U.S. Olympic Eventing Team Sixth after Dressage at Rio Olympic Games

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After two days of eventing competition at the Olympic Equestrian Center at Deodoro, the U.S. Olympic Eventing Team sits in sixth place. Boyd Martin and Clark Montgomery put in solid performances among the 32 combinations that competed Saturday in day one of dressage before the ground jury of Marilyn Payne, Andrew Bennie, Sandy Phillips. Lauren Kieffer and Phillip Dutton brought the team home on Sunday.

The trailblazer for the U.S. team on day one was Boyd Martin, riding the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate LLC’s Blackfoot Mystery. Martin guided the gelding brilliantly in the electric atmosphere, scoring 47.70, and stating that he was proud of the gelding. “He’s still a bit inexperienced and he did get a little bit excited with the cheering, but he kept his cool and did a good job. I was thrilled there were no big mistakes. I couldn’t have asked for much more.” At the end of day one Martin stood in 17th place individually.

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First-time Olympian Clark Montgomery was the second ride for the U.S. team on Saturday, ending his dressage test with a score of 46.60 on Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft, and Jessica Montgomery’s Loughan Glen. The pair has a long history of strong dressage performances; unfortunately, though the test started out quite well, Montgomery was a bit disappointed.  “He started out really well and I don’t know what happened,” said Montgomery. “He really sucked behind my leg, where he constantly wanted to walk or stop, but I squeezed every point I could out of him. He was really good in the warm-up, but that’s the sport and that’s horses.” Montgomery has turned his focus to Monday’s cross-country phase, saying, “He’s a very good cross-country horse. He’s quite reliable, so that’s what we’re all hoping on. That’s how we made the team. We thought coming here that clean cross-country rounds were going to be a big part of the competition and that has definitely turned out to be true with what the course looks like.” Montgomery stood in 10th place individually after day one of dressage.

At the end of day one, Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt stood as the current individual leader on a score of 37.0 on his stallion Chilli Morning. Following right behind Fox-Pitt on a score of 37.60 was Christopher Burton with Santano II, riding for Australia, and Michael Jung from Germany held third place on Sam FBW with a 40.9. In the team standings, Germany, Australia, and Great Britain were at the top of the leaderboard, respectively. The U.S. sat seventh on a total of 94.30, with all countries very close at the top of the leaderboard.

Eventing competition continued on Sunday with the second day of dressage. The U.S. Olympic Eventing Team moved up from seventh place to tie with New Zealand for sixth place on a total of 137.50. Lauren Kieffer and Phillip Dutton gave strong performances for the U.S. in a hotly contested team competition. Germany currently leads the team standings on a total of 122, followed closely by France in second on 122.20, and Australia in third on 126.40.

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Leading off day two of dressage for the U.S. was Kieffer on Team Rebecca LLC’s Veronica. The pair performed a beautifully consistent test with expressive trot work, but received low marks for the final collected canter and salute, earning a 47.30. “She was really good,” expressed Kieffer of the mare. “Her trot work was really nice – probably some of her strongest trot work. The walk tends to be her more difficult gait and she was quite good through that. I was happy with the canter. I think she missed the one change, but she seemed to really get punished at the end so I am bit disappointed with our score for sure.” Looking forward to Monday’s cross-country, Kieffer said, “The cross-country is very strong and I have a feeling by the end of tomorrow, today won’t matter much. It’s certainly a very strong track, one of the strongest tracks I’ve ever done. The footing is great through. There are lot of options to get home if you are having trouble. If you want to go for the win, you are really going to have to take some risks and it’s going to be tough out there.”

Shannon Brinkman Photo

Anchoring the U.S. team was six-time Olympian Phillip Dutton with HND Group’s Mighty Nice. Giving a clutch performance, Dutton rode Mighty Nice to a personal best for the pair at the four-star level, a 43.60. They are now the highest-placed American combination in 15th. With the exception of a bobble in the final flying change, the test flowed nicely and impressed in the canter work. “Obviously, you can always be better,” said Dutton. “The last flying change wasn’t that great, but there’s a lot of atmosphere in there and I couldn’t be more proud of my horse. I was hoping to get close to 40. That’s close to as good as he can do right now.” Turning his focus to cross-country, Dutton said, “I think it’s going to be difficult. I am at an advantage to see how it’s riding [Dutton goes penultimate in the order], but it’s a pretty unique kind of course. I think time is going to play a part and it’s going to cause a fair bit of trouble. It will be interesting to see some team strategies. What they are going to do and how they are going to go. Because the time is going to be hard to get, there is pressure all the way around. It’s going to be a proper competition.”

The top of the individual leaderboard did not change much on day two with Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt maintaining the lead on a score of 37.0 on his horse Chilli Morning and Australia’s Christopher Burton and Santano II holding second on 37.60. Mathieu Lemoine and Bart L took over third individually on a score of 39.20 for France.


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