I’m going to be very honest….I am sitting at home (although I would have killed to get to London) and just finished watching the first round of the Olympic Show Jumping from when it recorded at some awful hour this morning onto my PVR.
I must say though, my couch is probably the most comfortable seat I have had and trees/speakers/decorations/people were never blocking my view – kinda nice!
Anyway… day one of the show jumping was the first individual qualifier, with the top 60 advancing.
With that said, if a “team” rider found themselves out of the top 60, even though they will not advance individually, they will jump in the team competition (starts Sunday), the order determined by this round: Chile, Canada, Mexico, Ukraine, Great Britain, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, France, Germany, United States, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium.
So how did Day One go?
Well, overall, very well. The course wasn’t overly tough and seemed to slow quite nicely for the majority of pairs. In fact, 32 pairs managed a double clear! Obviously, the course is going to get a lot tougher with both its technical questions and size, but this was a great first day of competition to get the horses very comfortable and jumping well.
The absolute biggest shock of the day came towards the end of the class when Beezie Madden and Via Volo had an extremely uncharacteristic refusal at 9b, followed by another refusal upon reattempt and elimination. I think my jaw actually dropped. On the way to 9a you could tell that Via was getting backed off (and I believe Beezie opted for the 8 instead of the 7 to it) and she got deep to the vertical, landing in quite a heap off to the left. Due to this, she was simply unable to make any sort of distance to the second element, and Beezie pulled her out. The same thing happened the second time – Via landed short with a lack of impulsion and couldn’t make the 2 strides. Darn! This means that yes, Beezie is out of individual contention, but I think we will see her return with a vengeance and put in some solid rounds for her team.
Team USA had a good day otherwise, McLain Ward (Antares) and Rich Fellers (Flexible!!!!!!) posted fantastic clears, and Reed Kessler looked cool as a cucumber on Cylana with just a single time fault.
And Canada? Not bad!
First in, Jill Henselwood and George looked pretty good. George can be very spooky and very strong, but he seemed to hold himself together quite well. After a very exuberant jump over the triple bar at 3a, and a slightly crooked stride, they unfortunately had 3b down, but they put in a very respectable round (4+1 time). He actually reminds me a lot of Special Ed…
Second in for Canada, Tiffany Foster and Victor put in a solid ride, Tiffany looked very focused and Victor was fairly unfazed by the atmosphere. A couple pesky rails would fall to the sand for them to finish with 8 faults (but they just made the top 60, so she is moving on!).
Third in for Canada was none other than Eric Lamaze on Derly. The last time I saw Derly was at Spruce when she was have a few issues, so boy was I nervous! But alas, no need to fear with Eric in the irons because he expertly guided her to a very neat and calm-looking clear!
Even though he appeared to be going quite slow, he made every stride count and easily finished under the time as well. In my preamble, when I was talking about how this course was wonderful in giving the horses confidence, I think this holds especially true for Derly. Hopefully after this ‘easy’ go, she will rise to the challenge of the coming courses with ease.
Fourth in was Captain Canada, riding in his tenth Olympics, with the lovely Star Power. As usual, they looked really nice and Star Power looked….awake. I always find that it takes him a little while to get going in a course, but he was there from the first fence- this atmosphere is doing him well! Unfortunately, they would have one rail towards the end, but overall, look like a very strong anchor pair for Canada.
Some photos from today’s qualifier…
Other standout rounds of the day (for me), came from Daniel Bluman on Sancha, Nick Skelton on Big Star, Ben Maher on Tripple X, and Cian O’Connor on Blue Loyd. But, honestly, there were a lot of good rounds, the race for medals is going to be tight…..and I’ll be watching from my couch!