What a great first day of show jumping at the London Olympics Saturday, complete with perfect conditions and an appreciative crowd. Seventy-five horses and riders representing 26 countries entered the new Greenwich Park facility for the first time over an inviting track that produced 32 clear rounds.
Canada turned in respectable rounds for the first day of competition in the first individual jumper qualifier, with all four members advancing to the next round.
Jill Henselwood on George was fourth to go and received a score of five penalty points. One knockdown and one time fault. George is known for being a little hard to handle but on opening day, given all the stadium distractions, he was in good form.
Tiffany Foster, riding Victor, finished with eight penalty points. They appeared to be a little rushed and lowered the height of two fences.
Eric Lamaze with Derly Chin De Muze was in top form, while the young mare was brave and careful. I think most watching this pair were wondering if the glitches we witnessed earlier in the summer at Spruce Meadows (refusals at the triple combinations) had been dealt with.
The pair looked relaxed and comfortable and produced what many have come to expect from Lamaze, and that is a clear round.
Anchoring the Canadian team, Ian Millar made the history books when he started Saturday with his 10th Olympic appearance. Riding Star Power, he finished with four penalty points.
Among Saturday's highlights:
However, with the numerous examples of impressive animals demonstrating their world-class greatness, there were several moments of disasters for these elite athletes.
From the 75 entries that competed Saturday, the top 60 riders and all team riders qualify for Sunday's competition, Round 1 of the team qualifier.
A lot of jumping remains and the tests are going to get harder, along with an increase in the heights and widths of the obstacles.
The hunt for team medals begins in earnest Sunday, and Beezie Madden, Reed Kessler and company will certainly be chased by powerhouse Germany.
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