Four-time Olympian William Fox-Pitt got his fifth Games off to a superb start this afternoon at the Olympic Equestrian Centre, as he finished the first day of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games equestrian eventing competition in the lead with the sixteen year old stallion Chilli Morning.
The day had got off to a good start, as another glorious morning in Rio welcomed thirty-three combinations into the arena to contest the eventing dressage phase up at Deodoro.
Olympic debutant and pathfinder for the British team Gemma Tattersall, with Quicklook V owned by The Pebbles Syndicate, was first into the arena for Team GB. Producing some lovely movements throughout the test with the grey British-bred mare, Gemma was unlucky to incur a slight mistake in the first extended trot, in an otherwise flawless routine. A final salute saw a score of 47.2 penalties awarded for the duo.
Commenting after her test she said; "A little bit disappointed with the score today but she went in and we both did our absolute best and she tried really, really hard for me. It's hot today and she just slightly dropped behind me a little bit which is perhaps why we didn't get the score today, but its still a good team score. She did all the movements really well apart from one mistake and I was really proud of her."
The afternoon saw William and Christopher Stone’s Chilli Morning enter the stadium. Finding their rhythm, the duo produced some lovely work in the impressive arena to be awarded high scores for their collected canter and half circles. A final halt saw big pats for Chilli, with cheers from the crowd as a score of 37 penalties was confirmed.
William said after his test; "It's what I was dreaming of, he's good on the flat and he's worked brilliantly with Tracie Robinson [eventing dressage coach] in the build-up to being here. He did a good test at the World Equestrian Games, a good test at Malmo [European Championships, 2013] and I just didn't want to let him down. He felt lovely and calm, it's a good start.”
With a strong line-up of competitors still to ride in the afternoon session, it was a nervous wait to hear the final results at the end of day one, but William remains in the lead overnight after Australia’s Christopher Burton (Santano II) finished on a score of 37.6 penalties, with current Olympic champion, Germany’s Michael Jung (Sam FBW) lying third after posting 40.9 penalties.
The results from today see the British team occupying third place in the team standings, behind Germany and Australia. Great Britain’s remaining athletes Pippa Funnell (Billy The Biz) and Kitty King (Ceylor L A N) get their Olympic campaigns underway tomorrow.
The 2016 Olympic eventing competition sees the cross-country phase contested on Monday (8 August) with the final phase, showjumping, decided on Tuesday.