Julia||VEDOR||8 Q||+|
|=31||381||NAGEL Bjorn||NIACK DE L’ABBAYE||8 Q||+|
|=31||338||BRASH Scott||HELLO SANCTOS||8 Q||+|
|=31||366||VRIELING Jur||BUBALU||8 Q||+|
|=31||377||FREDRICSON Jens||LUNATIC||8 Q||+|
|=31||311||le JEUNE Philippe||VIGO D’ARSOUILLES||8 Q||+|
|=31||312||WATHELET Gregory||CADJANINE Z||8 Q||+|
|=31||347||MICHAELS-BEERBAUM Meredith||BELLA DONNA||8 Q||+|
|=31||309||DEMEERSMAN Dirk||BUFERO VAN HET PANISHOF||8 Q||+|
|=31||334||GUILLON Olivier||LORD DE THEIZE||8 Q||+|
|=31||373||SCHWIZER Pius||CARLINA IV||8 Q||+|
|=47||314||TERCEIRA Jillian||BERNADIEN VAN WESTUUR||9||+|
|=47||335||LEPREVOST Penelope||MYLORD CARTHAGO||9||+|
|=51||332||EL ZOGHBY Karim||WERVEL WIND||10||+|
|=51||356||SHARBATLY Abdullah Waleed||SULTAN||10||+|
|=53||331||DIAZ Rodrigo||ROYAL VINCKENBURG||11||+|
|=53||326||COUVE CORREA Tomas||UNDERWRAPS||11||+|
|=56||349||TWOMEY Billy||TINKA’S SERENADE||12||+|
|=56||329||MILTHALER Carlos||HYO ALTANERO||12||+|
|59||328||PAROT Samuel||AL CALYPSO||17||+|
|61||325||CARRASCO Rodrigo||OR DE LA CHARBONIERE||22||+|
|62||380||HAMCHO Ahmad Saber||WONDERBOY||30||+|