Riding Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan’s 14-year-old Ballaghmor Class, Oliver made no errors to score an impressive 23.6, which gives them a commanding lead at this early stage of the competition.
“I’m very happy with my horse – we know he’s special and I’m just very grateful for him to do a clear round in there and a very safe test on my own terms,” Oliver explained after his test. “I’d want a little bit more but I think 23 is a very good starting mark for the team. The highlight was the whole thing, but he went in and he did his best in conditions that he’s not used to in a stadium that’s very, very special – you think because there’s no crowd that there would be no atmosphere, and enough of a special occasion to push horses into lacking concentration.”
Olympic eventing dressage: Oliver Townend scores nines
The grey, by Courage II, was second into the arena in the Olympic eventing dressage and there were a number of highlights throughout their test. The highest marks award were for the halt in the middle of the test and collected canter, for which they received nines from the judges.
They only scored two 6.5s – the lowest marks during their test – the remaining marks varied between sevens and nines.
“The pressure bit doesn’t bother me,” Oliver said of his job of being the first of the British team to compete. “Obviously it wouldn’t be my chosen job in life to be pathfinder, but at the same time, the first bit is out of the way and my horse has done a very commendable job, so fingers crossed, we just keep the work up through the next three or four days, and hopefully see where we end up.”
The next two riders for Britain – Laura Collett, riding London 52, and Tom McEwen, riding Toledo De Kerser, will enter the dressage arena at 5.54pm local time on Friday (9.54am British time) and 9.22am local time on Saturday (1.22am British time) respectively.
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