Rio By the Numbers: Which Teams Will Win Medals?

Top left and bottom right: Libby Law Photography. Top right: Shannon Brinkman. Bottom left: Jenni Autry.

Top left and bottom right: Libby Law Photography. Top right: Shannon Brinkman. Bottom left: Jenni Autry.

Handicapping individuals is difficult enough, but the team dynamic including a dropped score makes predicting the outcome of the 2016 Olympic Games exponentially more difficult.

To give you a good view of the numerical possibilities of each team, I’ve provided information on the Best Score a team could possibly attain, and an Average Score that represents a typical performance from each competitor in each phase. For an overall review of every competitor, Jenni has provided us with an Ultimate Guide to Eventing that include detailed information for all pairs, both team and individuals.

The team’s Best Score is calculated first using a horse and rider’s personal best score in each individual phase to calculate a best possible finishing score for each combination. The personal best score for a phase represents what we know the pair can physically accomplish and theoretically is at the limits of their ability.

While it’s certainly possible that we will see horses put forth new personal bests this weekend, it’s much more common for these athletes to perform somewhere on the spectrum from their known best to their known lowest score.

By summing the personal bests for each phase (and not simply using their best recorded finishing score), we can theoretically determine the lowest finishing score a pair could attain. Because eventing essentially consists of three different equestrian disciplines, each performance is discrete and generally does not affect the next performance, barring fatigue in the final show jumping phase.

Therefore, it’s best to assume that a horse and rider could equal their best on each day of competition, even if they have never strung three personal bests together in one show.

Once the personal best final scores for each rider are determined, the team’s Best Score is determined by summing the three lowest scores of the four team members.

Similarly, the team Average Scores are calculated in the same manner, determining an average for each phase and summing them for each rider, then dropping the worst score of the four.

Only scores from the Olympic qualifying period beginning on January 1, 2015 onwards were used for these predictions, to ascertain current form rather than past performance.

ESTABLISHED WORLD-BEATERS

Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Germany copy GERMANY Germany copy

Team: Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo, Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam, Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob, Julia Krajewski and Samourai du Thot

GER2

Members: If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Germany is the heavy favorite to win team gold. If you haven’t been paying attention, I’ll help you out: Germany is the heavy favorite to win team gold. The depth in their country right now is beyond belief, and the reality is that they’ll likely win by a large margin unless something goes drastically wrong.

Their team reads like a Who’s Who of eventing. Sandra Auffarth and Opgun Louvo won individual Olympic bronze in London and individual WEG gold in Normandy. Michael Jung and La Biosthetique Sam were the 2010 individual gold winners at WEG in Kentucky and the 2012 Olympic individual champions along with multiple four-star wins.

Ingrid Klimke and Horseware Hale Bob haven’t finished worse than fifth at a competition since 2014 including a win at 2014 Pau and a second at 2015 Badminton. Julia Krajewski and Samourai du Thot, Germany’s rising stars, haven’t had a rail or a dressage score over 40 all year, picking up a third at Luhmühlen in their first four-star.

Competing for: Gold

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo at Aachen 2015. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo at Aachen 2015. Photo by Jenni Autry.

New Zealand copy NEW ZEALAND New Zealand copy

Members: Clarke Johnstone and Balmoral Sensation, Tim Price and Ringwood Sky Boy, Jonelle Price and Faerie Dianimo, Mark Todd and Leonidas II

NZL2

Analysis: The only team with a hope and a prayer of catching Germany is the New Zealand team, who would probably need Germany to lose one of their top three scores to compete for the gold. The New Zealand team lacks the eye-catching individual hardware of the Germans, but every single pair on this team has multiple top-five finishes at the four-star level. All of the horses are 13 or younger, meaning that New Zealand will have some serious horseflesh to contend through the next Olympic cycle.

Competing for: Silver

Astier Nicolas and Piaf De B'Neville at Pau in 2015. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Astier Nicolas and Piaf De B’Neville at Pau in 2015. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

France copy FRANCE France copy

Members: Karim Florent Laghouag and Entebbe de Hus, Mathieu Lemoine and Bart L, Astier Nicolas and Piaf De B’Neville, and Thibaut Valette and Qing du Briot

FRA

Analysis: France has kept its talented team from the European Championships almost completely intact, adding only Astier Nicolas and Piaf De B’Neville after an impressive win at both Pau last fall and Chatsworth this spring. Two pairs have top five four-star finishes, and the other two have multiple strong finishes at the CCI3* level.

