The U.S., seventh after the first day of eventing dressage, moved up to a tie (137.5 penalties) for sixth with New Zealand today after the conclusion of the first phase at the Deodoro complex.
All is not lost, with a tough cross-country test slated for tomorrow, in which the riders must be as clever as French course designer Pierre Michelet. Expect a lot of glance-offs on tricky corners if they don’t deal properly with his signature style of distances.
So things could change, but perhaps more among the top four than below that. Germany leads the way as expected on 122 penalties, with 122.2 for second-place France (I told you to watch them in my Rio preview). Australia is third at 126.4, followed by Britain (127.7), whose William Fox Pitt held his first-day edge on Chilli Morning in the individual standings.
Nice to see Ireland in fifth (135.6), as eventing is the only discipline in which that country has a team this time around. (You remember all the controversy over them not qualifying a squad for the show jumping).
A lot was expected of the U.S. team, being coached for the first time at the Olympics by 2000 Olympic individual gold medalist David O’Connor. But it wound up with pathfinder Boyd Martin on Blackfoot Mystery being the discard score (47.7) in 35th place out of 65 starters. Lauren Kieffer stands 33d on 47.3 penalties after a slightly tense Veronica bobbled in the flying change sequence and was marked with 4’s for the collected canter.
Temperatures were in the low 90s, with uncovered grandstands that looked to me to be 70 percent empty (and I’m being generous here.) Beach volleyball, I noticed, wasn’t a sell-out either. The dressage arena still has plenty of atmosphere, which has affected some of the horses.
Lots of breaks in the trot, some jigging in the walk and distracted flying changes. Hey, even defending champ Michael Jung of Germany on Sam had a flying change problem yesterday that moved him down today to fifth place (40.9). His teammate, Ingrid Klimke on Hale-Bob OLD slotted in ahead of him in fourth (39.5).
A lovely ride from France’s Mathieu Lemoine on Bart L earned two 8’s and a 7.5 for his final flying change and he wound up third with 39.2. Do you think the French know how to ride Pierre’s cross-country courses? I’ll bet they do.
U.S. anchor rider Phillip Dutton on Mighty Nice was doing mighty nicely, getting 7’s for his extended and medium walk, and then had a scrambled flying change. That put him at 43.6, good enough for 15th place to become the top American. Clark Montgomery, who had that honor yesterday, moved down to 24th with his score of 46.6 from yesterday.