LUCINDA Fredericks and Headley Britannia will start the Olympic cross-country tomorrow in the gold medal position.
Their first-phase score of 30.4 was not bettered by any of the 25 horses who performed under floodlights and during high humidity at the final early morning dressage session at Sha Tin in Hong Kong.
Ingrid Klimke and Abraxxas came closest to toppling Lucinda when they scored 33.5 which has left them in third place. They only relinquished marks in the medium trot when Abraxxas spooked at a camera.
“He’s always interested in the surroundings,” said Ingrid. “The atmosphere was quite electric in there.”
Mary King and Call Again Cavalier, second last to go, became the best of the British contingent when they broke the 40 barrier and slotted into ninth place. Mary’s score of 38.1, together with Sharon Hunt and Tankers Town’s mark of 43.5, has elevated the British team into fourth place, behind Australia, Germany and the US. In the individual standings just 8.9 penalties separates the leader from 10th placed Gina Miles.
Before the competition started the British squad was informed of the death of 23-year-old Emma Jonathan while contesting the CCI** at Hartpury.
“We were all devastated to hear the news,” said Mary.
But basically sprits have been high in the British camp. Sharon Hunt commented on the camaraderie among Britain’s squad members. “William and Mary have both been really helpful and have walked the course with me and told me here to shaved the time off.”
The dressage phase apparently did not appeal to Hong Kong locals. One is quoted as saying in the Sunday Morning Post that her family was “deeply bored” by the experience of spectating and that she didn’t believe equestrianism “is an appealing sport visually”.
This afternoon Hong Kong time the horses will be transported to the cross-country venue Beas River, where they will be stabled overnight in readiness for tomorrow’s 8am start.
Stay in touch with all the Olympic news as it happens on HorseandHound.co.uk and don’t miss H&H’s full report from the Olympic eventing in Hong Kong — on sale Friday 15 August.