The team eventing at Rio ended with France (169 penalties) getting its second-ever Olympic gold medal in the sport (the first was 2004), as New Zealand dropped out of contention with, surprisingly, four rails from Sir Mark Todd.
Australia’s leading man, Chris Burton, had two rails with the 9-year-old Santano II as his team claimed the bronze (175.3) rather than gold as a result, while the usual flawless clear from Germany’s defending individual champ Michael Jung and Sam boosted that nation to silver (172.8) after consecutive team golds at the last two Olympics.
The tight 80-second time allowed on the course designed by the brilliant Guilherme Jorge of Brazil caused problems, as riders pressed their horses to make it and often slid rails in the process.
The top 25 are coming back this afternoon to jump for individual medals. Unlike the world championships, the Olympic criteria will not allow two medals to be given for one effort; hence the second jumping round for individual honors. Just what horses need after a grueling cross-country.
The U.S. did not finish a team after Clark Montgomery and Lauren Kieffer’s problems on yesterday’s cross-country, but Phillip Dutton had only 1 time penalty this morning on Mighty Nice and remains in contention for individual honors, standing fourth with 47.8 penalties, a mere 2.2–less than a rail–behind Chris Burton. Michael Jung leads the way to defend his 2012 title on 40.9 penalties, while Nicholas Astier of France is third with 45.6 after his clean round. Boyd Martin is coming back, too, with Blackfoot Mystery, but the ex-racehorse had two rails in the morning session which leaves him at 58.9 in seventh place.
Other team placings were New Zealand (178.8), fourth; Britain (252.10), fifth; Netherlands (252.6) sixth and Brazil (280.9) seventh with huge support from fans for their home country. Good on them for finishing ahead of such strong eventing countries as Ireland, Canada and the U.S. Only the U.S. and Russia failed to finish without three riders completing through cross-country. The Russians had just three riders to begin with, and one didn’t start cross-country.
I will keep you posted; check back later this afternoon and meanwhile, I’ll log a running commentary with my posts on twitter.com@nancyjaffer.