Australia’s medal hopes in the Eventing competition took
a significant hit during day 2 cross country, after two athletes – including
WAIS scholarship holder Clayton Fredericks – were eliminated following falls on
the tricky course.
The Australian team headed into the cross country in
second position, but were relegated to sixth at the close, after Fredericks and
Sam Griffiths fell from their mounts and were disqualified from competition,
leaving the team with just three riders for the final round show jumping.
Australia’s troubles were worsened after Clayton’s wife
and fellow WAIS scholarship holder Lucinda was penalised for an error through
the water jump, as the team’s bright start to competition faltered.
The day started out with an impressive ride by Olympic
debutant Chris Burton who went clear over all jumps and galloped home under
time to give the team an inspiring start.
But it wasn’t the finish they had hoped for with Burton
admitting the team is not feeling the best.
"Of course we are a little bit down in the dumps. We are
a very strong nation in eventing and we were confident of doing well but the
dynamics of jumping horses over fences around slippery grass at those speeds,
unforseen things happen.
"For me I couldn’t
have asked for a better run. She (HP Leilani) was fantastic she is an
experienced mare and I love her to bits,” he said.
Equestrian Section Manager Brett Mace said he was proud
of the team and all things considering, they rode very well.
"They still did a great job, the two that fell were
riding very well, they didn’t make a mistake at the fences, it was clearly a
case of the horses slipping. There was not much the riders can do about that –
these things happen.”
There was some impressive riding from the Aussie outfit
and for second rider on course Sam Griffiths it was the last two minutes that
saw Happy Times fall just short to crossing the line.
"He (Happy Times) is a real galloper so this was where he
was going to star but I had no luck today but that is the sport.
"I was actually feeling pretty confident I had done what
I considered to be the hardest part of the course I was pretty confident that I
was going to make the time but it was just one of those things,” said
The Aussies were well prepared for the tough terrain that
they faced, with veteran Andrew Hoy admitting they knew the slippery ground
would play a part.
"I learnt from watching the first few horses going that
it was very slippery, I was very cautious, I rode today with studs bigger than
I have ever ridden with before,” he said.
For the three remaining riders they have one final phase
in the showjumping and will need to go clear and under time to pull the Aussies
up the ladder.
The final day of competition begins at 8.30am on Day 4.