Equestrian Cross Country round-up
With Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, London Eye and the Millennium Dome providing an inspiring backdrop of London, Greenwich Park played host to the evening Cross Country Equestrian Event on day three of the London 2012 Olympics.
The course was designed by Sue Benson, featuring themes such as a Saxon village, planets, a band stand, horse chestnuts, the game of cricket, a barrow of fruit and vegetables and many more; this was not however, a course just to be admired for its looks.
Two water jumps (one themed around Wind in the Willows) and a hedge corner added to the high standard of ability demanded from the competitors.
With Great Britain in Bronze position after the Dressage event, the GB Team gave an outstanding performance of horsemanship on the Cross Country course. Nicola Wilson on Opposition Buzz was the first GB to face the jumps, with Mary King on Imperial Cavalier, Zara Phillips on High Kingdom, Tina Cook on Miner’s Frolic, and lastly, William Fox-Pitt on Lionheart, all following suit.
The Queen’s granddaughter Zara in particular had the British among the 50,000 plus spectator crowd cheering. Supported also by Princes William and Harry, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princesses Beatrice and Eugene, Zara rode at the fences with combined confidence and skill, finishing the course with no added penalties.
Zara will enter the Jumping final today (Tuesday 31st July) with 46.10 points – joint tenth place.
Currently, Ingrid Klimke of Germany and Sara Algotsson Ostholt from Sweden are in joint first position for the individual Eventing, whilst comeback Champion Mark Todd is just 0.2 penalties behind the front-runners. Retiring after the Sydney Olympics, Todd made a comeback at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, and is continuously proving himself four years on.
World Number One, William Fox-Pitt, was unable to maintain his usual standard after his horse, Lionheart, tired too early. He finished the day with 53.30 points, in 22nd place.
However, as a team, Great Britain managed to move from Bronze to Silver – only 6 penalties behind the Germans who are currently in Gold position, justly deserved for the home side. The predominantly British audience provided an electric atmosphere to Greenwich Park, the weather was glorious, and with everyone on the best British behaviour, the event was a joyous success.
Jennifer Atkinson at the London Olympics