Well this cross country day sure had its highs and lows. Highs for the Brits, Germans, Swedes and Kiwis. Low after low after unbelievable low for Canada, most of which I saw, thanks to the brilliant TV coverage all over the venue and media centre. Let me get the bad news out of the way first, and the most urgent of that is regarding Hawley Bennett-Awad. Hawley and Ginny fell at the third fence, an A-B complex of verticals that did cause another fall immediately after hers and a couple of refusals. I have not had an eyewitness report, but I do believe Ginny fell and I know Hawley was taken to hospital, but the unofficial word is that it is not serious. I’ve been told the COC is issuing a statement, but since I have been unsuccessful in getting on their distribution list I’ll have to wait for someone to forward it to me…
Now I need to back up a bit. Before Hawley went, Michelle Mueller and Amistad had a bit of a cheap moment at the second of the two hedges in the stadium. I saw the run out because I spent a goodly part of the day watching from up high in the south grand stand, from which I could see a couple of fences, as well as the Tower of London jumps in the stadium – oh and an unbelievable vista over London and the Thames. I could also see the running score board and a jumbotron showing constant footage of the whole course. It was just a steering blip for Michelle and even though it was a costly one, she galloped around the rest of the course in fine, but slow, form.
After Hawley, Peter Barry was next. I saw his involuntary separation from Kilrodan Abbott, which took place at number 9, a one-two-three complex with a ditch. Peter got to the last obstacle on something a bit worse than a half stride, and in his valiant effort to get over the boxy fence, Kilrodan Abbott unseated his pilot.
A bright spot in the day was Jessie Phoenix’s brilliant go on Exponential. What a keen, happy galloping jumping horse he is! He and Jessie looked every bit a partnership out there. There were quite a few holds on course today due to a disturbing frequency of falls (15, which is a fifth of the field), and Jessie was held on course at least two thirds of the way along. Exponential seemed to have enjoyed his little rest during the pause, and he finished the course looking like he’d be happy to be shown the start again. Jessie is currently sitting 28th, which is quite a jump up the board from 50th after dressage – and she stands to gain another few places tomorrow if she has a good show jumping round. Thank you Jessie and Exponential for being the bright spark in our day.
Ok, back to the doom train. Rebecca and Rupert were last on course for Canada, and they made it only to 14 before today’s Canadian jinx struck again. 14 was an a-b complex set right on the Zero Longitude line, a downhill ramp to a skinny little sun dial. Rupert came off the first part ok, but there seemed to be a bit of uncertainty about whether Rebecca was going for three or four strides (I did see only one rider do it in three, but I saw a few do it in five). He did jump but it was messy, and Rebecca went earthward over his shoulder.
I don’t believe either Rebecca or Peter, or their horses, are any the worse for wear, other than the weight of disappointment that is certainly settling on their shoulders right now. I’d like to see a bright side to this, but I’m finding it hard, even if I squint. I knew Canada has not had the very best of springs for a kick-ass team, but things definitely went worse here than anyone could possibly have expected. I’ll feel better when I’ve heard that Hawley is ok, and I do hope for two clear Maple Leaf show jumping rounds tomorrow.
The good news belongs to some other nations tonight. If you haven’t paid attention to the results, here is a link to the absolutely flawless online results, which are being updated at a speed never before witnessed by this particular journalist. Tomorrow is going to be a truly edge-of-our-seats day, with nothing more than a rail separating the Germans from a medal colour other than gold. They do stand to suffer more than a rail unless Ingrid has taught Abraxxas that show jumps are for clearing, not clearing off. Below them it’s even tighter. Less than a single knockdown separates the Brits, Swedes and Kiwis in second to fourth places. It was an indifferent day for the Americans, who are fifth but have really no chance to do better with a 22 penalty gap between them and the medal scrum.
To lighten the mood a little, let’s play a little game of connect the eventers. Ok, here goes:
Chris Bartle, a British Olympian, is the eventing coach of the German team. One of the German team members is Dirk Schrade whose yard is where third placed Mark Todd found his horse Campino. Linda Algotsson, the Swede who is tied for first with Ingrid, is on a home grown horse – La Fair – that her mother bred, but her personal trainer is not home grown: her German husband Frank Ostholt is also her coach, a regular member of the German team. At the 2010 WEG, Frank rode Mr. Medicott, the horse with which Karen O’Connor had a brilliant day today. Mr. Medicott is of course not the only foreigner on the US team, since both Phillip Dutton and Boyd Martin are actually Australian. And of course the US team chef is as British as they come, even though he is currently making his own international connections with an American girlfriend. And our Canadian coach, who probably isn’t going to have the sweetest of dreams tonight, is the husband of Karen O’Connor.
I am sure I could weave many more threads into this international quilt, but I really need to get some rest. The final jog is at the uncivilized hour of 8:15 tomorrow. I’m super bummed for Canada, but that won’t keep me from enjoying the top sport that will culminate in two sets of medals tomorrow.