A test indeed, as problems did crop up for many other competitors — 28 of the 60 starters picked up jumping penalties throughout the day. The yellow MIM clip at the open corner at fence 14C — which is a new clip this year designed to break at a lower amount of pressure than its red counterparts and designed for use on corners and angled fences — was broken seven times, including for Michael Jung and Chipmunk FRH. Fence 18, the Bumps and Stumps coffin question, also caused its share of issues, with nine riders coming to grief here in the form of refusals or broken pins. This prompted many riders later in the day to opt for the longer option here, which didn’t seem to eat up a ton of time on the clock as some riders reported. In total, just seven riders came home clear inside the time. An additional two riders — Michael Jung and Italy’s Susanna Bordonne — also made the time but were given 11 penalties for frangible devices.
Julia Krajewski and Amande de b’Neville. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.
Though the team’s fortunes unravelled over the course of the day, with a surprise 20 for Sandra Auffarth and Viamant du Matz in addition to Michi’s 11 penalties, there’ll still be celebrations in the German camp tonight after Julia Krajewski deftly piloted the inexperienced but preternaturally talented Amande de b’Neville to silver medal position after adding just 0.4 time to their first-phase score of 25.2. That puts them just two penalties behind our leaders, which amounts to four seconds on the clock but not a rail to be had, which will certainly put the pressure on Oliver and Ballaghmor Class, for whom the final phase can be something of a weak spot, comparatively speaking.
In any case, Julia’s accomplishment has been an extraordinary one: ‘Mandy’ wasn’t ever intended as her Tokyo horse. Instead, that job was meant to go to the stalwart Samourai du Thot, Julia’s CCI5* winner and Rio mount. But tragedy struck early this year, and he was retired from eventing after losing his eye in a freak accident. And that wasn’t all the rider, who also coaches the German junior squad, had to contend with:
“This year, after [Samurai du Thot] retired, my father died at the beginning of the year,” she explained after her round, which was a masterclass in sympathetically producing an inexperienced horse around a championship track. “He would have — well he truly is proud to see me and us doing well. And all the people at home I know, who only wish for me to to do well. It’s a great relief and I’m happy that I’ve made it happen so far.”
Laura Collett and London 52. Photo by Sally Spickard.
Great Britain’s Laura Collett powered to third place overnight with the remarkable Holsteiner London 52, who has been almost unbeatable over the last eighteen months. Despite that, there was significant pressure on Laura’s shoulders — not just because she needed to produce a foot-perfect clear to keep the British team in gold medal position, but because she rode with the beady eyes of those naysayers, who’d seen London 52’s learning curve back in 2019 and held it up as a marker of unreliability, on her as she went around. But the proof is in the pudding — or, in this case, in the clear round inside the time.
“I’m not really sure I’ve got any words for it, to be honest,” she said after her round. “I’ve always said he’s a superstar and he just went out and proved to everyone just how good he is. And I’m just so relieved. I did my job and, you know, to be selected on this team this year — and everyone at home will understand this — we’ve had to fight for our place here. And, you know, he’s just proved to everybody he well and truly deserved it. And I can’t tell you how proud I am of him.”
The U.S. riders all turned in clear performances to keep themselves in contention for finishing on the podium tomorrow. As the first out for Team USA, Doug Payne and Vandiver made short work of the track and came home with 6.8 time penalties, moving into 23rd individually. Phillip Dutton and Z collected 4.8 time penalties to end the day in 17th place individually, and Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF will be the highest placed American riders with 3.2 time penalties and 14th place overnight.
Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.
As it stands now, the U.S. is 12.3 points out of medal contention, meaning that the possibility of a podium finish is still very real if the three team members can produce double-clear show jumping rounds tomorrow evening.
Doug Payne and Vandiver. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.
“It’s incredible,” Doug said after his performance this morning, as the third rider to leave the start box. “I’ll tell you right off the bat, I couldn’t be happier to have Vandiver. He’s got probably the biggest heart of any horse I’ve had the opportunity to work with and although he’s a bit unconventional times, he tries his heart out. That’s really all you could ask for on a course like this.”
Phillip was held on course with Z after Thailand’s Weerapat Pitakanonda fell from Carnival March at the C element of fence 20, the Mt. Fuji Water. Carnival March caught a ride back to the stabling in the horse ambulance but has been reported to be fine this evening, along with Weerapat.
“When you go that fast, you’ve got to take a few chances,” Phillip said. “And I had a little bit of a life at the last water. And then I got held on course, which is not ideal. I stop and then have to start again. But Z’s a great little horse and he’s got a big heart and I think it couldn’t have gone much better.”
Phillip Dutton and Z. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.
The day was clouded by tragedy, as Switzerland’s Robin Godel had to pull up Jet Set, who came up extremely lame after the Mt. Fuji Water at fence 20. Veterinarians were immediately on site to assist and Jet Set was loaded onto the horse ambulance for transport to the on-site clinic, where it was revealed he had sustained an irreparable ligament rupture on the right front, just above the hoof. As a result, the decision was made to humanely euthanize the 14-year-old gelding. We are devastated for Robin and all of Jet Set’s connections and are so very sorry for their loss.
Eventing is drawing to a close, and we’ll begin to wrap things up with the Second Horse Inspection at 9:30 a.m. JST / 8:30 p.m. EST on Monday. Show jumping will be held later in the day, beginning at 5 p.m. JST / 4 a.m. EST for the team jumping and individual qualifier. The top 20 will then return for a second jumping round to determine individual medals at 8:45 p.m. JST/7:45 a.m. EST.
Here’s a look at how the leaderboards are playing out after this influential phase. First up, let’s take a look at the individual top ten, where it remains incredibly tight at the top: there’s just 2 penalties between Oliver and Julia, which amounts to four seconds on the clock. It’s even tighter between second-placed Julia and third-placed Laura; with just 0.2 penalties between them, there isn’t so much as a second in hand. In fact, first-placed Oliver and fifth-placed Kazuma Tomoto and Vinci de la Vigne, who head up the home team’s hopes, have less than a rail between them. Tomorrow’s individual jumping final will come after each horse has already jumped a round, too – each team horse will jump an initial round to determine the team medals, before qualified horses will go on to jump the individual face-off to fight for their own medals.
Now let’s have a look at how the teams are stacking up. As predicted, it’s been a golden week for Great Britain so far, and they lead the way with four rails in hand over second-placed Australia, who made great strides up the leaderboard from sixth place with their three blazing-fast rounds — including that of Andrew Hoy, who delivered the fastest clear of the day to cross the line in 7:35. Rio gold medallists France may have started the week on the back foot after leaving team leaders Thibaut Vallette and Qing du Briot at home, and then having to face the tough withdrawal of Tom Carlile and Birmane, but just two time penalties across the board for the team meant that they could move from ninth up to bronze medal position. Just under two rails behind them, the Kiwi team knocks on the door for medal contention, followed by the US team in overnight fifth place.