The first round of the show jumping team competitions at the Olympic Games is over and four teams – The USA, the Netherlands, Brazil and Germany are currently in first position with no penalty points. France only has one time penalty point. “I cannot remember an occasion when it was like that,” national coach Otto Becker said. “The course was too easy,” he analyzed. His riders all thought that they would have thought they would make more mistakes when they walked the course, but that it was actually easier than it looked. Becker further said: “The dimensions were ok, but technically it was too easy. However, I can understand that they’re not exaggerating when the weaker nations are still in the competition. Tomorrow it will – and must- certainly be different.
The eight nations who are allowed to compete in the second round are next to the five named above Canada, Sweden and Switzerland. Surprisingly the British all made mistakes and only finished in 12th place. Spain finished in 11th.
For Germany everything went quite similar to the qualification two days ago. Christian Ahlmann and KWPN stallion Taloubet Z by Galoubet A/Polydor were the first German team to leave the arena after a clear round. When he, the 36th rider to start, entered the arena there already had been some clear rounds the rider from Marl said: “Today it was a bit more than two days ago. But I think that the course designer was shocked by the in part ugly things that happened in the first competition. I really hoped for a clear round since there were already so many of them. But Taloubet jumped very powerful from the first to the last obstacle.”
Christian Ahlmann didn’t mind that he rode after a Brazilian and that the audience made incredible noise: “I just stayed outside until most of the shouting was over. We were lucky that the stewards allowed us to do so. We shouldn’t forbid the audience to cheer. It’s o.k like it is and good for our sport. It’s also nice that the Brazilian team performs so well here.”
Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum was the second rider to compete. With Swedish gelding Fibonnaci by For Feeling/Corland she also had no mistakes. “I’m relieved,” she said. “You feel the pressure here. There was one clear round after the other and then it becomes even more difficult. It’s a nice feeling but getting there is a long way.” The born American didn’t think that the course was too easy; she explained the many clear rounds with the perfect conditions during the warm up and inside the arena. “When we walked the course we thought it was of appropriate difficulty,” she said. She is confident that her horse will perform well tomorrow in the possibly more challenging course: “His energy is endless. I think other horses might be more tired tomorrow.”
Daniel Deußer and chestnut Belgian gelding First Class by Balou du Rouet/Feinschnitt I also stayed clear in the first round. The rider who lives in Belgium was surprised by the course: “It was easier to ride than I expected. Today having one fence down can already be to much. Now we’re still at the forefront but it’s still a long way to victory. But we thought that more mistakes would be made today. Now we’re all really close together and there was more pressure to stay clear than on the first day.” Even though the water obstacle again was a source of trouble today Deußer does not think that it should be banned from Olympic courses. “It’s an obstacle with tradition. It makes the sport more interesting. Riding to the obstacle and then reigning your horse back in… I can imagine that some people who cannot find the right line to the water or who have a horse which doesn’t like water want to have it removed but I don’t agree with them.”
Like on the first day Ludger Beerbaum and Holsteiner gelding Casello by Casall/Carolus I made a mistake, but a careless mistake like Otto Becker called it. However, this didn’t faze the experienced rider. He didn’t want to think about the individual rating yet. “If you had showed me that this morning I would have signed it with a smiley. There were so many times when we had three fences down. I’m part of this team and we’re here in the team competition and that is what counts. But I’m content with my performance. Once we came too close but that’s o.k. The individual rating doesn’t count here.”
Ludger Beerbaum also didn’t think that the course was too difficult: “I think without the water, the triple combination and the time we would have had a historic result. But the competition will be decided tomorrow. Today is just a hint. I think that even a team with twelve points could still play a role concerning the top places. Our beginning was great.” When asked again how he thought what his chances were he said again: “I’m the last one to gloss over my frustration. Until tomorrow evening the team is everything that counts and I don’t care about the rest. And considering how my horse jumped today I think we’ll be able to play our part.”
After the two riders from yesterday (Jur Vrieling and Nicola Philppaerts) two more riders got disqualified today – Ukrainian Cassio Rivetti and Brazilian Stephan de Freitas Barcha – so the Brazilian team will not have a deleted result tomorrow. They got disqualified due to the blood rule and excessive use of the spurs. Otto Becker does not really understand this: “Yes, the rules are important but the judges here are really strict. They press the horses with their white gloves and just a slight negligence can lead to disqualifaction. The rule is fine but you needn’t press your gloves onto the horses.”
Beezie Madden, placed third at the WEG and Cortes C will not be able to compete in the individual rating since they had 8 penalty points and therefore no longer belong to the best 45 pairs. Irish single rider Greg Broderick and Going Global, whose nomination was fodder for a lot of discussion before the Olympic Games is also already out. Legend John Whitaker and Holsteiner mare Ornellaia also will not be allowed to compete further. The 61-year-old was disappointed. “She felt so safe. I think she saw the triple combination too late. I don’t know. It was not typical for her. I was so looking forward to the Games and had so high hopes.”
Tomorrow beginning at 10 am (3 pm in Germany) the second and decisive round will begin. Then we’ll know which teams will win gold, silver, and bronze.