Australia led the eventing after Christopher Burton rode a fast and clean round on a cross country course full of falls, refusals and time penalties.
Defending champions Germany dropped from first after dressage to fourth in team standings on Monday though Michael Jung, who took home individual gold four years ago, is in second place behind Burton.
"I took a few long routes because this is a difficult course... but he is so fast!" said Burton, 34, one of only three horse and rider pairs to escape penalties.
"I was not expecting this, he has far and above exceeded our expectations," he said of his horse Santano II who had never jumped an elite four-star course before.
Burton's performance helped pull Australia ahead of New Zealand and France. Medals will be awarded on Tuesday after show jumping, the third and final phase of eventing.
Five-time Olympian William Fox-Pitt of Great Britain led after the dressage phase but on Monday missed a tight turn and had a refusal at a brush fence, dropping to 22nd. Fox-Pitt made a miraculous recovery from an ugly fall that had him in a medically induced coma just eight months ago.
Eighteen of 65 horse and rider pairs were eliminated or withdrew on Monday, five with falls on what several riders said was the most difficult course they had ever ridden. Two falls early in the competition caused many teams to adjust their strategies.
"They told me to take it really safe," said Mark Todd, who at 60 is attending his seventh Olympics, after team mate Tim Price fell.
"I thought we were going to make it (within the time allowed) but there were just so many jumps at the end," said Todd, who had two time penalties and finished fourth.
A combination of tight turns through water near the end of the five-kilometer course saw many horses balk, and Olympic veterans Ingrid Klimke of Germany, Australia's Shane Rose and Pippa Funnell of Great Britain all had refusals there.
"It was a lot of run-outs and dramatic things," said course designer Pierre Michelet. "Some were riders we were not expecting."
The U.S. had one rider withdraw and one eliminated, knocking the team into 12th place ahead of Russia, which finished last.
Full Team Results HERE
A brilliant ride by Ingrid Klimke maintained Team Germany’s lead as Eventing dressage drew to a close at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro (BRA). But her score of 39.50 with Bob gives the defending Olympic champions only a fractional advantage of 0.2 penalties over the feisty French side going into tomorrow’s much-anticipated cross-country phase.
In a typical Olympic contest during which some competitors exceeded expectations while others couldn’t find the performances they were looking for today, it was the mark of 39.20 earned by Mathieu Lemoine and the elegant Bart L that put the French right into the frame. So, fourth-last to go, Klimke could feel the pressure, but the 48-year-old daughter of dressage legend Reiner Klimke, who scooped eight Olympic medals during his spectacular career, kept a cool head.
It wasn’t all plain sailing however.
“Bob was quite excited outside in the warm-up and he was bucking, but when he came into the arena he just went “OK, here I am, I’m ready - if you want let’s go for it!” she said afterwards.
There’s very little between the leading group of countries going into tomorrow’s cross-country phase, with the Australians lying third, just over four penalty points behind the French, and the British just one more point further adrift in fourth. The Irish moved up a place to fifth thanks to a great performance from Jonty Evans and Cooley’s Rorkes Drift, while New Zealand and USA share sixth.
First-day leader, Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt, remains at the head of the individual standings with Australia’s Christopher Burton hot on his heels, and Lemoine has slotted into third and Klimke into fourth, while defending double-Olympic champion, Michael Jung, is next in line in fifth place. With less than five points separating the top 10 riders however, and few, if any, expected to avoid time penalties while negotiating the tough track set by French course designer, Pierre Michelet, the stage is set for a tremendous day of cross-country action tomorrow.
“I haven’t seen such a challenging course since Sydney (2000 Olympic Games). My Bobby is fast and he is a mature horse so he should cope well and I’m looking forward to it. But we know that when we go out there we have to do a very precise job tomorrow,” Klimke said this evening.
