Monday 01 August - 18h19 | Lulu Kyriacou
Olympic Eventing-Who Will Win?
The Three Day Event is the first of the three equestrian disciplines to be run at the Olympic Games and will begin at the weekend but who is going to win in Rio. Can the German's defend both the team and individual gold medals they won in London 2012 or will another name be on the honour roll?
When looking for the winners, Germany are the obvious place to start. Since their almost complete team collapse at WEG 2010, they have been almost unassailable in subsequent championships, adding World and two European titles to the team haul, while individually their Rio team contains the defending Olympic champion, Michael Jung and the current World Champions, Sandra Auffarth. Jung will be riding his 2012 winner La Biosthetique Sam after his original choice Fischer Takinou picked up a small injury but it is not exactly shabby to turn up on the current Badminton and Burghley champion! there does not really appear to be a weak link in the German side (completed by Ingrid Klimke and Andreas Ostholt) but horses are never predictable so the result is not a foregone conclusion by any stretch of the imagination.
Realistically if the German's fail to do the double, there are only five out of the 12 remaining teams who can win unless there is some unforeseen disaster at the event. Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, France and the USA. Of these the American team looks decidedly weak. Phillip Dutton is riding his second string horse, Mighty Nice, and all the others have been well beaten by foreign competitors in other internationals this year. Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen are probaly the most likely to win an individual medal, with a strong level of dressage performance in addition to being UK based so he really knows what the opposition is like.
British, Australians and New Zealanders......
Talking of which, the British team can never be discounted in eventing. Silver medallists in London, the Rio team is a mix of youth and experience. Pippa Funnell and William Fox Pitt need little introduction but Kitty King has ridden and produced two other championship horses before her Rio ride Ceylor LAN and won medals at all level of competition. Gemma Tattersall is currently the world's highest ranked lady rider, although she is another on a second choice horse. Perhaps the strength of the British team can best be gauged by the fact that they have been able to leave former European Champion Tina Cook as a reserve.
Both the Australian and New Zealand teams are very strong and feature riders who could potentially challenge for the individual title such as Christopher Burton, Sir Mark Todd and Jonelle Price. But the Australians have included riders based in Australia, where the level of competition is harder to assess although Shane Rose and Start Tinney are not strangers to riding in other countries. The French will be hoping to capitalise on their European bronze and have been very strong in 2016 with all their riders clear at Badminton cross country or placed at big CIC3* contests like Chatsworth. They could easily spring a surprise. Of the remaining teams, the Irish have got a new look for Rio and will be very capable across country but may just be off the pace somewhat in the show jumping phase particularly.
Individually, it is anyone's game. The Olympic Games require an extra show jumping round to establish the individual medals so Michael Jung and William Fox Pitt must be fancied here, although Fox Pitt has been scoring quite a few time penalties across country since returning from injury. But you could make a case for a great many riders individually including some whose team's have little chance of a podium finish, Karin Donckers for example. Thibault Valette of France is likely to be amongst the top individuals as is Astier Nicholas. Potential surprise package? Keep an eye on Italy's Stefano Brechiaroli and the very marvellous Apollo VD Wendi Kurt Hoeve.
Full entry list is here http://inside.fei.org/system/files/Eventing%20List%20of%20Definite%20Entries%20-%20RIO%20to%20be%20published%20V6.pdf