Tight at Top for Olympic Team & individual Eventing medals
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LONDON, July 30–Olympic eventing cross-country produced spectacular sport in Greenwich Park Monday where at the end of an afternoon filled with thrills, spills, dramas and excitement, team Germany maintained the advantage. But it’s only a slight one, as the host British side lies just over five penalty points behind in silver medal position going into Tuesday’s final jumping phase, while Sweden is not much more than a single point further in arrears.
And first-day dressage joint-leaders–Ingrid Klimke of Germany and Sara Algotsson Ostholt of Sweden–returned to the top of the individual leaderboard when Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa was one of 10 fallers on the track over which 15 of the 70 starters were eliminated. Should Ingrid and Sara hold firm, the German may live to regret her speedy and seamless tour of the track with Butts Abraxxas, as it is her Swedish rival who crossed the finlsh-line closest to the optimum time with her mare, Wega, meaning the Swede would finish ahead.
The pendulum swung wildly throughout the day, with Britain and Germany playing cat-and-mouse for pole position, while the Swedes rose to third when the Australians lost their grip on overnight runner-up spot. The Aussies were severely hampered by elimination for both Sam Griffiths on Happy Times who fell on the flat between fences, and anchorman Clayton Fredericks who hit the turf when Bendigo lost his landing gear after the big drop at fence 20. When Lucinda Fredericks and Flying Finish had a run-out at the narrow upbank exit from the second water complex, the Australians completed in sixth place and start the jumping 17 points behind team USA in fifth.
Joint-fourth with the Swedes after dressage, the New Zealand side held their ground when adding just over five penalty points to their tally.
Andrew Nicholson and Nereo produced one of nine rounds within the optimum time, which rocketed him from 21st to ninth placing going into the final day. And it is really tight at the top of the individual leaderboard–the joint-leaders just 0.2 ahead of the masterful Kiwi Mark Todd who nursed the inexperienced Campino home with just 0.40 time penalties to maintain the hold on bronze medal position he established at the end of Sunday’s dressage phase.
Michael Jung’s clean sheet with Sam was pivotal to German dominance, and this partnership lies individually fourth ahead of Great Britain’s Tina Cook and Miners Frolic and Mary King and Imperial Cavalier, who hold fifth and sixth places respectively, while Sweden’s Ludvig Svennerstal really put himself on the map when adding just 0.4 for time to slot into seventh with Shamwari, just ahead of Germany’s Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo in eighth.
If it was a pressure-filled day for all the riders, it was almost unbearably so for the British who had to contend with the wild enthusiasm of the vast majority of the 50,000 spectators who poured into the Olympic equestrian venue from early morning. They couldn’t contain themselves as their superstars appeared, and there was an unbelievable wall of sound from thousands of supporters as each of them traveled round the course.
Pathfinder Nicola Wilson, got them off to the perfect start with a fault-free run from Opposition Buzz that broke the beam in 9.52 minutes, demonstrating that the clear produced by Australia’s first-line rider Chris Burton on HP Leilani, second to take on the 29-fence track, was very possible indeed.
But Mary King’s Imperial Cavalier is a strong horse at the best of times, and the noise from the behind the ropes just spurred him on over the early part of the track. He was running so freely that her compulsory stop after the second water complex, due to fence damage incurred when Japan’s Takayuki Yumira and Latina tipped up at the Cricket Ball Basket (fence 23), may well have been opportune.
“I was very nervous of the crowd,” she said after resuming her ride to complete with just 1.2 time penalties, “but it was wonderful to have such support behind us.”
If the crowds had been noisy during Mary King’s round, it paled into insignificance compared to the reception given to Zara Phillips and High Kingdom. Others might have buckled under the strain, but the former World and European champion, whose supporters club included her mother, Princess Anne, and cousins Princes William and Harry along with the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, just cracked on to defy her occasional critics and produce the ride of her life–a clear round at the Olympic Games which would count toward the team score at the end of the day despite the loss of a front shoe.
