The team competition at the Olympic Games is like a normal Nations Cup which we compete in all season, except the two rounds are spread over two days which gives the horses a good rest between.
The first round was a difficult course mainly because of optical factors — the arena, the white screen, the giant Olympic flame which burns brightly 24 hours a day and of course the colourful fences.
When we all walked the course, it was obvious the early water would cause problems but on reflection, the problems were evenly spread. Ruby (Corlato) was really on it in the ring and concentrating on the top rails, she was focused and not at all distracted.
My round went exactly to plan and the distances rode as I walked, which is always satisfying with one exception. The final combination, three from home, was made of cream poles against the backdrop of the white sand arena and it was difficult for me to judge, let alone Ruby. Basically, she just jumped too high over the middle part and didn’t make the back bar.
It was a super round for me and still kept us in the medal hunt even without our anchorman.
Last night brought a completely different type of course; switch backs, twists, turns plus it walked much bigger than the previous night.
Our round started good enough but there was a big set of planks off not the nicest of turns and Ruby rather shot at it off the turn to have it down. The pressure was on and I knew I had to keep the round together for the sake of the team plus my own individual qualification.
She was jumping well and really listening — at the tricky double of verticals she came right back and responded well. We were about two seconds up on the time according to my marker so I knew that wasn’t going to be an issue but then the mare just began to tire a little and get heavy in my hand.
The final fence was a 1.63m upright and I didn’t have the feeling I was hoping for and she had it down. It was a better round than eight faults and so I was disappointed. Perhaps the goings on affected me more than I realised with extra pressure.
The three of us will have a rest day tomorrow (Tuesday) and prepare our minds for Thursday to rally round and plan for gold.
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