On form Dutch keep a clean sheet

THE team from The Netherlands boasts the advantage of being the only nation to have two clear rounds in the clubhouse at the conclusion of this morning’s session of team Jumping in Caen’s d’Ornano Stadium. 

On form Dutch keep a clean sheet
© PSV Photos

The riders in orange lay in fifth after yesterday’s speed contest but they have jumped their way into an unofficial pole position at this early stage of two days of team jumping thanks to world number 12 Maikel van der Vleuten notching up one of their two clear rounds. His mount, VDL Groep Verdi TN NOP, gave the upright at the first part of the double (12a) a serious rub that had the grey and orange pole swinging dangerously in its cups but it dutifully remained in place.

The Netherlands’ first duo into the arena, Jeroen Dubbeldam and Zenith SFN (above), continued their good form from yesterday when they had notched up a clear round by doing the same again today.

Germany’s two riders have recorded a clear and a four-fault round. Christian Ahlmann, the first in for yesterdays’s fourth-placed team, heard the oohs of the crowd when Codex One dislodged a rail on 12b.

Marcus Ehning, though, kept hopes high in his nation’s camp with a stunning clear aboard his super-talented grey stallion Cornado NRW.

France has notched up two four-fault rounds. With the home nation initially leading the team competition after a stunning performance in yesterday’s individual speed class from which scores are carried forward, there were groans in the stands when their first rider, Simon Delestre and Qlassic Bois Margot, took out a pole on the red oxer at number 8.

“My horse jumped to the side and made a little mistake with his hind legs. My round was not really bad but having one down is always painful,” explained Delestre. “Apart from that we kept our usual rhythm.

“The course is very well built and the time is tight. You have to ride each fence very carefully since they are all very light.”

France’s leading lady Penelope Leprevost was a victim of the bogey orange oxer, sited on a one-stride distance from an upright at 12a, which in turn was four strides on from the imposing yellow and green Rolex oxer at 11. Flora De Mariposa simply failed to open up enough over the 1,65m wide obstacle and took out the back rail.

The US is well poised with a clear and a four-fault performance on the scoreboard.

McLain Ward commenced the proceedings in the d’Ornano Stadium at 9.10am local time, recording a clear for the his team, although the oohs from the crowd signalled a pole that bounced in its cups on fence 10, Le Coq oxer, but obediently bounced back again.

Next in for the US, Kent Farrington made the 83sec optimum only by the skin of his teeth but the slightest of rubs on the front rail of the orange oxer at 12b brought it down.

Canada’s Yan Candele and Showgirl crossed the finish line with nothing to add, but this nation’s second rider, Tiffany Foster with Verdi III, collected an unwanted eight faults.

Ireland still in the hunt

There have been just 10 clear rounds this morning from 76 horses — and none of these came from yesterday’s on form Irish squad. 

Yesterday’s individual winner Bertram Allen recorded four faults with his grey mare Molly Malone, another victim of the back rail at 12b.

His teammate Darragh Kenny experienced an unfortunate rub of the front rail of the oxer into the treble (4a) aboard his bay stallion Imothep.

Peder Fredericson, who had helped his Swedish squadmates to occupy second place on the team leaderboard after a stunning round yesterday with H&M Sibon, saw his challenge unravel today when he took out a disastrous three rails, including fences 2 and 3, for 12 faults.

His teammate, Alexander Zettermann and Cafino, fared better and they recorded a four-fault round, frustratingly taking out the first fence.

Pieter Devos for the fancied Belgians ended up on the floor at the last fence when Dream Of India Greenfield stopped. Their round had already been expensive with a foot in the water and the back rail of the bogey oxer down at 12b.

His teammate Olivier Philippaerts and Cabrio Van De Heffinck were only slightly less despondent when they exited with 12 on their scorecard, the last two parts of the treble having fallen, while a brick had been dislodged from the wall (7).

Michael Whitaker and Viking, first in for the 10th placed British and clear yesterday, made three costly mistakes, which began at the oxer at 3 and ended at the Rolex oxer at 11 and also included a brick out of the wall at 7.

“I’m frustrated because I thought I rode well, but my horse was distracted by the atmosphere. He was spooky and tense, so I had faults,” said Whitaker. “I have no particular advice for the rest of the team — just that they should ride clear.”

But despite Whitaker’s wise words, Team GB’s bad fortunate continued with Joe Clee’s disastrous 12-fault round, in which the first two parts of the treble fell and Utamaro d’Ecaussines tipped a brick out of the wall. After two rounds it looks likely that the reigning Olympic and European Champions will be excluded from tomorrow’s team contest.   

Frederic Cottier’s 12-fence course became progressively more difficult as horses progressed around it, the final line at 11 and 12a/b really taking its toll. Generally, however, as yesterday, this great designer’s track has been lauded by riders and commentators alike, and faults have been pretty well spread around the track.

Thirty-three teams take part in today’s Jumping contest but only 10 of these will go forward to tomorrow’s medal decider. The pressure is really on, not only for a podium placing, but everyone is desperately seeking a ticket to the Rio Olympics with only the top five qualifying here.

Approximately 50 riders will go forward to tomorrow’s action, with around 100 not having made the cut and having to watch from the sidelines.

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