France has the smallest difference between their personal best and average team scores, which means they are the team who most consistently performs closest to their best in every phase, every time. They’ll be a strong contender for a podium finish here in Rio, and with every horse on the team 13 or younger, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with for at least the next four years.

Competing for: Silver

SERIOUS CONTENDERS

Shane Rose and CP Qualified at Adelaide in 2015. Photo by Stephen Mowbray Photography.

Shane Rose and CP Qualified at Adelaide in 2015. Photo by Stephen Mowbray Photography.

 Australia AUSTRALIA Australia

Members: Chris Burton and Santano II, Sam Griffiths and Paulank Brockagh, Shane Rose and CP Qualified, and Stuart Tinney and Pluto Mio

AUS

Analysis: Australia has one of the two largest upsides between their averages and their personal bests amongst the top tier of teams. Three of the four horses are quite experienced, with multiple four-star completions under their best, including an Adelaide winner (CP Qualified) and Badminton winner (Paulank Brockagh).

This team has both the oldest and one of the youngest horses in the competition. Pluto Mio, 18 years young, is an incredibly experienced four-star horse who started consistently scoring at or below forty this spring, while Santano II just stepped up to the three-star level this spring at 9 years old and earned himself a spot on the team with a win over the Pierre Michelet-designed Saumur CCI3* course.

Competing for: Podium finish

Kitty King and Ceylor LAN at Chatsworth this May. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Kitty King and Ceylor LAN at Chatsworth this May. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

United Kingdom(Great Britain) copy GREAT BRITAIN United Kingdom(Great Britain) copy

Members: Willam Fox-Pitt and Chilli Morning, Pippa Funnell and Billy the Biz, Kitty King and Ceylor L A N, and Gemma Tattersall and Quicklook V

GBR

Analysis: Great Britain has long been a contender on the world stage and this year is no exception. Great Britain, along with Australia, have one of the biggest upsides of the top tier of team contenders but may fall victim to inexperience. As the only four-star pair on the list, the experienced Chilli Morning and William Fox-Pitt anchor the team of young up-and-coming three-star horses. With the cross country being described as a proper four-star course, this team will have their work cut out for them.

Competing for: Podium finish

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen. Photo by Jenni Autry.

United States of America(USA) copy UNITED STATES United States of America(USA) copy

Members: Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice, Lauren Kieffer and Veronica, Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, and Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen

USA

Analysis: Experience will be on the USA’s side this weekend, with four experienced four-star horses ready to tackle Pierre’s four-star course. This team has the second smallest delta between their personal best scores and their averages, meaning as individuals they more regularly perform close to their bests than all other teams except France. Clark and Loughan Glen’s performance is key for the team, who will need a final score in the 30s for the team to be competitive for a medal.

Competing for: Podium finish

PROMISING POTENTIAL

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master at Luhmuhlen in June. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master at Luhmühlen in June. Photo by Libby Law Photography.

Canada CANADA Canada

Members: Rebecca Howard and Riddle Master, Colleen Loach and Qorry Blue d’Argouges, Jessica Phoenix and A Little Romance, and Kathryn Robinson and Let It Bee

CAN

Analysis: Canada is an interesting mix of youth and experience, with the precocious Qorry Blue d’Argouges moving up to the three-star level just this spring to the experienced Riddle Master who represented Canada at both the 2010 WEG and the London Olympic Games.

A Little Romance is a jumping bean who hasn’t yet really had a fair chance to complete a four-star while Let It Bee provides an experienced but steady presence for the cross country phase. They’ll need a bit of help from the other teams in order to become a contender this weekend, but a tough cross country gives them a chance.

Competing for: Top 10 finish

Clare Abbott and Euro Prince at the 2014 World Equestrian Games. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Clare Abbott and Euro Prince at the 2014 World Equestrian Games. Photo by Jenni Autry.

