British showjumpers get underway at Greenwich

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Britain’s showjumpers have made a positive start to their quest for an Olympic medal.

Both Nick Skelton (Big Star) and Ben Maher (Tripple X) jumped clear in the first qualifying round for the individual final, which also helps determine the draw for Sunday and Monday’s team competition.

“Big Star was fresh,” said Nick. “The crowd wound him up a bit — the roar was unbelievable.”

Tripple X, however, seemed to thrive on the cheering and stamping of the enthusiastic crowd.

He felt great — it didn’t faze him at all,” said Ben. “And I know I can have him a lot better than that — we will need petrol in the tank for the bigger jumps later on.”

Scott Brash, who just tipped one pole on Hello Sanctos for four faults, said: “The track was technical, twisty, and had everything in it, but wasn’t massive, which was ideal to help everyone get going.”

Britain’s fourth team member, Peter Charles, had 10 faults — two fences down in the early part of the course and two time-faults — on Vindicat, who goggled, wide-eyed, at the packed stands as he entered the arena at Greenwich.

“Disastrous start, ended up fine,” said Peter. “Now I’ve got to use all my experience to work around it.”

There were 33 clears within the time today, and a further eight riders just collected one time-fault. Sixty-three riders will progress to the next round of the individual/team competition tomorrow — although Peter Charles will jump as part of the British team, he is now out of the individual competition.

Other surprise eliminations at this stage include Germany’s Christian Ahlmann, whose 15pen on Codex One included stopping at the final fence, and American legend Beezie Madden, individual bronze medallist four years ago in Hong Kong, who had two refusals on the 15.2hh Via Volo.

Both of Ireland’s jumpers are through to the next round. Cian O’Connor was clear on Blue Loyd 12, while Billy Twomey had four faults on Tinka’s Serenade.

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First H&H reports on the Olympic dressage and showjumping team contests in the magazine out FRIDAY, 10 August