But it was the double-clears from Ingrid Klimke and Michael Jung that sealed the lead for the Germans. Peter Thomsen on Barny added 5.2 time penalties to his scoreline, Dirk Schrade on King Artus picked up 10.8 of the same, but Sandra Auffarth collected just 4.8 with Opgun Louvo to leave the Germans on a tally of 124.70.
Niklas Lindback helped clinched that third spot for Sweden but was lucky to get away with bad stride at the last where Mr Pooh managed to stay on his feet after hitting it hard. The slippery ground played a significant role, penalizing two riders who fell on the flat and slowing others down.
The award for the most sensational dismount of the day might well have gone to Holland’s Elaine Pen who, going sixth from last, was unseated at the middle element of second water and hung on for her life with the crowd roaring her encouragement before gravity won out. Bitterly disappointed to drop into the shallow water, she turned to her mare Vira to give her an apologetic pat and a hug.
As the dust settled, Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt said she was “very happy” to be in joint-first place individually and that “we have a good team and if we have a good day tomorrow then we have a real chance.” But as Mark Todd pointed out. “it’s very, very close and, as we’ve known since long before these Games, there are so many good horses and riders, it will be very close tomorrow”.
Course designer, Sue Benson, said “it was a marvellous day, with lovely pictures of our sport being beamed all around the world, and the horses finished extremely well due to some wonderful riding.”
The fate of the eventing medals at the London 2012 Olympic Games are still very much hanging in the balance. It’s still all to play for Tuesday.
Facts and Figures
Germany maintained the lead established in dressage when adding just 15.6 penalties to their first-phase total.
9 horse-and-rider combinations completed the track inside the optimum time of 10 mins 03 seconds.
15 eliminations, including dressage leader, Yoshiaki Oiwa from Japan, who was unseated on landing over the drop at fence 20 (Royal Greenwich Borough).
10 rider falls; 4 horse falls; 1 elimination for 3 refusals.
Germany’s Ingrid Klimke (Butts Abraxxas) and Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt (Wega) share the individual lead going into the final day.
The Royal Park at Greenwich lived up to its name, attracting a hugely enthusiastic crowd that included British royal family members, Princess Anne, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice, along with former FEI President Dona Pilar de Borbon and current FEI President, Princess Haya.
Course designer Sue Benson: “cross-country day is always difficult. Whatever you think, some of the things you expect don’t happen and unexpected things do.”
Lucinda Fredericks of Austrlia–“I’m very disappointed about that (run-out at the second water) because the rest of the ride was fabulous. I just didn’t get those ears lined up between those two flags! But my horse is still young and I guarantee we will win a medal for our country one day.”
Andrew Hoy, an Aussie team mate–“This was the toughest course, terrain-wise, I have every ridden at an Olympic Games.”
Zara Phillips – “The crowd were unbelievable, and it was fun! The ground was very slippery and that made it hard work.”
Sandra Auffarth of Germany–“During the last minute (on the course) I felt him (Opgun Louvo) getting tired and I reduced the speed. I had to avoid any mishaps for the team. That was the biggest difficulty of this course, you could only guess how tiring it would be on the horses.”
Sam Griffiths of Australia–“My horse slipped on the flat and lost his back end. Then the next thing I knew I was on the floor. I’m absolutely gutted, but that is sport. The going was quite hard so I did not want to put big studs in. That’s maybe why he slipped.”
Ingrid Klimke–“I knew the course was really challenging and I am so thrilled with my very wonderful horse. He made it easy for me. Four years ago in Hong Kong he did the same, and I am very privileged to have him.”
