August 11, 2008

New Zealand has all but dropped out of contention for team three-day-eventing honours at the Olymics at Hong Kong, with the Kiwis now in sixth position going into tomorrow's showjumping.

First-time Olympian Joe Meyer is now the best Kiwi hope for an individual medal - but he is some way off the pace. After his appeal against a jump fault was upheld Meyer, riding Snip, is in 19th place on 65.10 penalties, beating Caroline Powell and her Irish-bred sport horse Lenamore into 26th place and putting paid to her being able to try for individual honours.


Hinrich Romeike and Marius lead the field going into the showjumping. © Kit Houghton/FEI
Meyer came into the cross country with the team's best dressage score - 43.90 - and got off to a confident start in his cross-country round, but ran into trouble at water when he did not get a good line to the second element of the jump. Meyer circled and re-presented and was faulted for the circle, to finish with 20 jump penalties and 21.20 time penalties. But he lodged a protest against the jump penalties as he believed he did not do anything wrong and was allowed to circle. The 20 penalties were removed. "I couldn't be happier with my horse - he went fantastic. I put the hammer down with him and he responded," said a thrilled Meyer.

Powell was very happy with Lenamore's cross-country performance, incurring just 21.20 time penalties. "I am now looking forward to tomorrow's show jumping phase as we both love to jump," she said.

The leader, Germany's Hinrich Romeike and the grey hosteiner gelding Marius, are on 50.20 penalties, and fellow countryman Ingrid Klimke on the hanoverian Abraxxas is close behind with 50.70. Romeike is a dentist by profession, and one of the few top-level eventers in the world who are not full-time riders.

In third place is Australia's Megan Rose and Irish Jester with 51 penalties, just pipping her more favoured teammate Clayton Fredericks and Ben Along Time on 53.40.

No riders managed to make the time allowed of eight minutes, but Australia's Shane Rose (9.2 penalties) and Britain's William Fox-Pitt (10) went closest. New Zealand's Andrew Nicholson was putting in a cracker round and appeared to be gunning to make the time, but by the latter stages of the course the effort was telling on a visibly tired Lord Killinghurst, and they crashed out at The Pagoda jump when only one jump from the finish line.

Mark Todd and Gandalf, out of contention for an individual medal, went out aiming for a good team performance. They put in a classy clear round, but were more than a minute outside the time allowed. They ended with 27.20 penalties and are in 28th position individually.


The Pagodas obstacle, where Andrew Nicholson took a tumble and Heelan Tompkins and Sugoi had their second stop.
Heelan Tompkin's Sugoi perhaps showed his lack of high-level experience, looking strong at times and putting in two stops - one at the pagoda which claimed Nicholson. Their 130.80 penalties put them in 56th position from 60 riders left in the competition.

Germany leads the team rankings with 158.10 penalties by less than a jump rail from Australia, on 162.00 penalties. Britain is third with 173.70, with Italy fourth on 198.40, and Sweden on 200.50. New Zealand is sixth, with 230.90, and the USA also had a bad day on the cross-country, to end with 234.00 penalties.

Tomorrow, all riders will contest a show jumping round, and the top 25 will do a second round to decide the final individual placings.

• Just four hours after the completion of the cross-country, the eventing horses were transferred back to the stables at Sha Tin, 25km away. The first convoy consisted of 60 horses, with eight staying for some rehydration. They followed in a second convoy. All the horses travelled well and were back to their stables within an hour after leaving Beas River.

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