There were surprises of various kinds as the day-two session played out, with some dreams beginning to unravel while others were just starting to take shape. The latter was the case for Jonty Evans who produced a personal-best score at championship level when posting 41.80 with Cooley’s Rorkes Drift. This has left him lying ninth individually and has anchored his country’s chances going into their more-favoured cross-country phase. The judges clearly appreciated the quality of the canterwork of his 10-year-old gelding, one of 11 Irish-bred horses in the field of 65 starters. Evans said, “I’m thrilled to bits with him, he couldn’t have done any more today - he couldn’t have tried any harder.”
China’s Alex Hua Tian enjoyed some moments of brilliance in his test, but had to settle for 42.40 and 12th place at the end of the day with Don Geniro. “I made two big mistakes, the judges really wanted to give me good mark - but I nailed all the changes I think” he said. “The first entry was great, he has a massive extended trot but he took an unbalanced step and broke into canter. It’s very frustrating because it’s the extended that gives him his big scores!” he pointed out.
Belgium’s Karen Donckers slotted herself into seventh individually when posting 41.10 with Fletcha van’t Verahof, but it was two competitive results from Lemoine and Thibaut Valette (Qing du Briot) who put 41.00 on the board, that kept the French team right in the frame. Meanwhile Australia’s Shane Rose really did the business with CP Qualified whose 42.50 ensured the 56.80 posted by Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio could be discounted.
Many of the horses were tense coming into the arena today, but Rose reassured his 13-year-old Holsteiner gelding with a big pat on the neck before going to work into the arena, and was rewarded with a very pleasant performance. Last-line British rider, Kitty King, found herself struggling from the start however with the Dutch-bred Ceylor LAN. And another for whom things didn’t go quite the right way was New Zealand’s Jonelle Price whose nine-year-old, Faerie Dianimo, broke into a canter during their early trot-work, eventually posting 49.50. “I was very disappointed” she said, “he was really hot in the warm-up but I was hoping for better in the arena. It was too bad it happened at the Olympic Games, but I’m hoping for a much better day tomorrow.”
Klimke’s vital anchor ride for Germany might also have been blighted by over-enthusiasm, but she managed to get all the fizz under control at just the right moment and pulled off that all-important score that has kept Germany out in front in the race for the team medals. “I was so pleased in the end, he did a fabulous test” she said of the 12-year-old Bob.
Every one of the riders agree however that dressage will not be the all-influencing factor in Eventing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Pierre Michelet has thought long and hard about how to challenge the most experienced riders in the sport along with those who have relatively less mileage on the clock.
“I want the best to win without asking too big questions of the less experienced riders. The reputation of the sport is important. I want to challenge the riders and I ask them to find clever solutions for the many options on offer. To get on the podium they will need to be brave, accurate and bold” he said. There has indeed been a lot of course-walking going on over the last few days as riders make their plans and then alter them and settle on new ones that will get them home on the quickest and safest route.
“This course is not about one signature fence, it’s about about clearing all of them! I ask the difficult questions from the start, that is my signature. The first water will be fence no. 4 already. The riders need to be ready from step one.”
Talking about creating the lovely track that wends it way up and downhill through the land that surround the Deodoro military complex he explained, “we started three years ago, first with an architectural firm to map out the track and the walkways and then the track builders started to work with improving the ground. Then we decided the spots for the fences. I came to Brazil in December for a month and the final details took two weeks. The layout was the same for the test event in 2015, but all the fences are new because of the different level of difficulty” he pointed out.
Cross-country day looks set to be a thriller, and it seems it’s going to be a wide-open race for the medals right down to the final day. There is almost nothing between the Germans and French at the head of affairs, and with the British so close to the Australians who are currently in bronze medal spot and Ireland, New Zealand and USA a real threat to any of those ahead of them who might lose their grip there’s no room for error over a course that, the night before they take it on, may well be giving many of the world’s top event riders a restless night’s sleep.