Individual Ranking after Cross Country
|=1||33||KLIMKE Ingrid||BUTTS ABRAXXAS||39.30||+|
|=1||41||ALGOTSSON OSTHOLT Sara||WEGA||39.30||+|
|5||56||COOK Kristina||MINERS FROLIC||42.00||+|
|6||24||KING Mary||IMPERIAL CAVALIER||42.10||+|
|8||49||AUFFARTH Sandra||OPGUN LOUVO||44.80||+|
|=10||2||BURTON Christopher||HP LEILANI||46.10||+|
|=10||40||PHILLIPS Zara||HIGH KINGDOM||46.10||+|
|12||62||DUTTON Phillip||MYSTERY WHISPER||47.10||+|
|13||57||LINDBACK Niklas||MISTER POOH||48.00||+|
|14||26||PAGET Jonathan||CLIFTON PROMISE||48.90||+|
|16||61||BRECCIAROLI Stefano||APOLLO WD WENDI KURT HOEV||50.10||+|
|17||18||SCHRADE Dirk||KING ARTUS||50.60||+|
|=18||48||SCHAULY Donatien||OCARINA DU CHANOIS||51.60||+|
|=18||68||DONCKERS Karin||GAZELLE DE LA BRASSERIE||51.60||+|
|20||9||WILSON Nicola||OPPOSITION BUZZ||51.70||+|
|21||19||CLARK Aoife||MASTER CRUSOE||52.50||+|
|23||59||PANIZZON Vittoria||BOROUGH PENNYZ||53.50||+|
|=24||15||O’CONNOR Karen||MR MEDICOTT||53.80||+|
|26||1||MARTIN Boyd||OTIS BARBOTIERE||54.30||+|
|27||64||TOUZAINT Nicolas||HILDAGO DE L’ILE||55.20||+|
|29||34||MURPHY Joseph||ELECTRIC CRUISE||60.40||+|
|32||53||HEFFERNAN Andrew||MILLTHYME COROLLA||63.00||+|
|34||52||van SPRINGEL Joris||LULLY DES AULNES||64.70||+|
|36||7||CAULIER Virginie||NEPAL DU SUDRE||69.50||+|
|37||45||LIGON Nina Lamsam||BUTTS LEON||69.90||+|
|38||32||GUYON Lionel||NEMETIS DE LALOU||70.90||+|
|40||38||NEGISHI Atsushi||PRETTY DARLING||76.00||+|
|42||30||COUDRAY Tiana||RINGWOOD MAGISTER||77.60||+|
|43||47||FREDERICKS Lucinda||FLYING FINISH||78.00||+|
|44||10||ALGOTSSON Linda||LA FAIR||79.80||+|
|45||71||FONSECA Ruy||TOM BOMBADILL TOO||80.30||+|
|47||55||TOSI Marcelo||ELEDA ALL BLACK||87.60||+|
|48||29||ZABALA-GOETSCHEL Ronald||MASTER ROSE||89.30||+|
|50||23||CARVALHO JORGE Marcio||JOSEPHINE||101.30||+|
|=51||3||MESPLES Denis||OREGON DE LA VIGNE||107.50||+|
|53||44||NASTENKO Mikhail||COOLROY PITER||111.80||+|
|55||8||TANAKA Toshiyuki||MARQUIS DE PLESCOP||115.00||+|
|59||14||ALBERT Samantha||CARRAIG DUBH||121.20||+|
|–||5||RYAN Michael||BALLYLYNCH ADVENTURE||EL||+|
|–||16||GRIFFITHS Sam||HAPPY TIMES||EL||+|
|–||20||BENNETT-AWAD Hawley||GIN & JUICE||EL||+|
|–||21||BOUCKAERT Carl||CYRANO Z||EL||+|
|–||35||BARRY Peter||KILRODAN ABBOTT||EL||+|
|–||50||SPEIRS Camilla||PORTERSIZE JUST A JIFF||EL||+|
|–||67||HOWARD Rebecca||RIDDLE MASTER||EL||+|
|–||70||OIWA Yoshiaki||NOONDAY DE CONDE||EL||+|