Caen, France—Sept. 3
There are many fences left to clear before the U.S. riders can rest, but midway through the second day of jumping at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, they’re in a striking position—fifth—on a score of 8.72. The team’s less than one rail behind the leaders, with Germany first (4.82) and the Netherlands second (4.83). But the scores are slightly misleading at this point as some teams, including the top two, haven’t jumped three riders yet today.
The low U.S. score is largely thanks to the clear round put in by McLain Ward on Rothchild as the first pair in the ring this morning. They were one of 11 clears out of the 76 starters so far, and the track’s caused its fair share of problems.
“It’s a huge step up from yesterday,” said Ward. “I think it’s a really good course today. I don’t think it’s unfair. With the people who are really at this level, you aren’t going to see major problems; you’re going to see rails.”
Rothchild, with his spunky temperament and game face over fences, is always a crowd-pleaser, and the video stream after his round repeatedly played the moment where he bucked after finishing his trip.
“He’s feisty walking from the barn to the ring at home,” said Ward. “We’re smart about it. I don’t get him in [the ring] too early. We pay attention to the factors—if the crowd is going to erupt with a good round—and try to time everything well. It certainly doesn’t hurt him going a little bit early in the morning here. You might say the buzz is a little less. But he’s handled it at the [American] Invitational, World Cup Finals, Aachen. Even though he’s got his own character, he knows the job.”
Ward’s teammates helped put the squad in a good position later in the morning as well. Kent Farrington and Voyeur picked up just one rail, over an oxer at 12B.
“That wasn’t obviously the result I was looking for. It wasn’t a total disaster either,” said Farrington. “Hopefully my other teammates can jump some clear rounds, and if that’s the worst score we have of the day, then that’s pretty good.”
Lucy Davis, riding in her first major championship, was the last U.S. rider of the morning session on Barron, and she picked up 4 faults when Baron just ticked a panel off the wall at fence 7.
“Today he was just a little tense at the wall after I scared him a bit there yesterday,” said Davis. “I thought the distance was OK. It was just kind of a result of our debacle yesterday, but everything else he jumped amazing.”
Some of the top pairs from yesterday faulted today, including speed class winner Bertram Allen on Molly Malone V, who picked up 4 in his round. But some, like Brazil’s Doda de Miranda on AD Rahmannshof’s Bogeno, found redemption by jumping clear. De Miranda fell yesterday when his mount refused.
Beezie Madden jumps this afternoon for the United States. The top 10 teams will complete another round tomorrow to decide medals.
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