Storming cross-country performances by Britain’s event riders have pulled them up into silver medal position overnight at the London Olympic Games.
The team has an aggregate score of 130.2, while Germany still leads on 124.7. The Swedes are only a fraction behind in third on 131.4 — and the Kiwis have moved up into fourth on 133.4.
All five British riders jumped clear round a track that caused many more problems than anticipated. Nicola Wilson (Opposition Buzz), Tina Cook (Miners Frolic) and Zara Phillips (High Kingdom) all made the time, while Mary King collected less than two time-faults on the big, strong Imperial Cavalier.
Only William Fox-Pitt had a slightly disappointing day, judged by his very high standards, picking up 9.2 time-penalties on a tiring Lionheart.
“He just hit the wall — I’ve never had to kick him before,” said William.
Tina Cook is the best placed Brit in fifth, and Mary is 0.1pen behind her in sixth on scores of 42 and 42.1. Zara is equal 10th, Nicola Wilson 20th and William Fox-Pitt is 21st.
Germany’s Ingrid Klimke (Butts Abraxxas) and Sweden’s Sara Algotsson Ostholt (Wega) share the lead on their dressage score of 39.3.
“I am very surprised to get the time,” said an elated Sara. “We were half a minute down at fence six, but made it up later. I’ve been working very hard on her fitness with this event in mind since February.”
Wega — like High Kingdom — lost both front shoes round the tight and twisty track. Lots of horses slipped on the bends, including Australia’s Happy Times, who decanted Sam Griffiths.
Mark Todd stays in third for New Zealand — his one second over the time kept him off the top spot on Campino.
And Germany’s Michael Jung and Sam, the current world and European champions, have vaulted up the leaderboard from 11th to fourth, staying on their dressage score of 40.6.
The 21-year-old British-based Swedish rider Ludvig Svennerstal is in seventh behind the British ladies, while German Sandra Auffarth is eighth.
Andrew Nicholson found the time easy to get on Nereo for ninth, up from 24th after dressage.
And Australia’s Christopher Burton shares 10th place with Zara Phillips. Both riders could lay claim to the rounds of the day.
So just seven marks — less than two fences — separate the top 10. Tomorrow’s showjumping will be a nail-biting affair.
Don’t miss H&H’s full report of the Olympic eventing, in the issue on sale FRIDAY 3 August – 23-page special report, with comments from Ruth Edge, Pippa Funnell and Mark Phillips, pictures of every cross-country fence, stunning photos and full analysis.