Equestrianism: Great Britain trying to turn silver into gold
Great Britain’s eventing team remained in contention for the gold medal after the cross-country section at Greenwich Park.
The decision that the cross-country element of competition had to be held at a purpose-built venue, rather than making use of the excellent courses already available elsewhere in the country is another item that can be factored in once the accountants work out the final bill for London 2012.
But there was no denying that the 28-fence cross-country course, devised by British designer Sue Benson, provided a stiff challenge for the world's best riders over six kilometres of testing, twisting terrain.
Hawley Bennett-Awad, the Canadian rider, required medical attention after falling at fence three, Belgium’s Carl Bouckaert fell at the same fence, while Japan's Takayuki Yumira also parted company with his mount Latina as seven of the first 27 competitors fell as the course appeared to be very slippery in places but it did not prevent Great Britain from strengthening the chances of the team gold medal.
Nicola Wilson and Mary King both put in good rounds as Great Britain put the pressure on both Germany and Australia, who were ahead of them after the dressage stage.
Wilson, riding Opposition Buzz, are regarded among the world's leading cross-country pairings, and the world and European team gold medallists delivered a brilliant round, finishing almost 12 seconds inside the time allowed of 10minutes 3seconds.
That meant Wilson remained on her dressage score of 51.70 penalties. “'He was just unreal, what a fantastic horse,” she said. “This is his favourite stage by far. When he gets to go cross-country day it's like all his birthdays and Christmases have come at once.”
King, utilising all her experience, kept concentration and completed the course with just 1.2 time penalties, taking her overall score to 42.10 and into the lead ahead of Burton.
The third British team member, Zara Phillips riding High Kingdom, also went clear inside the time and Kristina Cook (riding Miner Frolic) completed a fine day for Great Britain.
She will go into the show jumping phase in fifth place on 42.00, one place ahead of King and 3.70 behind Ingrid Klimke of Germany (Butts Abraxxas) and Sara Algotsson Ostholt of Sweden (Wega) who are currently tied in first 39.30.
Mark Todd, of New Zealand (Campino), is third on 39.50 with Germany’s Michael Jung (Sam) on 40.60 in fourth.
Of the rest of the British team, Phillips is 10th and William Fox-Pitt (Lionheart) 22nd.
Great Britain currently lie in the silver medal position in the team competition, 5.50 behind Germany.
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