Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Aug. 16, 2016 – The United States Show Jumping Team came out strong on the second day of competition at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. During the second qualifying event, the athletes laid down three clear rounds in front of the packed crowd, advancing to the Team Final in a four-way tie for the lead on a score of zero faults.
Kent Farrington and Amalaya Investments’ Voyeur, Lucy Davis on Old Oak Farm’s Barron and McLain Ward with Double H Farm and Francois Mathy’s HH Azur all laid down faultless rounds, easily advancing to the Team Final with no faults on the board.
Farrington and Voyeur were the first U.S. pair to go, and he was able to match his clear effort from Sunday, joining 11 athletes with individual scores of zero as the individual final also approaches. The pair was 27th in the order, giving them an opportunity to watch the rest of the field.
Many riders had difficulty with the open water line, as well as the technical triple combination and the final line in an effort to gallop home under the tight time allowed.
“The time allowed is quite short, which I think is going to be a factor,” said Farrington. “Typically, the first riders are the faster riders of the team that are pretty experienced. As it goes on you are going to see the time being more of a factor. Time faults, or rails down because of people worrying about the time. Obviously, I am thrilled with my horse though and it’s a great start for Team USA.”
The U.S. success continued as 23-year-old Davis entered the arena with Barron, a horse many say is one of the best in the world. Barron and Davis proved their skill today, crossing the finish line with all the rails intact while staying well under the time allowed. They also continue to be on the hunt for an individual medal with only 4 faults total in the competition.
“After yesterday’s rail, I hoped that would set me up well for today and it definitely did,” noted Davis. “He was incredibly sharp and with me. I was maybe a little more tense than usual. I really wanted this for the team. I think tomorrow I will be a bit more relaxed seeing how well he handled this day and how confident everyone on the team is.
Davis added, “I sometimes get a little too deep or too flat to these tall verticals. There are a lot of tall verticals here, so I was really trying to stay patient. In the end, I was concerned a bit about the time, even though my horse is fast and I really shouldn’t. In being a little cautious to those verticals on course I thought maybe I had to go to the last line and probably should have done one more to that wall and got away with it. He always towards the end gets a little more fighting, a little more up, so having the last jump yesterday was a good reminder for me to keep my body back and stay with him until the end.”
Olympic veteran McLain Ward took his turn next with the 10-year-old Belgian mare HH Azur, who came out ready to fight for a clear round. The pair cleared all of the obstacles with plenty of room to spare. With three clear rounds in the books, the U.S. Team stamped their ticket for Wednesday’s Team Final, and Ward also continues his hunt for a spot in the Individual Final on 4 faults.
“I’ve left her a little fresh because it’s a long week and not knowing with the heat, and she’s jumping incredible, but she is fresh,” expressed Ward. “I think she’s going to settle a little bit everyday. I thought she was jumping lights out today and also the first day. I rode a little less anxious than I did the first day. She performed great. My feeling is that she is going to get better everyday.”
Ward continued, “It’s just keeping her settled and calm. There is a great atmosphere in the arena, the crowd is great and I just have to not let it excite her too much.”
Four teams, the United States, The Netherlands, Germany and Brazil, have all advanced to the Team Final on scores of zero, and the French are not far behind with just 1 fault. Ward expects to see a much different course on Wednesday to begin separating the top athletes.
“I thought the course was quite delicate,” he said. “I think they expected the triple [combination] to ride a little more difficult, but the stronger horse/rider combinations certainly have handled it pretty easily. I think the course was good. I think you are going to need more size tomorrow to separate these top teams.”
Beezie Madden was the last to go with Abigail Wexner’s Cortes ‘C’, but with the team already qualified she was only competing for an individual score. Unfortunately, luck was not on the pair’s side and they had a rail at the third oxer as well as a toe in the water, incurring 8 faults. Combined with their 4 faults from Sunday, the duo will not advance in the individual qualifier, but will return for Wednesday’s Team Final.
“It was a short 7 [strides] up the first line and maybe I was a little casual about the back rail and then he clipped that,” explained Madden. “The water has been riding difficult all day and we just didn’t quite get across. I think he actually finished better than he started in the course, so hopefully tomorrow we’re in good shape.”
Madden concluded, “For sure, it was less important for the team, but for me individually it was still important. I think I was a lot more relaxed going into it for sure. Maybe too relaxed. In hindsight I maybe should have left a stride out up the first line, but either way it shouldn’t have been too complicated.”
The Team Final will get underway at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. The U.S. Show Jumping Team finished in a four-way tie for the lead, and will have a good draw for the event that will determine team medals. Live results can be found at https://www.rio2016.com/en, or follow the USET Foundation on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/USETFoundation.