Fox Pitt Edges Into Dressage Lead

William Fox Pitt and Chilli Morning
Credit : Icon Scoop

Saturday 06 August - 23h35 | FEI/Lulu Kyriacou

Fox Pitt Edges Into Dressage Lead

William Fox Pitt has taken the lead in the dressage phase of the Three Day Event at the 2016 Olympic Games and catapulted the British team into third place of the team standings at this early stage in proceedings.

 - Fox Pitt Edges Into Dressage Lead

Fox Pitt Discusses His Test
Credit : Iconscoop

It’s not everyone’s idea of the perfect rehab for a serious head injury, but Britain’s William Fox-Pitt defied all the odds to take the early lead as Olympic Eventing got underway at the Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) today.
Riding the 16-year-old stallion, Chilli Morning, the man who spent two weeks in a coma after a fall while competing in France last October produced a great score of 37.00 in the opening dressage phase of this sport that is seen as an equestrian triathlon. Chilli Morning looked very lean and fit but was exremely calm in his test producing some particularly beautiful uphill transitions and changes in his test.
All along Rio has been my target, totally. It was unrealistic, but it was mine”, the 47-year-old said. “I was in a coma for a couple of weeks and my sight was quite dodgy, I went from blind to seeing double so when I started jumping there were two jumps. It’s been a journey, but I’ve had so much support! Mentally I was very tired, I probably still am. I feel like I’m waking up, but slowly.”
He was chasing the target of 37.60 set by Australia’s Christopher Burton (34) and his young nine-year-old gelding, Santano II, whose performance was greeted by a roar of approval from the crowd. But when Fox-Pitt overtook his Aussie rival by a mere .6, the gentlemanly Brit was rewarded with another huge response from the spectators.
His result, added to the 47.20 achieved by team mate Gemma Tattersall (31) with Quicklook V, leaves Team GB in third before the remaining 31 horse-and-rider combinations take their turn in the dressage phase tomorrow. But it’s very tight at the top of the teams, with London 2012 gold medalists Germany in first on 82.5, just 1.5 ahead of Australia in second. Great Britain, on 84.2, is third of the 13 teams.
Just behind Burton in the individual rankings is defending Olympic champion Michael Jung (34) on Sam, the horse he rode to spearhead the Germany team win four years ago. On a mark of 40.90 Jung is just ahead of his compatriot and reigning world champion Sandra Auffarth, who lies fourth with Opgun Louvo on 41.60.
Asked about his test the British number one was completely positve about his horse, his health and his Rio experience. "Of course I am happy, it is what I dreamed of. The horse is good on the flat He has worked briliant in the warm up, he was lovely and calm, he has done good tests in many places. I hope I dont let him down, today he felt lovely and calm but there are lots of good horses to come. The course is big, the biggest Games course I have walked and I have walked round a few but Chilli is ready I hope I can do him justice as I am lucky to be here at all. At one point I didnt think I would make it, I have been very lucky with my rehab and I have seen more experts than you can shake a stick at  but I am here!  I am pleased that I went the right way and Tracie Robinson has been a great help not only here but t home when I couldnt ride. I am OK though and we can do it. the positive support has been brilliant.

​Asked whether his injury had made him reconsider wearing a top hat, Fox Pitt was adamant it had not and would not. "No" he said, "I have always worn a top hat fr dressage and it is part of the traditional dress. When they make crash hats compulsory, I willl wear one but not until then."   

Germany had taken the early lead in the Olympic Eventing  after the  first riders in the dressage phase.  Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo made mistakes in their first changes but  still were good enough to take the lead from France\'s Asterier Nicholas. The reigning World Champion thought that her horse was a bit fresh at the beginning of her test and she had not ridden him with her usual confidence but they improved throughout the test to score a nine for their final  halt.  Astier Nicholas also made a mistake in the changes  but otherwise his test on Piaf de B'Neville was good and has given the French a strong start.  Both riders  thought the cross country course will hae a big impact, Nicholas saying that the size of the fences would make it a 4* even if the technical difficulty was more 3* level. Auffarth thought there was no place to relax, the questions came all the way to the end of Pierre Michelet's couse. The French finished the day with two riders in the top ten, as Karim Laghoag went into sixth on Entebbe and are currently fourth in the team standings.  There are less than ten penalties between the top five teams (New Zealand are fifth) so the winner is still a long way from being decided.

​Full results are here

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