Monday, July 30, 2012

Good Ponies

The cross country phase of the Olympic 3 Day Eventing was today and there were lots of good ponies. Currently the German team stands in 1st place with a total score of 124.70, which is no surprise to anyone. But the Brits had a terrific day and are close on their heels in 2nd place with a team score of 130.20, only 5.5 points out. One rail down and a few time faults in tomorrow's stadium round could change everything. But Sweden is breathing down BOTH teams' necks with a score of 131.40, only another 1.2 points behind Britain and a mere 6.7 points out of 1st place.  The three teams are stacked up on top of each other. There could be a lot of movement in tomorrow's standings, depending on how tired the horses are after the HUGE effort of today.

Our American team had a good go overall, currently standing in 5th place, though none of our riders had a completely clear round. Boyd Martin was the first man on course, which is always a tough spot as you do not have the opportunity to actually see how the course is riding; you only have your course walk and the idea of how it will go in your head. But he had a fabulous ride, finishing clean for jump faults and with only 3.6 time faults over a very twisting, turning course. Next up was Karen O'Connor, one of the veterans on the team, and she rode like the pro that she is, finishing a beautiful round confidently and adding only 5.6 time penalties to her dressage score. Tiana Coudray was next. As the youngest member of the team, both she and her horse were the rookies. But boy! are they talented rookies. It took her magnificent gelding, Ringwood Magister a few fences to settle into the job at hand, and unfortunately, his unsteadiness cost them a jump penalty at Fence 3. This fence proved to be a bugger for a number of riders throughout the day; it was the fence where Hawley Bennett-Awad, on the Canadian team, fell and was removed by ambulance to the hospital later in the competition. But that stop seemed to be the antidote to their nerves because after that one mishap Tiana and "Finn" had a glorious go, adding only 5.6 time penalties to their jump faults of 20 penalties. That is, quite frankly, amazing. A stop ALWAYS costs you time, from the stop itself to retaking the fence to regaining your rhythm and concentration. To have a stop yet finish the course with only 5.6 time penalties qualifies her for FLYING SPEED! To give you an idea of just what I mean, William Coleman riding Twizzel was our next rider out on course and he came to grief at the precipitous down bank where his horse stopped to take a peek before going over. Like Tiana, Will had only one stop in an otherwise superb go, but ended the course with 16.4 time penalties in addition to the 20 jump penalties added to his score. As I said, Tiana and Finn FLEW around that course.

This is what the horse sees at the top of the down bank.
Twizzel politely said,  "Hold on, I'd like a little look-see."

The picture of the down bank is courtesy of Horse Tip Daily.

Riding anchor for the team was the legendary Phillip Dutton aboard Mystery Whisper, and the pair pulled out all the stops for a fantastic ride, finishing the course handily and adding only 2.8 time penalties to their dressage score of 44.30.

The Chronicle of the Horse has great pictures of the jog out where the riders presented their horses to the ground jury before competition. They present again tomorrow before stadium to allow the ground jury to assess the horse for soundness after today's test of endurance.

Here is our team at the jog:

Boyd Martin and Otis Barbotiere

Karen O'Connor and Mr. Medicott

Tiana Coudray and Ringwood Magister

Will Coleman and Twizzel

Phillip Dutton and Mystery Whisper

And the BEST news of the entire day is that Hawley Bennett-Awad is going to be fine. Here she is giving a thumbs up from the hospital!

Hawley, giving her fans a thumbs up, manages to look gorgeous even in a hospital gown. Damn, girl!

Here is Hawley at the jog out before dressage with her stunning little mare, Gin N Juice. The two are quite a pair.

These two beautiful ladies will go on to jump more of the world's top courses.

Tomorrow is stadium. As we say in eventing, "It ain't over until the fat boy rides."

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