Brits make solid start to showjumping

04 August 2012 / 17:12

Great Britain's showjumpers made a solid start to the quest for a first equestrian Olympic medal since 1984 at Greenwich Park.

While it did not all go according to plan, with former European champion Peter Charles crashing out of the individual competition on Vindicat, his team-mates Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Nick Skelton all enjoyed a trouble-free opening day.

The top 60 riders from a field of 75 in Saturday's one-round class progress to Sunday's second phase, when the race for team medals also begins.

While Charles remains an integral part of Britain's team medal quest, his individual hopes are over, but he was in good company as American Beezie Madden and Germany's Christian Ahlmann also made shock exits.

Britain's last Olympic showjumping medal was secured by the team of John Whitaker, Michael Whitaker, Tim Grubb and Steven Smith in Los Angeles, and Maher is upbeat about their prospects on home territory.

"We are positive as a team, we think we have a chance," the Hertfordshire-based rider said. "We want to go out strong from the beginning and make the others try to chase us."

Maher delivered an immaculate round on Tripple X III, his Olympia World Cup champion last December, and he added: "He felt like there was plenty more left in him, and he will only improve on that.

"He wasn't fazed by the crowd, and it's good to get that first round done. We've been waiting a long time - it feels like time has stood still the last few weeks. The atmosphere is unbelievable. Normally, I don't hear anything when I am riding, but it is pretty easy to get distracted by it here. The main thing is the horse stays focused."

Reflecting on the opening day, Great Britain team manager Rob Hoekstra said: "We started off really well. But I think as we went on the competition got louder and louder and more excited, and the last two horses (Sanctos and Vindicat) were definitely a bit affected by the environment when they came into the arena.

"That is why I think the mistakes happened quite early in the course, and it happened to some of the other nations as well, not only us. I am quite happy. We needed to get this round out of the way. I am really positive for tomorrow."