It was a magnificent day of showing in Rio, as the champions of the sport duked it out on the sand on a beautiful day. The jumpers were not plagued by the wind that tore through the venues yesterday, causing mayhem for many sports. Instead it was a bright, quiet day, marked by eruptive cheers for the all-clear qualifying teams: Team USA, The Netherlands, Germany, and the home team of Brazil.
The 21 clears belie the challenge of the course, as the triple combination, the open water, and the final in and out that capped the course troubled even the best of riders all day. There were two eliminations by refusal, and one unfortunate tumble.
Americans Come Out Swinging
Team USA had nearly a flawless day, with Kent Farrington, Lucy Davis, and Mclain Ward all having the rounds of a lifetime. Not a hair out of place, and with time to spare, the first three American riders made it look like a day in the park.
Kent Farrington’s clear on day 1 and day 2 have him poised for glory in the individual battle, as he currently shares the top spot with 10 other riders who have yet to make a mistake.
Kent Farrington USA. PC: Richard Juilliart/FEI
Beezie Madden was the one troubled round for the Americans, having a fence down early that had not caused many problems on course. She then rode ‘Tiny’ hard and purposefully to the water, but he just couldn’t reach the far side without a foot on the line. The first fault seemed very avoidable, while the water appeared to truly be all that Cortes ‘C’ could give.
With Beezie as the drop score, however, the team enters tomorrow’s Team Final as one of four clean team scores, with loads of talent breathing down their backs.
Germans and Dutch Perform As Expected
There were no surprises in seeing the Netherlands and Germany atop the leaderboard after the first round, as their heaps of star riders put in textbook performances through a tricky course. The Dutch team however, shared in the American’s dark cloud anchor round, as Jur Vreiling and Zirocco Blue stopped hard going into the triple combination. On their second attempt they cleared the first of the triple, but stopped again at the middle fence, which resulted in elimination. It is unclear at this point if Jur will continue on in the competition.
Ludger Beerbaum for Germany also had an uncharacteristic rail, and thus was the drop score in an otherwise perfect day for the Germans, and they look to be a formidable bunch in the team final, led by #1 ranked Christian Ahlmann.
Christian Ahlmann GER Taloubet Z. PC: Richard Juilliart/FEI
Brazil and coach George Morris Wow the Home Crowd
Brazilian fans were treated to a spectacular show of their world class riders rising to the occasion – literally – to leave the jumps up today and share in the glory of a perfect first team round.
Eduardo Menezes aboard Quintol, Alvaro Doda de Miranda aboard Cornetto K, and Pedro Veniss with Quabri de L’isle left every fence untouched as an absolutely silent crowd looked on. The shifted from deafening silence to eruptive joy as each cleared the final fence, and even the guarded George Morris looked delighted from his spot at the Kiss and Cry podium.
Eduardo Menezes (BRA). PC: Richard Juilliart/FEI
Their dark spot in the day came in the form of a disqualification for Stephan de Freitas Barcha and his horse Landpeter do Feroleto, who was found to have blood results from spurring. The FEI rules are very clear that any blood on the horse results in a DQ, as was the case here. Fortunately for the team results, the Stephan was the drop score after an eight-fault round. It is unclear if the combination will continue in the competition on Wednesday.
Other Team Highs and Lows
In addition to the clear qualifiers, France qualified as the fifth best team with only a single time fault, followed by Canada qualifying on a score of 4, Sweden with a score of 8, and Switzerland with a score of 8. The team debut for Qatar was just one time penalty short of the cutoff, coming in at 9 faults. While they’re surely disappointed, they made a tremendous debut performance, and will have riders in the individual finals still to come.
Great Britain was also quite gutted not to qualify with their team of veterans, as Nick Skelton had a controversial nick of the tape on the open water. They appealed and lost, adding four faults to penalties from Ben Maher and John and Michael Whitaker, leaving the team in 12th place overall.
Australia too had a disappointing day. Despite a really lovely clear to open the day for the team from Matt Williams and Valinski S, Edwina Tops-Alexander and Lintea Tequila racked up a rail and a time fault, James Paterson-Robinson and Amarillo brought in 9, and worst of all, Scott Keach tumbled head over heels into the front wall of the open water when Fedor stopped dead, resulting in their elimination. (both horse and rider are reported to be okay).
Ukraine had an off day, which was compounded by the fact that Cassio Rivetti and Fine Fleur du Marais were also eliminated for bloody spur marks.
Individual Battle Could be (Almost) Anyone’s Game
The top 60 will come back to contest the individual final on Friday morning But the current double clears are obvious candidates for glory. Among them is American Kent Farrington, Christian Ahlmann (GER), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER), Dutchman Harrie Smolders, Eric Lamaze (CAN) and Brazilians Pedro Veniss and Alvaro Doda de Miranda.
Alvaro Doda de Miranda (BRA) PC: Richard Juilliart/FEI
Meredith certainly has shown her pluck in these games, getting the promotion from reserve rider just hours before the first round and delivering masterful rides since.
For that matter, there are three Germans in the elite eleven, as the Daniel Deusser is also in the fray.
Americans Lucy Davis and Mclain Ward managed to squeak in with their clear rounds today combined with their respective four faults from round 1.
The only non-team rider to qualify for the individual finals was Luciana Diniz of Portugal. Ireland’s lone hopes in Greg Broderick were sadly dashed over the two opening rounds, as he collected eight faults in the first round, and an additional four jumping penalties and a time fault today.
The Rio Olympics Team Final will run tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. Rio time, 9 a.m. ET, and we’ll be providing live updates here as we did today.
Keep it locked on JN, and Go Jumping!
Qualifying Nations for Team Final: (link to full list)
Elite Eleven Going Clear into Individual Final (link to full individual results)