The U.S. riders had mixed fortunes on the cross country at the Olympic Games with anchorman Phillip Dutton and Jim and Arden Wildasin's Mystery Whisper returning the best result of the team adding just 2.8 time penalties to his overnight score to finish the day on 47.1 in 12th place. The team is currently in 5th place on 155.2 which will mean a long uphill climb to get back in medal contention tomorrow since the Germans held onto the lead and go into the show jumping on 124.70 followed by Great Britain on 130.2 and Sweden with 131.4.
This was a most thrilling day’s sport in Greenwich Park with a crowd fit to burst and perfect weather setting the scene for Sue Benson’s course to take on the world’s best eventers. And set a challenge it did with the testing terrain and slippery footing that caught out several horses although somewhat surprisingly eleven of them made the optimum time of 10 minutes 3 seconds.
Boyd Martin set the early pace with Otis Barbotiere as the first to test the timers and returned with just 3.6 time penalties to finish on 54.3 in 26th place. It was as expected a polished performance taking all the direct routes and no doubt Boyd will be disappointed he didn’t beat the clock.
Despite giving Mr Medicott a terrific ride Karen O’Connor was disappointed that she accrued 5.6 time penalties because she felt those penalties could have meant the difference between a team medal or not. She wasted no time at the London Tower fence in the arena and took out a stride on the bending line. “I had seen Chris Burton do it and my horse is bigger than his so I knew I could,” said Karen who finished on 53.8 in 24th place.
The arena provided an opportunity for riders to make up a bit of time, and with the large and vocal crowds packed around the course this was also a welcome break for the horses to have some space. Some riders commented on how loud the crowd was, especially when the British riders were on course.
Tiana Coudray was next to go for the U.S. team and it looked as if she and Ringwood Magister had their confidence shaken after a run out at the second element of the Bandstand Rails at 3b. In fact it wasn’t until she got to the arena and was able to let the big gray run on that they seemed to regain their rhythm and jumped the rest of the course well. They returned to the barn with 77.6 penalties in 30th place probably annoyed at the costly mistake but richer for the experience for completing a course that gave nothing away.
Just over halfway through the twice interrupted schedule due to accidents, Will Coleman set off on Jim Wildasin's Twizzel looking every bit an Olympian as determined as anyone to get the job done but it was to be fence 20 the Royal Greenwich Borough bank that stopped them in their tracks when Twizzel had second thoughts on negotiating the steep drop at the first attempt. “It had all gone right up to the step jump where my horse seemed to defy gravity,” said Will who was disappointed and felt that if he could ride it again he would go at it more. “The horse got tired but still galloped to the end,” he added.
There can hardly have been a more exciting day’s cross country with 59 of the 74 starters completing the course. The current standings are so close that it will be down to the top four making mistakes to leave the door open for the Americans to return some clear rounds in the stadium tomorrow for a change of fortunes.
Germany's Ingrid Klimke with Butts Abraxxas and Sweden's Sara Algotsson Ostholt with Wega are in a tie for the top of the leaderboard while New Zealand's Mark Todd is only .2 penalties behind on a 39.5 for third position.
The 2012 Olympic Eventing competition concludes tomorrow with show jumping beginning at Greenwich park at 10:30 BST (5:30 EST).