After a formal training day yesterday in the main stadium, day one of jumping competition got underway with the first Individual Qualifier.
Today definitely has the most spectators so far, but as you can see it’s still pretty sparse but hopefully that will change with each day of competition.
Yann Candele & First Choice 15
Yann Candele was the trailblazer for Canada with First Choice 15. This is Yann’s second Olympics as he was the travelling reserve for London 2012.
First Choice 15 looked very fresh, soaring over the very large fences and giving them lots of room. Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned at the final line, which proved to be the bogey fence for many of the world’s top horse/rider combinations.
Yann did an amazing job getting through this line, both encouraging First Choice while at the same time getting out of his way, and only incurred 4 faults.
Tiffany Foster & Tripple X III
This is also Tiffany’s second Olympics, but she is definitely looking for a much different experience after London 2012 where her horse Victor was disqualified even before competition got started because of a small knick on his coronet caused a positive hypersensitivity test.
It’s also a second Olympics for Tripple X III, who was part of the gold medal winning British team at London 2012 with then-partner Ben Maher.
Tiffany and Tripple X III really made the course look smooth and easy. They soared effortlessly over the jumps, and nailed all the distances. They even looked stylish through that troublesome last line, and had the second element down. It really seemed like a cheap rail because it had nothing to do with the height, or the approach. It just looked like he slightly clipped the rail with his hind hoof on the descent. But no mater how you get a rail down, it’s still 4 faults. Here’s hoping that it’s enough to qualifying them for the second round because they truly looked amazingly powerful and poised out there.
Amy Millar & Heros
It’s no secret that there are very high expectations on Amy’s shoulders given her Dad’s legendary status not only in Canada, but in the world of showjumping. But anyone who has seen Amy ride knows that she is uber-talented in her own right, and her partnership with Heros has seen some amazing results this year.
They entered the main stadium looking like cool cucumbers, and that didn’t change as they worked their way through the course conquering the fences one by one.
There was one heart-stopping moment mid-way when Heros touched a rail on the way down with his hind legs, much like Tripple X III had done earlier, but thankfully it just rattled a bit in the cups but didn’t come down.
As happy as Amy was about her brilliant round, her dad was even happier! What a way to start off your Olympic debut. And even more impressive that Hero is one of the youngest and least experienced horses in the international field. Way to go Amy and Heros!
Eric Lamaze & Fine Lady 5
This is Eric’s third Olympic appearance, after winning individual gold in 2008 with Hickstead, and I think what’s fair to say a disappointing London 2012 experience. In 2012, Eric had the relatively inexperienced Derly Chin de Muze. For Rio, he has the very experienced Fine Lady 5 and I think it’s fair to say it will be a very different experience for him. The pair certainly looked very in harmony with one another, and Eric put in a very masterful ride to go clear.
So that’s 2 clear and 2 4 faults for Canada after Day 1. Given the difficulty of the course, and the casualties it claimed to some very top level horses & riders, this bodes very well for the days to come!
Likely more difficult than riding an Olympic course yourself is to watch your friend, mentor and teammate ride one!
Lots of Misses and Spills
The course set by Brazil’s Guilherme Jorge was big – bigger than the opening class in London 2012. And it took it’s toll on several big names.
Included in that list was Belgian Nicola Philippaerts on Ziverstar T. They had 2 refusals at the second element of that trick last line (with the musical notes). I was taken aback at how rough Nicola treated his horse, and Horse & Hound are reporting that the Ground Jury have subsequently disqualified him for excessive use of spurs.
Jur Vrieling of the Netherlands also ran afoul of the Ground Jury for using his whip excessively after having two refusals (at different fences). But unlike Nicola (who is competing as an individual only), Jur can continue riding as part of his team in the next round.
I’m not sure I understand the logic in that. How can you eliminate one rider for being abusive to his horse, but not the other? That’s a question the FEI should be made to answer.
