Exponential is excited that it’s XC time! photo by Calina

Just before the start of dressage, I spent some time trying to identify which horse/rider pairs would be at the top of the standings following the dressage phase. I ultimately identified 25 riders and it included Oiwa Yoshiaki, Stefano Brecciaroli and Mark Todd.

The top 25 after dressage are as follows:

1 70 Japan OIWA Yoshiaki NOONDAY DE CONDE 38.10 +
3 74 New Zealand TODD Mark CAMPINO 39.10 +
=4 33 Germany KLIMKE Ingrid BUTTS ABRAXXAS 39.30 +
=4 41 Sweden ALGOTSSON OSTHOLT Sara WEGA 39.30 +
6 18 Germany SCHRADE Dirk KING ARTUS 39.80 +
=7 47 Australia FREDERICKS Lucinda FLYING FINISH 40.00 +
=7 49 Germany AUFFARTH Sandra OPGUN LOUVO 40.00 +
=7 68 Belgium DONCKERS Karin GAZELLE DE LA BRASSERIE 40.00 +
10 63 Australia FREDERICKS Clayton BENDIGO 40.40 +
11 65 Germany JUNG Michael SAM 40.60 +
12 24 Great Britain KING Mary IMPERIAL CAVALIER 40.90 +
13 31 Australia HOY Andrew RUTHERGLEN 41.70 +
14 56 Great Britain COOK Kristina MINERS FROLIC 42.00 +
15 54 Japan SATO Kenki CHIPPIEH 42.20 +
16 25 Sweden SVENNERSTAL Ludvig SHAMWARI 43.70 +
=17 26 New Zealand PAGET Jonathan CLIFTON PROMISE 44.10 +
=17 72 Great Britain FOX-PITT William LIONHEART 44.10 +
19 62 United States of America DUTTON Phillip MYSTERY WHISPER 44.30 +
20 48 France SCHAULY Donatien OCARINA DU CHANOIS 44.40 +
21 58 New Zealand NICHOLSON Andrew NEREO 45.00 +
22 57 Sweden LINDBACK Niklas MISTER POOH 45.20 +
23 16 Australia GRIFFITHS Sam HAPPY TIMES 45.40 +
=24 2 Australia BURTON Christopher HP LEILANI 46.10 +
=24 40 Great Britain PHILLIPS Zara HIGH KINGDOM 46.10

While I manage to correctly 20 of the top 25, there were a couple of surprises. Namely, Andrew Hoy (though, he only barely got cut from my original list) as well as Ludvick Svennerstal, Jonathan Paget, Donatien Schauly and Sam Griffiths. I thought these riders would be just outside the top 25, but they all put in very competitive tests.

My biggest disappointment over the two days was Lenamore’s score. I am a huge fan, and was really hoping this 19 year-old veteran would school the youngsters. Michael Jung’s score was also a disappointment – though I’m sure his fellow competitors were feeling a bit gleeful. The 33 he earned at WEG made him really difficult to catch.

Hawley Bennett and Gin & Juice – London 2012

On the other hand, Hawley Bennett and Gin & Juice really showed up and delivered an impressive performance. I got some flack after my earlier post for not including any Canadians. It isn’t that I forgot, or that I don’t believe we have some hugely talented pairs. It’s just that dressage is not their strongest phase – the Canadians will make up ground today on cross country. Jessica Phoenix with Exponential and Rebecca Howard with Riddle Master also excelled under pressure today. Jessie, in particular, chose a great time to ride Tucker to a personal best at the 4* level.

Mary King and Imperial Cavalier – London 2012

Finally, because I’m a bit of a Mary King fan – I have to point out that Imperial Cavalier kept his cool and also delivered a personal best of 40.90. She is the top placed Brit after dressage.

Holstein Park Leilani and Chris Burton at Pau

I expect that we’ll see a lot of movement in the top placings today – particular as the time looks to be hard to meet. The same thing happened in 2008 when Hinrich Rmeike won after adding 12.8 in time penalties to his score (as well as 4 jump faults during show jumping). The twisty/hilly nature of the course makes it very tough to predict how things will go and how many specific time faults each horse will earn. Instead, I’ll address a few of the top placed pairs and then pick my Top 15 based largely on gut instinct and historical markers. Of course, the wonderful thing about cross country day is that historical indicators can matter very very little.

Anything can happen on XC day…

Of the top 3, I think only Mark Todd will be in the mix for individual gold after cross country. While I think that Oiwa and Brecciaroli will jump clean, they will likely incur significant time faults. Oiwa’s Noonday de Conde has never run a 4* and only stepped up to the 3* level last year. Oiwa will likely opt to take it a bit slow rather than risk incurring costly jumping faults. I think that Brecciaroli will also jump around the course without issue – his horse has never had a jumping fault on XC in FEI events – but he will also incur a number of time penalties. This pair had 15.2 at WEG and 9.2 at the European Championships where the time was not nearly as illusive as I suspect it will be today

Stefano Brecciaroli and Apollo VD Wendi Kurt Hoeve at WEG 2010

As for Campino, if it was anyone other than Mark Todd, I’d have concerns about not only time penalties but jumping ones too. Campino is fairly inexperienced and in his last 5 outings at the 3* level, he has had two stops and an elimination. Though, I understand the elimination to have been of the technical variety. I think Campino will jump around tomorrow, and have only a few time faults. Toddy isn’t a legend for nothing!

Mark Todd and Campino – London 2012

As for the Top 15 after cross country – I think the following pairs will be in the mix:

– Mark Todd & Campino

– Sara Algotsson Ostholt & Wega

– Dirk Schrade & King Artus

– Sandra Auffarth & Opgun Louvo

– Clayton Fredericks & Bendigo

– Michael Jung & Sam

– Mary King & Imperial Cavalier

– Tina Cook & Miner’s Frolic

– William Fox-Pitt & Lionheart

– Jonathan Paget & Clifton Promise

– Karen O’Connor & Mr. Medicott

– Hawley Bennett & Gin & Juice

– Andrew Nicholson & Nereo

– Phillip Dutton & Mystery Whisper

– Chris Burton & HP Leilani

I’m also expecting great things from the Canadian Team!