Holy smokes what a day it was today! Olympic Eventing cross country took centre stage, and it was really great to see lots of people out on course watching compared to the lacklustre audiences for the 2 dressage days.
As predicted by many, the course really shuffled up the leaderboard. While I’m by no means an Eventing expert, watching today reminded me of the types of courses you would see back in the 80’s and 90’s. Both horse and rider had to be very fit, very brave and very determined.
It was incredible to see many very seasoned riders and horses run into trouble. Who would have thought that the likes of Tim Price, Montgomery Clark and Karin Donckers wouldn’t finish.
Canada’s Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance were again the trailblazers. At the best of times it’s a very challenging position to be in, but at an Olympic Games over a course like this make it even more so. Jessica didn’t have the advantage to see how the course was riding in order to make adjustments to her plan. Instead, she went out there and attacked it with Don Leschied’s dynamo mare. Talk about true grit and fierce determination. It was obvious watching these two over the course that nothing was going to stop them for attacking and eating up this Rio course.
Although they did pick up 40 jump penalties and 35.60 time, they showed their teammates that the course was conquerable, and brought home valuable information to help Kathryn, Colleen and Rebecca refine their strategies.
Last minute adjustments before heading into the start box
True grit and determination…this is what sets the good eventers from the great
It was certainly a bummer for Kathryn Robinson and Let it Bee, who were eliminated on course. They looked great at the start, but it wasn’t meant to be their day today. Thankfully both of them are healthy and will fight another day.
Flying out of the start box
Bummer to be eliminated, but we can’t wait to see you again Kathryn!
Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argrouges looked like cross-country machines. Although they also incurred 40 jump penalties and 45.20 time, that really betrays how good they looked every time I could see them. And I loved how even at the end of the course, Qorry’s ears were pricked way forward almost as if he was saying “Ok, what else Mom?”
It was really hard to believe that this was the first 4* experience for this duo. The future is blindingly bright!
Jumping all stylish like a hunter!
Those ears though!
I can’t imagine the pressure that Rebecca Howard was feeling as she headed towards the start box, knowing that with Kathryn’s out of the game, she had to make sure that they completed the course in order to keep a team result for Canada. Even more so when her Olympic debut in London 2012 was cut short due to a fall on course.
That’s one of the biggest differences when riding at an Olympic Games…. it’s not just about your individual performance, it’s about making decisions in the best interest of the team.
If Rebecca was feeling pressure, she sure didn’t show it. Her and “Rupert” tackled the course like the pros they are. They added only 12.4 time penalties and jumped up to 15th position heading into the final day.
Heading out of the start box.
The look of pure concentration and focus.
On the way home!
I’d be celebrating too after successfully taking on the most difficult Olympic course in recent history!
The final day of Eventing Competition takes place tomorrow morning starting at 10am Rio time (9:00am EST).
Follow the live results at:
And watch the lifestream on Olympics.cbc.ca
Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures, but I had to give a shout out to 2 combinations.
- Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and The Duke of Cavan: If look up the word “relentless” and “determination”, you’ll see this guy’s picture. No was never an option for him going over this course. Even if the distance or angle was awkward, he just kicked on and let his horse do the rest. And his horse rose to the occasion every. single. time. It was quite something to see
- Chile’s Carlos Lobos Munoz and Ranco: If I had this horse during my Eventing days, things may have turned out a lot differently (ie. I wouldn’t have switched to Dressage). Not only does Ranco have the cutest face ever, but he looks like the most honest horse around who loves his job.
The Cooling Stations
I couldn’t end this blog without a pic of my Eventing hero – New Zealand’s Mark Todd. He truly gave a masterclass in riding over the course. The man’s leg never EVER changes position. Perfectly balanced at all times.