 Ireland copy IRELAND Ireland copy

Members: Clare Abbott and Euro Prince, Jonty Evans and Cooley Rorkes Drift, Mark Kyle and Jemilla, Padraig McCarthy and Simon Porloe

IRE

Analysis: Ireland is a team that could either benefit or suffer from a tough cross country course. Although fairly strong across the board, the dressage scores of this team will likely keep them out of the top unless other teams struggle on cross country day.

On the other hand, only Clare Abbott and Euro Prince have four-star experience together. Cooley Rorkes Drift and Jemilla are both three-star horses with experienced riders, while Padraig McCarthy has yet to attempt a four-star, although his mount is plenty experienced under Padraig’s wife Lucy McCarthy (née Wiesgersma).

Competing for: Top 10 finish

Arianna Schivo and Quefira De L'Ormeau. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Arianna Schivo and Quefira De L’Ormeau. Photo by Samantha Clark.

Italy copy ITALY Italy copy

Members: Stefano Brecciaroli and Apollo VD Wendi Kurt Hoeve, Luca Roman and Castlewoods Jake, Pietro Roman and Barraduff, Arianna Schivo and Quefira De L’Ormeau

ITA

Analysis: Stefano and Apollo VD Wendi Kurt Hoeve are the only experienced four-star pair on this team, but the other three pairs have extensive mileage at the three-star level and should be prepared to handle Pierre Michelet’s course this week. Collectively, their dressage is not quite strong enough to compete for a medal, but Stefano could be in the individual hunt.

Competing for: Top 10 finish

Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Reality 39 at Aachen in 2015. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Reality 39 at Aachen in 2015. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Sweden copy SWEDEN Sweden copy

Members: Linda Algotsson and Fairnet, Sara Algostsson-Ostholt and Reality 39, Frida Andersen and Herta, and Ludwig Svennerstal and Aspe

SWE2

Analysis: With not one established four-star horse on the team, Sweden is fighting an uphill battle in Rio. Reality 39 is the most experienced of the lot and the only one who could realistically contend for an individual medal, although the other three should be able to provide solid but non-competitive finishes.

Competing for: Top 10 finish

DETERMINED UNDERDOGS

Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too at Rolex 2014. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too at Rolex 2014. Photo by Kasey Mueller.

Brazil BRAZIL Brazil

Members: Marcio Appel and Iberon Jmen, Marcio Carvalho Jorge and Lissy Mac Wayer, Ruy Fonseca and Tom Bombadill Too, and Carlos Parro and Summon Up the Blood

BRA

Analysis: Host country Brazil will have a lot of support behind them, which may help them rise to the occasion. Despite an incredibly experienced horse (Tom Bombadill Too) and a horse who could be near the top on the flat (Lissy Mac Wayer), this team struggles with time penalties across the country. A top-10 finish for this team would be a very respectable accomplishment for them.

Competing for: A solid completion

Tim Lips and Bayro at Luhmuhlen 2015. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Tim Lips and Bayro at Luhmühlen 2015. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Netherlands copy THE NETHERLANDS Netherlands copy

Members: Merel Blom and Rumour Has It, Tim Lips and Bayro, Alice Naber-Lozeman and ACSI Peter Parker, and Theo Van de Vendel and Zindane

NED

Analysis: Merel Blom and Tim Lips will both likely provide solid finishes on their horses, while the other two can be counted on for clear cross country rounds. Unfortunately, between a horse who is tough on the flat and another who takes a bit of time across the country, it’s unlikely that the Netherlands will be in medal contention.

Competing for: Top 10 finish

Aleksandr Markov and Kurfurstin. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Aleksandr Markov and Kurfurstin. Photo by Jenni Autry.

Russian Federation copy RUSSIA Russian Federation copy

Members: Aleksandr Markov and Kurfurstin, Evgeniya Ovchinnikova and Orion, and Andrey Mitin and Gurza

RUS

Analysis: As the only three-member team in Rio, these riders will have no room for error. None of the horses or riders have ever attempted a four-star, and only Markov and Kurfurstin have competed outside of the Russian region. This is the first time any of these riders have represented Russia for eventing, and it is a major accomplishment just for them to be here.

Competing for: A solid completion

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