The world's best horse and rider combinations will jump over giant logs, toucan carvings and a model of the Sambodromo on a French-designed, 5 km cross country course in Rio's Deodoro park early next week.
Eventing, the first of three Olympic equestrian competitions, kicks off on Saturday with individual and team dressage tests. Horses and riders will move on to the cross country course on Monday and medals will be awarded on Aug 9 after the final stadium jumping phase.
The Rio cross country course, designed by France's Pierre Michelet, starts out with a few inviting obstacles before running the horses through a water combination on obstacle four. Michelet said a down-hill combination at obstacle six, involving a tall and narrow brush jump set at an angle, could cause the most problems.
"I like to ask questions with balance," Michelet told journalists during a course walk on Thursday, adding that posing difficult tests early on a course is his signature.
Michael Jung and Sam, London 2012
Germany is out to repeat a team gold from 2012, with individual winner Michael Jung returning. Jung had to switch horses only a week before the animals were due to fly to Rio after his first choice horse got an infection. He will be riding Sam, a 16-year-old London veteran.
The unpredictable sport also forced last-minute switchups for Great Britain, which finished second behind Germany four years ago. The team added Pippa Funnell and her grey mount Billy The Biz on July 22 after another rider's horse was injured.
Funnell, like fellow Olympic medalist William Fox-Pitt, recovered from scary cross country falls over the past year in one of the Games' most dangerous sports.
"We just hope it’s not going to be too hot. The weather is potentially going to be warm, we just hope we are prepared for it," Fox-Pitt told Reuters.
The Olympics will be covered comprehensively by the BBC. The plan is to show every sport live every day when Rio 2016 Olympics competition begins on Saturday 6th August. BBC1 and BBC4 will be showing the best of the action every day, and like London 2012, the BBC Sport website and the Red Button will have up to 24 extra channels showing every event taking place.
This means we should be able to choose whichever sport we want to watch in full - EQUESTRIAN, (WHOOP!) whenever the action is taking place.
The Equestrian schedule is as follows - all times are UK British Summer Time.
Day 1: Saturday 6th August.
2.00pm—8.00 Eventing: Individual and team dressage, day 1
Day 2: Sunday 7th August.
2.00pm—8.00 Eventing: individual and team dressage, day 2
Day 3: Monday 8th August.
2.00pm—7.00 Eventing: individual and team cross country
Day 4: Tuesday 9th August.
2.00pm—7.25 Eventing: individual and team showjumping finals
Day 5: Wednesday 10th August.
2.00pm—8.00 Dressage: Team Grand Prix, day 1
Day 6: Thursday 11th August.
2.00pm—8.00 Dressage: Team Grand Prix, day 2
Day 7: Friday 12th August.
2.00pm—8.40pm Dressage Grand Prix, day 3: second individual qualifier; team final
Day 10: Monday 15th August.
2.00pm—5.30 Dressage Individual Grand Prix: freestyle
Day 11: Tuesday 16th August.
2.00pm—5.00 Coverage of the team Showjumping qualification, staged at the Olympic Equestrian Centre
Day 12: Wednesday 17th August.
2.00pm—4.45pm Coverage of the team Showjumping finals, staged at the Olympic Equestrian Centre
Day14: Friday 19th August.
2.00pm—4.00 Showjumping: Individual final, round A
5.30pm—6.30 Showjumping: Individual final, round B
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British eventers William Fox-Pitt and Pippa Funnell have more in common than a collection of Olympic medals, with the veteran athletes having recovered from scary cross country falls in order to compete in Rio de Janeiro.
Less than a year ago the now five-time Olympian Fox-Pitt was in a medically induced coma after enduring a head injury falling from a young horse in an October competition.
"It's been hard work – I lost all my fitness... all my strength, all my judgement, all my sight," Fox-Pitt told Reuters on Tuesday, saying gym work, therapy, and cutting riding time back from his normal eight to 12 hours a day aided recovery.
