All three of Team GB’s riders pulled off clear rounds inside the time around Derek di Grazia’s track and the trio sit 17.9 penalties ahead of second-placed Australia.
“I think the performance was second to none from all the British parties,” said Oliver. “The course was pretty much as we expected – hard work from the word go.
“It was fairly disorientating for horses, they didn’t quite know when they’d finished. When I slowed Ballaghmor Class before the drop at fence 16 he thought he was done and again galloping past the tents to fence 18 he started slowing up. He wasn’t physically tired, but mentally it’s tiring and confusing going up and down the same track again and again.
“Exceptional top-class horses can cope with these different elements and all three British horses have coped fantastically today.
“I thought the course was a beautiful, beautiful job from Derek di Grazia, I’m his biggest fan. He’s such a fair course-designer. I think a lot of people could learn a lot from him. Even when he tests horses, the tests are very fair and there for people to jump. He doesn’t try to trick horses or riders, just tests them to full advantage.”
Meanwhile Laura Collett moved up from sixth after dressage to the individual bronze on the Olympic eventing cross-country results with her clear inside the time on Karen Bartlett, Keith Scott’s and her own London 52.
“I’ve always said he’s a superstar. I’m just so relieved I did my job,” said Laura after her round. “Everyone at home will know we had to fight for our place here. He’s just proved to everybody he well and truly deserved it and I can’t tell you how proud I am.”
“He wants to jump every fence,” he said after his round. “I’m just pleased I’ve given him the ride he deserved after messing up a couple of things yesterday.”
“I’m super proud of my horse – I always thought she’s a real lion, she’s always fighting,” she said. “From the day I had her, she felt special to me, though it took a couple of years to convince the rest of the people.”
As well as Michael’s 11 penalties, the German team also had to add 22.4 penalties for Sandra Auffarth when she and Viamant Du Matz had a run-out at the corner out of fence 9abc. The German team have dropped to sixth, having been second after dressage.
The Australian team have moved up to second from sixth after dressage, after fault-free rounds for Andrew Hoy (Vassily De Lassos, now seventh individually) and Shane Rose (Virgil, now ninth individually) and just a couple of time-faults for Kevin McNab (Don Quidam).
The French trio – Christopher Six (Totem De Brecey), Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold) and Karim Florent Laghouag (Triton Fontaine) – added just two penalties between them to rise from ninth after dressage to team bronze.
New Zealand has dropped from third after dressage to fourth. Pathfinder Jonelle Price (Grovine De Reve) and anchorman Tim Price (Vitali) added just a few time-faults each, but Jesse Campbell’s ride Diachello tired on course and he did well to bring him home with 14.4 time-faults.
“The ride was exactly how I planned it up to about five minutes,” said Jesse. “We all knew that we’d be down on time, but that we could then have some galloping stretches. I nearly got back onto my five-minute mark. And then the heat just hit my horse and we literally went from full tank to not much. And with the three on the team, it’s really important that you finish, so I just had to nurse him as best I could to get home and keep the jumping as good as I could.”
In general, horses coped well with the humidity and heat – it was a very sunny day and the temperature was touching 33ºC by the time the competition finished – though some, such as Jesse’s, did tire on course.
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