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Show Jumping 2nd Qualifier & Team Final Round 1 Proves A Challenge at the 2004 Olympics; Midnight Medal Ceremony Will Be A Highlight of Long Day of Show Jumping

Equestrian Olympics

Today the show jumpers will take part in what will be the longest day of equestrian competition at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Beginning with the Individual 2nd Qualifier and Team Round 1 (run concurrently as one class) and ending in the wee early hours on Wednesday with the awarding of the Team medal. The show jumpers must be prepared to put in as many as three rounds before it is all over. Along with the Team medal, today will provide the cut for those competing on Friday’s final day of the sport at Markopoulo Center – the Individual Show Jumping medal, where all previous scores are gone and the top 20 riders making the cut start anew in their bid for the Individual Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.

On a course that was more challenging than Sunday’s, there were a greatly reduced number of clear rounds. Not only were the heights of the fences elevated…so were the stakes. The water jump (fence #7) proved a tricky spot for many of the combinations as penalty points seemed to loom upon it. Thus was the case for Peter Wylde and McLain Ward, both Team USA members. The ten to be tied with zero faults going into today’s competition were quick to watch their standings scramble across the big and tricky course designed by Germany’s Olaf Petersen.

Up ninth this morning, and first for the U.S. squad, were Peter Wylde and his Holsteiner mare Fein Cera. Having put in a clear round within the time on Sunday, he stood at a tie with 10 other riders for first place. He found himself picking up 12 penalties during his morning round – four at the aforementioned water and eight more in downed obstacles.

Of his 12 faults, he said, “I’m mostly disappointed because that puts a lot of pressure on my teammates. I met the water wrong and that was my fault. I just got there too early.” This leaves Wylde with a total of 12 faults for the first two rounds of the Individual Qualifiers and the same score going toward the Team Final. “Hopefully, this [his score] will be the drop score.” It turned out to be just the case for the morning’s Nations Cup.

At 25th in the order of go for the morning was New York’s McLain Ward aboard the Belgian Warmblood mare Sapphire. On Sunday’s first round, the pair made their way across the course at Markopoulo and went clear; however they picked up one time penalty on the 94-seconds allotted.

Today, he was also a victim of the water jump, having simply reached it too early. He picked up four penalties. His other tough spot came at the triple fence (#11c – the Greek Doors) – adding another four for a total of eight penalties.

Commenting on his efforts, Ward said, “I made a bad ride to the water. I made it too slow and I took it for granted. The mare actually was jumping very, very good.”

Sapphire, according to Ward, has proven to be a bit slow and has a big stride. In making the tight turns on this course, the pairing was hesitant to get to the water too early as Wylde had done earlier in the morning. They finished the Sunday’s and today’s pair of Individual qualifiers with 9 total penalties.

Number 48 across the jump course was Chris Kappler from New Jersey and his Dutch Warmblood stallion Royal Kaliber. After tackling the course during Sunday’s round, he posted four faults for a downed rail. Today his fortunes were better, and he went clean and within the 96-seconds allowed for the 14-obstacle round. At the end of the morning, he stood at a total of four faults for both rounds. He was thankful for the morning’s breeze, which offset the heat, and his horse was in good spirits in the schooling area.

“I was really confident going in the ring with him,” he said. “I had my plan from the minute that I walked it [the course]. I watch and go by my own instincts.”

“It’s a whole new atmosphere tonight with the lights, and you never know what is going to happen,” said Kappler, obviously looking forward to competing in the Team medal contest. “I’ve wanted more than anything in my whole life to win a medal at the Olympics,” he added.

Last of the show jumpers from the United States to take on the course was New York’s Beezie Madden and her Dutch Warmblood gelding Authentic. One of the two U.S. riders to go clear and within time during the First Individual Qualifier, she usually prefers to be among the early riders to take on a course during competition. However, today she found herself in the same riding boots as Sunday, going very late among the draw of riders at 67th. It had no effect and she jumped a clear round and within the given time. She is the only U.S. rider to stand without a fault at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

“I had so many riders to watch [over the course],” said Madden. “But, I had a plan anyway when I walked it that was good for me.” She did feel a bit of added pressure going last of the U.S. riders, knowing that we needed a clear round to be in the hunt for medals at day’s end.

The water that had given other riders concern was no trouble for Madden. “It’s kind of just a bending line. You have to think the same things always at the water – pace, line, distance.” The rider took the jump in eight strides.

On a lighter note, it sounded like Madden was just glad that this day had finally come. “We were finished waiting for this day,” she smiled. “It was exciting to have it finally be here.”

Today’s second installment of show jumping will see an 8:30 p.m. start time when the 3rd Qualifier for the Individual Medal will commence, in addition to Round 2 of the Team Jumping Final at 10:00 p.m. After which, just past midnight Athens time, new Gold, Silver and Bronze Team medalists will be crowned under the bright lights at the 2004 Olympic Games. Twenty riders from tonight will advance to Friday’s final day of equestrian competition on a leveled-score and level playing field in their quest to bring home an Individual show jumping medal.

Leading Riders After Show Jumping Individual Standings - 2nd Qualifier

(Placing / Rider / Horse / Country / Total Faults)

1. Beezie Madden / Authentic (USA) – 0
2. Juan Carlos Garcia /Albin III (Italy) – 1
Ludger Beerbaum / Goldfever (Germany) – 1
4. Kevin Babington / Carling King (Ireland) – 3
5. Wim Schroder / Montreal (Netherlands) – 4
Antonis Petris / Gredo la Daviere (Greece) – 4
Ludo Philippaerts / Parco (Belgium) – 4
Gert-Jan Bruggink / Joel (Netherlands) – 4
Chris Kappler / Royal Kaliber (USA) – 4
Rolf-Goran Bengtsson / Mac Kinley (Sweden) – 4
Thomas Velin / Carnute (Denmark) – 4

Leading Teams After the Team Jumping Final – Round 1

(Placing / Country / Total Team Penalties)

1. Germany - 4
2. Netherlands – 8
USA – 8
4. Sweden – 12
Switzerland – 12
Belgium – 12