If you had asked me before the Olympics which team would be in the lead after day 2 of Show Jumping, I would have probably hoped for the U.S. and guessed Germany. Saudi Arabia was not on my radar screen, but they are, quite deservedly, in first place with excellent rides by all four riders.
While eventing horses were all fit and fast, equine greyhounds, the show jumpers are massive, muscled and on springs. When they trot into the ring the amount of suspension is amazing. They are just so powerful. Watching them jump is inspiring. These fences are big — 1.6 meters (5.24 feet) with a maximum spread of 2.2 meters (7.21 feet) over the triple. The water jump is 4.5 meters (14.76 feet)!
About half the horses went clean during the first qualifying round. Perhaps the most
noticeable exception was Beezie Madden, who had two stops on her mare, Coral Reef Via Volo, coming into the combination. Watching the round you can see that she got close into the jump and while the mare (who is an amazing jumper and relatively tiny in size at just 15.2 hands) cleared the first fence she stalled in the air and landed coming toward the standard of the second jump. Beezie represented and this time the mare stopped.
The rest of the US team had no fences down. Reed Kessler had one time fault but what a great round she had for her first Olympics!
Day 2 didn’t go so well for team USA. Maclain Ward picked up 4 faults on the water jump with Antares, coming in maybe a bit fast and flat; Madden had a better round but still had 4 faults; and Kessler brought down two fences. Only Rich Fellers and Flexible went double clear.
Sadly, Canadian horse Victor, ridden by Tiffany Foster, was disqualified by competition veterinarians for hypersensitivity in the left front leg. He apparently had a small cut so this was not considered suspicious and he was not tested for any foreign substance. Read more about it on Fran Jurga’s Hoof Blog.
There are still more rounds to go so medals are still in contention. However, only 12 riders remain double clear: Britain’s Ben Maher and Nick Skelton, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdullah al Saud, Australia’s Edwina Tops-Alexander, Mexico’s Alberto Michan, Brazil’s Alvaro Affonso de Miranda Neto, Dutch riders Maikel van der Vleuten and Marc Houtzager, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and Rolf-Goran Bengtsson, Switzerland’s Paul Estermann and America’s Rich Fellers.