German riders hold the first two places after day one of the eventing dressage at the London Olympics. They are the only two competitors to score below 40 so far.
Ingrid Klimke and Butts Abraxxas, with 39.3, just have the edge on Dirk Schrade and King Artus, who scored 39.8.
“I had fun, and ‘Braxxi’ did too,” said Ingrid.
And Mary King gave British hopes a big boost by securing third place with 40.9 on Imperial Cavalier.
Mary was first to go after the lunch break, and produced a lovely, expressive test on the Cavalier Royale 15-year-old. The horse has sometimes found big crowds exciting, notably at the 2010 World Equestrian Games, but he kept his cool admirably at Greenwich. The test was virtually mistake-free until the final flying change, where fours from all three judges just lost them the lead.
An emotional Mary said afterwards: “Although the crowds were really behind me, they were also very well-behaved. They know ‘Archie’ is a horse with tremendous enthusiasm and energy. He was tense and we made a couple of errors, but I was really pleased with most of his work. Compared to WEG, I was chuffed to bits!”
Andrew Hoy rode 10-year-old Rutherglen into fourth position for Australia, scoring 41.7 with an excellent test just marred by collapsing somewhat into the final halt.
Twenty-one-year-old Ludwig Svennerstal was impressive at his first Olympics on Shamwari, another 10-year-old, and took fifth for Sweden with 43.7.
And Jock Paget scored 44.1 on Clifton Promise for New Zealand, giving him sixth place.
Sam Griffiths and Happy Times are seventh on 45.4, while his Australian team-mate Christopher Burton is half a mark behind with HP Leilani.
Karen O’Connor is best of the US team in ninth on the former Frank Ostholt ride Mr Medicott (48.2), and Belgium’s Virginie Caulier is 10th with 48.3 on Nepal Du Sudre.
Britain’s Nicola Wilson is equal 16th on Opposition Buzz with a score of 51.7.
“He produced the best test he could have done today. It was mistake-free and I’m very proud of him,” said Nicola.
The Germans therefore lead the team competition — but, with five riders on each team, only those teams drawn in the early part of the order have had three riders to go. Only two British riders have ridden their tests, while Germany, Australia, Belgium, USA, France and Canada have had three.
If you take the two best scores from the 11 nations each to have had more than one rider do their tests, Germany would still lead, Australia would be second and the British team third.
The dressage starts again at 10am tomorrow (Sunday 29 July). Zara Phillips is third to go for Britain at 10.16am, followed by Tina Cook at 12.54pm and finally William Fox-Pitt at 4.12pm.
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.