Monday 08 August - 19h57 | Lulu Kyriacou
Australia Superlative As Germans Lose Golden Grip
Pierre Michelet's first attempt at an Olympic cross country event proved to have significant impact on the leader board on the 2016 Olympic Eventing leader board. But the Australian's finished the day leading both team and individual standings but barley a fence ahead of great rivals New Zealand.
The team scores were very close after the dressage where, it has to be said, the ground jury appeared to be reluctant to use the full range of marks available which had the effect of compressing the scores so there were less than thirty penalties from top to bottom in the team event and it was a similar story in the indivdual contest. The Ground Jury had made a few changes to the dressing on several fences making them a little more horse friendly but there were lots of accuracy questions and the long routes were significantly long. And if that wasn't enough there were four water complexes including one at Fence 4.
Astier Nicholas, second out on course for France made it all look easy, clear, direct and inside the time but first out Jessica Pheonix had gone long at several fences and incurred a stop and the tird out on course, Padraig Mc Carthy, had already had a stop for Ireland when Simon Porloe fell at the second part of the oxer to corner combination at Fence 17. Sam Griffith was clear but slower on Paulank Brockagh for Australia and the team situation got interesting when Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo had a technical run out at the first water. Tim Price was clear for New Zealand when falling on the flat between fence at 23 the Malmsbury Fence. A little house to a gate on an oblique angle, Price was going the long way when Ringwood Sky Boy slipped and fell. Boyd Martin made the most of his ex racehorse Blackfoot Mystery's speed and stamina for just 3.2 time penalties to put the USA back into the medal picture. First British rider on course was Gemma Tattersall and Quicklook had a run out at Fence 4 and another at 12 before finishing with plenty of time penalties having to then go long at several fences. She said afterwards that the mare had gone 'green' on here which might have been expected given her lack of big competition experience.
Second and third riders
The second round of riders was no less dramatic. Katherine Robinson was eliminated for Canada on Let It Bee. Karim Laghouag and Entebbe could not match the earlier French clear and had a stop at the step to brush at Fence 12. The Irish were in real trouble when Clair Abbot and Europrince had a stop at six and then another at nine. But everyone was waiting for the two leaders. Chris Burtn set out meaning business on Santano and his round was an absolute masterclass. You would have to go far to see a better round, clear and inside the time and the second clear for Australia on the board which bumped them right up to the top of the team score. But next out was the leader, William Fox Pitt. Equally classy, he knew he needed to be fast to win the Olympic gold he so coveted. And after Burtons performance only a perfect round would do. but sadly it was not to be. A circle turned at the last part of 20 saw the end of the comeback dream for the British legend. But another eventing legend, sixty year old Mark Todd and Leonidas were just behind him hoping to get the Kiwi's back on track. It was also a brilliant round, flawless and as one might expect from the veteran of eight Olympic Games. Clear for two time penalties. Legends were coming thick and fast as he was followed by the second German rider, defending champion and Grand Slam holder, Michael Jumg riding his beloved Sam. Superlatives are almost exhausted for this combination but they finished clear and 14 seconds inside the time putting the German challenge right back on track. But the Americans were in trouble at when Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen was given a resistance going into the first water, in addition to the time they wasted, and then they were eliminated at Fence 17 for a third resistance. Brasil's Carlos Paro though, flew round on his off the track TB, Summon Up the Bloody for 4 time penalties and an ovation from the home crowd.
By the third rotation of team riders, France were lying second behind Australia as Thibault Valette set off on Qing du Briot. Athough the rider seemed to be having a problem with his right arm and scored some time penalties, he was the second clear for the French. Jonty Evans capitalised on his excellent dressage with an efficient clear round on Cooleys Rorke's Drift. However the French grip on the lead did not last long. Stuart Tinney made up for his discard dressage score with the third Australian clear, this one with 2.8 time penalties. Pippa Funnell was looking as if she might save a vestige of British pride but unfortunately she had a run out a the carved frog in the last water and was then taken a little unwell after her ride. The New Zealand team put a bit of pressure on Australia when Clarke Johnson rode a super clear on Balmoral Sensation. But the German team defence disintegrated when Julia Krajewki had a stop at the first water on Samourai du Thot followed by another two fences later and a third at 17 meaning she was eliminated and all the pressure for a team score would rest on Ingrid Klimke. Lauren Kieffer and Veronica were clear for the USA until the Malmsbury Fence were Kieffer took the risk on the extremely difficult direct route and paid the penalty at the second part, falling heavily but getting up unscathed although eliminated.
Last rider drama
The Australian overnight lead was assured going into the fourth round of team riders until Shane Rose and Adelaide winner CP Qualified couldn't improve their position when he was eliminated at the last water jump which meant technically either Germany or New Zealand could overtake them. Canada got a team score with a fault free jumping round from Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master and just 12 time penalties. Mark Kyle could not help Ireland much after a run out at the notorious step and brush fences on Jemilla. Mathieu Lemoine and Bart L got a few time penalties but kept France in the medal race. Kitty King was clear on Ceylor LAN but slow although the British were flattered by the fact they had got all four team members round. Jonelle Price and the diminutive Faerie Dianamo shot New Zealand back into medal contention with an eight time penalty clear round. Merel Blom gave the Dutch a team result with a 12 penalty round on Rumour Has It. But ominously for all the teams, almost last to go was Ingrid Klimke and Hale Bop. A decent round from her could still send the Germans back to the head of the score sheet but she had a run out a the last water and then when representing, appeared to jump part of the fence twice although she was only given a run out. Phillip Dutton meanwhile on second choice horse Mighty Nice, joined Boyd Martin in the top ten to give the USA some hope of an individual medal even though their team hopes were gone. The top four teams after cross country are
1. Australia 150.3
2.New Zealand 154.8
3. France 161.00
Of the individual riders, mention must be made of the Chillean representative. Tactfully ridden, Ranco finished clear with his ears pricked and was a complete credit to his country and his rider Carlos Lobos Munoz and actually showed up several much more experienced combinations. Camilla Kruger of Zimbabwe also got home clear, although jumping all the long routes, which was more than half the British team did! Karen Donkers was jumped out of the saddle at teh second brush after the step but Alec Hua Tian was clear on Don Geniro and fast enough to maintain his top twenty placing.
1. Chris Burton (Aus) Santano 37.6
2. Michael Jung (Ger) Sam FBW 40.9
3. Astier Nicholas (FR) Piaf de B'Neville 42.0
4. Mark Todd (NZ) Leonidas 46.0
5. Phillip Dutton (USA) Mighty Nice 46.8
6. Boyd Martin (USA) Blackfoot Mystery 50.9
Full scores are here https://www.rio2016.com/en/equestrian-eventing-individual-cross-country