William sharing a moment with his wife, Alice Plunkett
"I always thought I was going to come to Rio. I don’t think my family thought that. My family thought I was mad," he added.
Funnell, who like Fox-Pitt is 47, has also had a roller coaster year involving rehabilitation from a May fall that left her hospitalized for four days, a result of competing in one of the summer Games' most risky sports.
In addition to jumping a stadium course and completing a dressage test, eventers face a more dangerous element: an outdoor cross-country course requiring horses and riders to clear giant obstacles that do not fall down.
"It is a sport you really have to be in top form and brave for and I started to battle, thinking do I really want this?" Funnell said in an interview. She won team silver in Sydney in 2000 and at Athens 2004 as well as an individual bronze in 2004.
Four years ago Funnell, who also coaches and writes children's books, thought her Olympic days were over. She was the British team's travelling reserve until July, when Izzy Taylor withdrew due to an injured horse.
Pippa and Billy The Bizz, Houghton 2015
Unlike Fox-Pitt, who comes to Rio with 2000 stallion Chille Morning, the horse that carried him to a second win at Badminton in 2015, Funnell will ride a younger horse she transitioned from show jumping to eventing just three years ago.
Three-day eventing kicks off the equestrian events at Rio's Deodoro area on Aug. 6 with individual dressage tests.
Team Great Britain was the most successful nation in equestrian events in 2012. The country finished second to Germany in team eventing.
Kitty King and Gemma Tattersall round out Team GB's eventing team in Rio, making their Olympic debuts.
Michael Jung – the legend.
Some say that if you sent him cross-country wearing a blindfold and facing backwards on his horse that Germany’s Michael Jung could still bring home Olympic gold. The most phenomenal rider of the modern sport is the man they will all have to beat when the Eventing discipline of the XXXl Olympiad gets underway at the Olympic Equestrian Venue in Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro (BRA) on 6 August.
Jung arrived at the London Games four years ago hoping to become the first-ever rider to hold the World, European and Olympic titles at the same time, and celebrated his 30th birthday by winning not one, but two gold medals. He has since added team gold at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Normandy (FRA) in 2014, double-gold at last summer’s FEI European Championships in Scotland, and the CCI4* titles at Burghley (GBR) last September and both Lexington (USA) and Badminton (GBR) in May of this year. Just a few short weeks ago he finished first and sixth individually in the latest leg of the FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing 2016 series on the hallowed ground of Aachen (GER). It’s no wonder that fans of this sport are in awe of the formidable athlete and his consistent supremacy.
Jung won’t compete in Brazil with his intended ride, Takinou who picked up an infection recently, but the fact that he has had to switch to his 2012 Olympic ride, 16-year-old Sam, won’t diminish his chances, as it was this horse that cruised into the winner’s enclosure at both Burghley and Badminton.
As defending Olympic champions Team Germany look strong, with Jung joined by the 2012 golden girls Ingrid Klimke and Sandra Auffarth, along with Andreas Ostholt. However they didn’t have things all their own way in Aachen where many Olympic contenders were giving their horses a run and the resurgent Australians sprang a major surprise by overwhelming their hosts.
Australia, Germany and the USA have all won the Olympic Eventing team title four times, and Christopher Burton, Sam Griffiths, Shane Rose and Stuart Tinney look set to fly that Australian flag high once again.
The closest their neighbours from New Zealand have come to the top of the podium is the bronze they claimed in London four years ago, and they certainly shouldn’t be under-estimated this time around either as three of that side are in action again, including the charismatic Sir Mark Todd who took back-to-back individual gold with the great Charisma in Los Angeles (USA) in 1984 and Seoul (KOR) in 1988. Only one other rider in Olympic history has ever achieved that distinction, Dutchman Charles Pahud de Mortanges with Macroix in Amsterdam (NED) in 1928 and Los Angeles (USA) IN 1932. However Michael Jung could possibly join that elite if he and Sam reign supreme once more.
