What an unbelievable night!!! After 40 years, Canada has brought home another Olympic medal in team showjumping. I don’t think I’ve seen such exciting horse action since I nearly bit my nails to the quick watching Ashley Holzer make history by getting into the dressage freestyle finals.
It was yet another visually stunning course which challenged the top horses and riders. Belgium’s Cumano and Los Jansik looked superb on course and left all the rails up but incurred 2 time faults. USA’s McLain Ward and Sapphire also left all the jumps up, but it was the water that proved to be their nemesis. Germany just couldn’t seem to pull it together with faults for all of their riders and some drama to boot when Marco Kutscher’s Cornet Obolensky had a rearing refusal at the jump following the water.
It was Canada’s Jill Henselwood who had to prove to the others that the course was jumpable with no faults as she rode Special Ed around the course. It was a little stressful as there was at least 1 rail that was jostled, but it stayed up.
So here I was, furiously doing my calculations as each rider from each nation went around the course. And when it came down to the final round where each anchor rider was to take their turn, Canada was in the lead!!! Stress levels were skyrocketing by then. When Ian Millar came into the ring, I was almost feeling sick to my stomach. I can’t even imagine the pressure Ian must have been under….he had to go clean if Canada was to have a shot at a gold medal. I’m glad there wasn’t a camera on me because I can only imagine what I must have looked like as In Style came up to each jump. And when they crossed the finish line with a big fat 0 on the jumbotron…..wow! Me and Dr. Jenn were screaming ourselves hoarse!
We sure gave the USA a battle for gold. And even while being down a horse (unfortunately Mac Cone and Ole had to withdraw before the class as Ole just wasn’t quite right and everybody wanted to ensure that Ole’s welfare was put first and foremost). It was close, but no cigar and the USA ended up being crowned the champions with 3 straight clears in a row.
Before I upload my millions of pictures from tonight, I want to salute Ian, Jill, Mac and Eric, their fearless chef d’equipe Torchy Millar, their superb team vet Sylvie Suprenant, their hardworking grooms Jerome, Dominique, Samantha and Kirsten, the always organized team stable manager Lori Green and the owner of these fine horses who provide incredible support to the riders and the sport. And last but not least, a special mention to reserve rider Jonathan Asselin, his groom Sergio Jacobo Martinez and the owners of Rayana Chia. It’s tough to travel all the way to Hong Kong with no guarantee that you’re going to ride, but having the reserve is so crucial in order to ensure that a full team can compete. Rayana left the other day to go back home with the Eventing horses. Jonathan stayed on and continues to be a full member of the team – attending training sessions and being there for every competition. Now that’s what I call true team spirit.
I sign off by saying what an honour and a privilege it has been for me to watch these teams in action during my first Olympic Games. Eventing achieved their best international placings since the 1970’s, Dressage made history by having a rider make it through to the top 15 for the individual finals, and the Jumpers have won their first team medal in 40 years. I don’t think even sleep will be able to wipe the smile off my face.