Note…since originally writing the above, the FEI has just issued this statement:
Stephan Ellenbruch, President of the Rio 2016 Equestrian Olympic Ground Jury, said: “We can confirm that Jur Vrieling has been disqualified from today’s individual Jumping competition.The FEI’s rules are very specific -if any blood is found on the flank of a horse, the Athlete/Horse combination is automatically disqualified from the competition.The veterinarians on site have examined the horse, Zirocco Blue, and will continue to monitor to ensure he is fit to compete on Tuesday, 16 August for the Jumping Team Round 1 qualifier event”.*Please see FEI rule below:Article 242.3.1 of the FEI Jumping Rules: Horses bleeding on the flank(s), in the mouth or nose or marks indicating excessive use of spurs or of the whip anywhere on the Horse (in minor cases of blood in the mouth, such as where a Horse appears to have bitten its tongue or lip, Officials may authorize the rinsing or wiping of the mouth and allow the Athlete to continue; any further evidence of blood in the mouth will result in Disqualification.)*Please see statements below from the Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation:Rob Ehrens, Royal Dutch Equestrian Federation national coach: “I’ve been a professional rider for 27 years and I know the feeling when everything goes wrong. But this should not happen and will not happen again. While Jur and Zirocco Blue are chasing medals, this has to be handled professionally. We will use tomorrow to relax Zirocco Blue.”Jur Vrieling: “I was encouraging him, saying ‘come on boy, don’t do this again’. I should not have given him these extra pushes. It is stupid, this happened in the heat of the moment, and it will not happen again.”
Biggest Upset of the Day
France’s Penelope LePrevost is one of the top riders in the world, and heavily favourited for an individual medal. Those hopes fell apart when Flora de Mariposa stumbled on the landing of a huge jumping effort. This pitched Penelope forward, and she never had a chance to recover. The strangest things can happen at an Olympics that would never happen anywhere else, and unfortunately the consequences can be devastating.
It’s tough to pick out some non-Canadian favourites when there are so many absolutely stunningly talented horses here in Rio. But there are a couple who I loved prior to Rio, and love even more after seeing them go around the course.
Brazil’s Quabri de L’Isle (Pedro Veniss). I first saw this horse at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and immediately had to look him up to see who he was. Aside from being gorgeous to look at even when standing, which is beautiful flaxen mane and tail, he can also jump the moon. This picture definitely doesn’t do him justice.
Japan’s Imothep (Taizo Sugitani). This horse used to be ridden by Ireland’s Darragh Kenny and is another one who I couldn’t take my eyes off of when first seeing him at Spruce Meadows. And he still looks stunning with his new rider Taizo Sugitani. Unfortunately it wasn’t their day today as they picked up 16 faults….but I still love him.
I just love this shot of Germany’s Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum and Fibonacci. It’s a testament to the depth of talent (both rider power and horsepower) that Meredith was called up at the very last minute in Rio to replace Marcus Ehning whose horse incurred a minor injury after taking a stumble in yesterday’s training session. Talk about scope! This is the water jump.
Studying the course…
Lots of Canadian fans out!
View from the media area
Let’s hear it for the ring crew! I wouldn’t fancy putting together this jigsaw fence in a hurry.
Jumping Team Round 1 & 2nd Individual Qualifier
Jumping takes a day off tomorrow to make way for the Dressage Grand Prix Freestyle, then is back on August 16th.
I’m really liking the compressed schedule, but it does make for non-stop days without much of a breather!
How does it work?
The top 60 from the 1st Individual Qualifier move forward to the 2nd Individual Qualifier. And the scores from today don’t move forward to the 2nd Individual Round. It does make for a very arduous competition since those that make it to the end are jumping up to 5 rounds (or 6 if there’s a jump-off). At these heights, that seems crazy to me and I don’t understand why they can’t better combine the Individual and Team rounds. Can you imagine asking Eventers to run another cross-country for individual medals??
As things progress, a number of individual competitors are dropped each day. All Team riders can continue to jump so long as their Team is still qualified to jump. And ALL Teams (and their members) jump in Team Round 1.