Todd will be a busy man in Rio, because not only will he be chasing down medals for himself, but the 60-year-old athlete will also be taking a significant interest in the performance of the Brazilian team he has been training for the last few years.
Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden and USA will also be in the race for the team title along with a Russian side fielding just three riders, and of course the British whose squad includes London 2012 team silver medallist William Fox-Pitt, as well as Pippa Funnell who took individual bronze in Athens (GRE) in 2004.
All three of the individual medallists from London will be in Rio, Germany’s Jung and Auffarth who claimed gold and bronze and Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt who separated them when taking silver.
In all, 29 of the 75 Eventing athletes are female and if one of them succeeds in winning individual gold she will be the first-ever female athlete to do so.
Jung, however, is unlikely to make it easy for anyone to spoil his seemingly unstoppable run.
Here’s an insight into what the Burghley Young Event Horse (BYEH) qualifier consists of written by Carolyn Richards live from Barbury International Event.
Having not seen a young event horse competition before Barbury International, it was a fascinating watch. From 45 starters three were to qualify for the Young Event Horse Championships to be held at Burghley Horse Trials in September of this year.
Each horse is judged and scored in a number of ways. It begins with a dressage test (Section I). Watching this phase was interesting, as five year olds, they are all at varied levels of maturity. This was demonstrated: some horses enjoyed the atmosphere displaying ears forward and interest managing to overcoming potential distractions or new experiences. Some however, called throughout the test, spooked at the boards and struggled to hold their shape despite the effectiveness and professionalism of the rider. These tests were judged by the renowned racing trainer, Henrietta Knight. The maximum marks possible for the dressage is 30.
Once finishing their dressage they move straight onto showjumping (Section II) where they can gain a maximum of 40 marks. Again experience, ability and maturity was all demonstrated over fences. The majority of the young horses encountered difficulties in the combination fences. From observing this type of class it was clear to see the varying incremental steps for young horses and the communication between horse and rider: steering, agility, suppleness, rhythm, tempo, impulsion and concentration.
The confirmation (Section III) is judged in split categories: confirmation with a maximum of 12 and quality a maximum of 8. The final part (Section IV) only requires the top ten horses to be judged on ‘Suitability and Potential’ for a maximum of 10 marks, which takes the total marks up to a maximum of 100.
The winner: Candiland owned by Miss Ellie And ridden by Millie Dummas
The winning horse certainly shone from the dressage onwards, Candiland owned by Miss Ellie And ridden by Millie Dummas. The free moving, attractive gelding by Casal is dark brown with a kind eye, white star with noticeable white socks. However, it wasn’t quite that clear cut...
It was very close come the end as both Helen Wilson with Castle Richmond William and Millie Dumas with Candieland had the same score of 81 until the final section. See final results HERE
Barbury International not only holds the Young Event horse qualifier it also has a Novice, 2* and 3* competition. The event venue is perfect as the viewing is spectacular being able to watch the dressage and see nearly a dozen xc fences all from the same place! The spectators have a real treat being able to see nearly all the xc course from one spot as the course weaves across a field on the hill. The Novice course includes a wide variety of fences: trakaner, steps, bounce and water (which had a lovely blue dye in - watch your white breeches!)
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A down-hearted Izzy Taylor has had to pull out of the British Eventing team after her horse Allercombe Ellie sustained a slight injury in training that will prevent the combination from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
As first reserve, triple Olympic medalist Pippa Funnell and Billy The Biz will now compete, while Tina Cook with Billy The Red have been called up as travelling reserve.
Izzy said: “I’m really gutted and sorry for the owners and my support team. I wish Pip and all the team the best of luck out in Rio.”
This is the third time in as many years that Izzy and owners Frances Carter and Susan Holroyd have suffered disappointment with Ellie, as she was also selected for the 2014 World Equestrian Games and the 2015 Blair European Championships, but was pulled out both times because of injuries.
