Germany rose to the top of the leaderboard with a score of 17.80 on the second day of team competition in the Jumping World Championship, presented by Rolex, at the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.
An impressive showing by Brazil put them in second with 18.49 faults, with the U.S. fractionally behind them in third place (18.69 faults). Tomorrow (Wednesday) the 10 top-placed teams will contest the third and final round to decide the gold medal.
Brazil’s Rodrigo Pessoa, who sits in second individually, said the team is thrilled with their performance today, but he knows there are many more jumps in front of them.
“The first two days have worked out good for us,” he said. “But you can see the results. There are seven teams within one rail. Tonight we sit here and we look pretty as one-two-three, but we could be seven-eight-nine or five-six-seven tomorrow. The story tomorrow is totally different. We’ll try to maintain and stay focused on what we have to do. Our riders are really experienced. The horses are good, so we’ll try to do our best to keep that position or maybe just slip one. That would be OK for us still. We’ll do our very best, because we’ve never been in this place before, so we’ll do the utmost.”
Germany’s Marcus Ehning agreed that the team medal is what’s on his mind now, and he knows it will be a tough fight.
“What’s very important tomorrow is the team,” he said. “If I am quite good tomorrow, I have a good chance to be in the top 25, and then we’ll see how it goes. There are so many good horse-and-rider team combinations.”
The other teams qualified for the team medal final are: Canada (18.93), France (20.32), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (21.48), Australia (21.87), Belgium (22.70), Sweden (23.18) and Great Britain (23.80).
Today’s Conrad Homfeld-designed course left only 17 out of 119 starters with clear rounds. The 16-obstacle course, with a “Kentucky Racing” theme, course caused problems throughout, including many at the water jump.
“That jump can be a heart-breaker,” said Homfeld. “I have no real explanation for it. It was bigger today than yesterday. That might account for some of the activity. It’s the second time in the ring, so maybe it’s not quite as interesting as it was the first time, but the jump wreaks havoc.”
Comparing he individual rankings to the current team rankings, shows no real consistency, with leaders from all over the world. Germany’s chef d’equipe, Otto Becker, credits this to the increase in interest in the sport.
“In Germany we talk a lot about this,” he said. “Four years ago the orld championships in Aachen [Germany] was the same; there are riders from countries 10 years ago you would never expect would ride a clear round. And this we can see today again. Everybody is a lot closer, and it’s harder for the bigger nations to stay in front. Everything is close together. To get a medal you need an optimal week here with the team, otherwise you have no chance. The others are too strong now.”
Topping the list of individual leaders after today’s competition is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Khaled Al Eid on Presley Boy, the individual bronze medalist from the 2000 Olympics.
“I think everybody remembers him from Sydney,” said Pessoa. “He’s an unbelievable rider. He has a lot of feeling, and with this horse—which is really unbelievable—he’s a very, very tough competitor. He had two really beautiful rounds, and no doubt about it he’s a serious contender to go all the way.” Tomorrow’s jumping will be broken into two sessions, starting at 1 p.m. and 7:20 p.m. The first session is open to all team members whose teams have not qualified for the second round of the team competition and to individual riders not starting in the evening sesson. All riders in this session start in reverse order of their individual classification. The evening session is open to 15 individual riders (taken from individual riders and team members whose teams have not qualified for the second round of the team competition) and to the top 10 teams. In this session the top 15 individuals start before the top 10 teams in the reverse order of their individual classification. The top 10 teams start in the reverse order of their team classification Tomorrow’s course will be a similar one, minus the water jump, and with a few adjustments to size and dimension.
“The process is a narrowing-down process,” said Homfeld. “You start with a big field, and the system is devised to slowly start narrowing down the field by increasing the degree of difficulty, so I am trying to do that in some kind of reasonable way considering all the people that are here and considering the horses.”
Today’s total attendance was 29,841. The total attendance for the first 11 days of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games is 323,145.
About the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games The Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games are the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines recognized by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). The Games are held every four years and this will be the first occurrence in the United States.
The Games will be broadcast on NBC Sports, which marks the largest commitment to network coverage of equestrian sport in U.S. television history. The 2010 Games are expected to have a statewide economic impact of $167 million, and current sponsors include Alltech, Rolex, John Deere, Ariat International, Inc., Meydan, Kentucky Ale, and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. For more information on the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games please visit, www.alltechfeigames.com.