Rio de Janeiro—Aug. 6
A strong performance by Ingrid Klimke and Hale-Bob OLD boosted Germany to the top of the team leaderboard after Day 2 of the eventing dressage at the Olympic Games—but the team’s not celebrating yet. France slipped down to second by a mere .2 points, and Australia will head into cross-country day on a mark of 126.4, just 4.2 points off the lead.
Klimke slotted into individual fourth just ahead of her teammate Michael Jung after a strong test. She warmed up the 2014 Pau CCI**** (France) winner over canter poles, then he lit up right outside the competition arena at the applause. But when he entered the ring he settled in.
“He was like ‘Here I am!’ and I was like ‘OK! Let’s go for it,’ ” she said. “I could really ride all the extensions, especially in the trot. He said ‘OK, you want it? Here it is!’ It was pure fun. I really don’t think he could do any better.”
Several more pairs broke into the top 10 today, but no one could top William Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning’s test from yesterday (37.0). France’s Mathieu Lemoine and Bart L, who were the only other combination to break into the 30s all day, moved into third on a mark of 39.2 penalty points. He said the gelding was a bit stressed, but it certainly didn’t show.
“For the moment it went very well, I’m quite happy with the result, but of course I can’t really say that I’m perfectly happy because I know that points go away, and I could have done better with my score,” he said. “I want to keep it positive, and I’m still very happy.”
The French team is made up of mostly team first-timers, and Lemoine said they’ve been enjoying training camp in France learning to work together.
“The goal of the training was to form this new French team and build the links between the competitors,” he said. “[We’ve been going for] gallops on the beach.”
Several combinations didn’t perform quite to expectations, including New Zealand’s Jonelle Price, favored for a shot at an individual medal, whose Faerie Dianimo broke to canter in the first medium trot and showed some tension after that.
New Zealand’s Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation and Italy’s Stefano Brecciaroli and Apollo VD Wendi Kurt were also expected to score a bit lower than what they got—46.5 and 41.9, respectively.
Karin Donckers, riding as an individual for Belgium on Fletcha Van’t Verahof, scored a 41.1 for seventh place to become the only individual rider in the top 10.
“As a rider for me in the ring it’s always a great feeling if you have the feeling that you can do what you want in the ring, that your horse is with you, that your horse is obedient, that your horse is concentrated, and it feels like you won with the horse,” she said. “That’s the feeling I had in the ring, so I must be happy When you come out of the ring at the Olympics and you have that feeling.”
The final U.S. combination Phillip Dutton on Mighty Nice, provided the strongest performance for Team USA, who currently sits tied for sixth with New Zealand on a mark of 137.5.
“It could always be better. The last flying change wasn’t great,” said Dutton. “There’s a lot of atmosphere there. I couldn’t be more proud of my horse. It could have been a lot worse. I was hoping to get close to 40, and it’s about as good as he can do.”
When asked if he felt pressure being the anchor rider, Dutton replied, “everybody’s just trying to do their best. It’s sport, and sometimes it doesn’t always go right. But this is a cool horse. He’s starting to understand the sport. I was reasonably confident that he’d hold it together. There’s atmosphere there, but he knew his job. He’s getting better and better, and I’m glad we’re helping out the team.”
Cross-country gets underway tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time (9 a.m. EST, it’ll be live-streaming at this link).
Full results can be found here.
Mollie Bailey and Lindsay Berreth are on the ground in Rio de Janeiro for the Chronicle and will be reporting with all the news, fantastic photos and behind-the-scenes details all posted on www.coth.com. Your go-to page for all things Olympic is http://www.chronofhorse.com/2016-Olympics
We’ll have live blogs of competition sessions, Twitter updates, photo galleries, stories about each day’s competition and so much more. Don’t miss a thing—we’ll have everything you need to know. Also make sure to follow along on the Chronicle’s social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.