London 2012: Equestrian – Cross-Country Delight for Team GB
Great Britain’s equestrian team had a hugely successful day at Greenwich Park during the cross-country phase of the three-day eventing competition. Such results mean that Team GB is in the silver medal position overnight, having clawed their way up the leaderboard from third.
After earlier spectacular performances by Nicola Wilson and Mary King, Tina Cook, Zara Phillips and William Fox-Pitt took to the challenging and brilliantly unique course.
Wilson was keeping her dressage score of 51.70 penalties, whilst King momentarily rode into the lead with a total of 42.10 penalties.
Zara Phillips was the next British rider to compete and her performance was one to savour. Riding High Kingdom, a horse with relative inexperience compared to the other horses in the GB team, Phillips set off determinedly and stayed focused throughout the round. Her riding was competent and professional and she looked constantly confident as she negotiated the twists and turns of Greenwich Park.
As she crossed the finishing line, an elated Phillips punched the air. She was well within the optimum course limit of 10 minutes and 3 seconds and therefore kept her dressage score of 46.10. For a time, Phillips leap-frogged Britain into the gold medal position, in helping her country tighten its grip on a potential podium finish
Miners Frolic was ridden by Tina Cook and this partnership, which won bronze in Beijing four years ago, was up next for Britain. Miners Frolic almost died of colitis last year and getting the horse back to full fitness in order to qualify for the Olympics was some achievement on the part of Cook. Needless to say it has been an emotional rollercoaster for the rider and during today’s round, everything went foot-perfectly.
She took her time early on in the round, careful to give her mount plenty of time over some of the more tricky fences. As her round wore on though, she started to let Miners Frolic quicken and they came home easily within the time.
It meant that Cook kept 42.00 penalties and became the highest ranked British jockey.
William Fox-Pitt was the last British rider to go out and he put up an excellent effort. Despite finishing a little outside the optimum time limit, incurring 9.20 time penalties in the process, he still has a chance of an individual medal. His horse, Lionheart, appeared to become a little weary in the closing stages and the rider did a good job in nursing him home over the 28 fences.
Indeed, the course produced many casualties and no less than 15 horses and riders were eliminated from the competition. That number included some big names from Australia, who endured a horrific cross-country round. Both Sam Griffiths and Clayton Fredericks took tumbles.
Japan also had a torrid time, with three of their five riders coming down and eliminated. Included in those unlucky three was Yoshiaki Oiwa, who was the overall leader after a fabulous dressage effort.
Canada also lost three riders, whilst Ireland lost two.
Germany, on the other hand, also had a good day, although their lead in the team standings was eroded by Great Britain, Sweden and New Zealand. Germany’s Ingrid Klimke still has the overall individual lead though and Michael Jung is sitting pretty in fourth.
Tonight promises to be a sleepless one for all concerned. Germany is one, but not two, fences ahead in the team standings. At the same time, just one fence separates silver, bronze and fourth positions.
Team Rankings after Cross-Country
1. Germany 124.70
2. Great Britain 130.20
3. Sweden 131.40
4. New Zealand 133.40
Image courtesy of london2012.com