Equestrian Team Leader Dan Hughes said: "We are extremely disappointed for Izzy and her whole support team, including the horse's owners Susan and Frances. Whilst Rio was going to be Izzy's first Olympics, as one of the most talented British riders in the world, I am confident that it will not be her last opportunity to represent Great Britain on the world stage. In Pippa Funnell we have an extremely strong replacement, and we are confident this team has every chance of achieving medal success in Rio.
Pippa said: "Firstly I’m absolutely devastated for Izzy, I know how much work it takes for everyone involved to get the horse to this level. From a personal point of view, I just feel so very privileged and honoured to be part of the team and I’m just delighted for all my connections who have helped me to get to this stage.
"It’s our first home-bred horse to be going to a Games, and whilst that’s so special for us all, it’s so tragic that Carol isn’t with us to share this moment as I know she would have been so very proud. We’ll be going there to give it our absolute all."
William Fox-Pitt, Kitty King and Gemma Tattersall complete the team for Rio.
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The International Horse Trials at beautiful Barbury was this year an important pre cursor to the Olympics.
Here are some of our pics taken last weekend of riders named as representing their nation at Rio.
Gemma Tattersall (GBR). CHILLIS GEM, CIC**
Alex Hua Tian (CHN). DON GENIRO, CIC***
Sir Mark Todd (NZL). LEONIDAS II, CIC***
William Fox-Pitt (GBR). LITTLE FIRE, CIC**
Sam Griffiths (AUS). HAPPY TIMES, CIC***
Vittoria Panizzon (ITA). ONE NIGHT LOVE, CIC**
Izzy Taylor (GBR). OBOS COOLEY, CIC**
Jonty Evans (IRL) COOLEY RORKES DRIFT, CIC**
Marcio Jorge (BRA). LISSY MAC WAYER, CIC***
Pippa Funnell (GBR). BILLY WALK ON, CIC**
Kitty King (GBR). VENDREDI BAITS, CIC**
Jonelle Price (NZL). CLASSIC MOET, CIC***
Padraig McCarthy (IRL). FIVEBERRY, CIC**
More photos from Barbury - *VIDEO* - Trot On quick-pics
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20 yr old British eventer, Alyssa Yallop is on her way to achieving a place in the Miss World 2016 beauty competition. She has reached the semi-final stage of the Miss England beauty pageant with the purpose of hopefully raising her profile to help her future eventing career.
Contestants are encouraged to promote themselves and the competition, and to raise money for the Miss Wold charity, Beauty with a Purpose. Formerly known as Miss World Scholarship, it is an event established in 2001 that is celebrated during the activities prior to the Miss World pageant. It awards the contestant with the most relevant and important charity project in her nation.
“A main aim [of Miss England] is to raise as much money as possible for the charity, which helps children across the world. If you win, you pick which country and how it should be spent.
“So instead of doing a 10km run or something, I thought I’d combine it with the riding and try to do something a bit more exciting.” said Alyssa.
“I represent my country in eventing so I thought I’d do something with an equestrian theme. I’ve organised a charity pony show at my home on June 5.”
“One More Step, who my sister Lauren competed at four-star level, is 19 now and, unfortunately, I had to retire him after Chatsworth (14 May),” she said. “He left a leg and I fell in the water. His mind’s good but his muscles aren’t as quick as before.
“So I’m looking for new owners. I’ve got some babies and I’m still hoping to compete at the top, but it’s so expensive – I do everything I can to fund it.”
Currently, Alyssa works part-time for a property company in London and is also a personal trainer and a model to fund her eventing.
Sunday 5th June 2016
Dixons Farm, Lambourn Woodlands, Hungerford, Berks, RG177SE
OPEN TO ALL CHILDREN 14 AND UNDER
REFRESHMENTS – FIRST AID
Entries close on Friday 3d June But we will take entries on the day
Entries to: Alyssa Yallop
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