London 2012 Olympics: Showjumpers off to strong start
NICK Skelton and Ben Maher ensured a strong start for GB’s showjumpers on the first day of Olympic qualifying competition at Greenwich Park.
The top 60 of a 75-strong field progress into the second of five stages, and neither British rider encountered problems.
Scotland’s Scott Brash, riding Hello Sanctos on his Olympic debut, had one fence down early in his round but recovered well.
“He was a little bit nervous when he came into the arena but he finished off good and confident,” Brash said. “I think he can only get better now.”
Charlotte Dujardin continued her remarkable rise to the top of world dressage by putting Great Britain in team gold medal position and smashing an Olympic record.
The 26-year-old’s breathtaking Olympic debut with Valegro gained a standing ovation from a capacity 23,000 crowd at Greenwich Park. Their grand prix score of 83.66 per cent was more than four percentage points better than the previous Olympic best of Germany’s Kristina Sprehe that stood for just two hours.
The team competition concludes on Tuesday with the grand prix special test – Dujardin is world record holder in that discipline – with GB having never previously won an Olympic dressage medal.
Their current team score of 79.40 per cent – the average mark of all three riders –Dujardin, Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer – is 0.56 per cent above Germany, with Holland third on 76.80 per cent.
Dujardin’s score was the best over two days of competition, with Dutch star Adelinde Cornelissen in second, Germany’s Helen Langehanenberg third, Hester fifth and Bechtolsheimer seventh.
The individual competition takes place on Thursday and closes the Olympic equestrian schedule.
“It is an amazing opportunity to ride here, and I really wanted to enjoy it,” said Dujardin.
“I was hoping for an 80 per cent score, so to come to the Olympics and smash that is a little bit crazy, but I had such fun. It was such a buzz, I can’t tell you.”
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