Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - The eventing horse inspection officially kicked off equestrian competition at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday. Over the next 14 days, 204 athlete-and-horse combinations in the three equestrian disciplines of eventing, dressage, and show jumping will compete for coveted Team and Individual medals at Rio's Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Center.
The U.S. Olympic Eventing Team of Phillip Dutton and Mighty Nice, Lauren Kieffer and Veronica, Boyd Martin and Blackfoot Mystery, and Clark Montgomery and Loughan Glen were deemed fit and ready to compete and will join a total of 65 combinations representing 24 countries. The U.S. Team will be led by U.S. Eventing Coach David O'Connor, the 2000 Olympic Games Individual Gold medalist.
"We are in pretty good spirits and have had a great prep," said O'Connor. "The horses traveled really well and are relaxed. They have done a great job here in Brazil welcoming us and the horses. We feel good with our two lead-offs tomorrow in Boyd and Clark; both horses look like they've really come on and are great. Then we finish strong with Lauren and Phillip on day two. I am actually quite pleased and confident with how the horses have been going."
The U.S. has drawn 12th in the starting order among the 13 countries participating in team competition. The U.S. riders will compete in the following order.
Dressage Day One, Saturday, August 6:
Leading off for the U.S. will be Martin (Cochranville, Pa.), a 2012 Olympic veteran, and highest-placed U.S. rider at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2014 and 2010, and Team Gold medalist at the 2015 Pan American Games. Martin will ride the Blackfoot Mystery Syndicate LLC's Blackfoot Mystery, a 2004 Thoroughbred gelding. This partnership is only a year old but has already proven its merit with a top-ten finish at the 2015 The Dutta Corp./USEF Three-Star Eventing National Championship. In 2016, Martin and 'Big Red' placed sixth at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover.
Next in the order is Montgomery (Bryan, Texas), a first-time Olympian, who will ride Holly and William Becker, Kathryn Kraft, and Jessica Montgomery's Loughan Glen, a 2003 Irish Sport Horse gelding. This pair has been based in England for the last three years, gaining significant competitive experience. Montgomery and 'Glen' had an impressive 2015, winning the CIC3* at the Belton International, CIC2* at Somerford Park International, and CCI3* at Blenheim Palace International, along with a sixth-place finish at Luhmühlen CCI4*. Most recently, this pair won the 2016 Land Rover Great Meadow International presented by Adequan.
Dressage Day Two, Sunday, August 7:
First into the arena for the U.S. on day two will be Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.), a first-time Olympian, who will ride Team Rebecca LLC's Veronica, a 2002 KWPN mare. 'Troll', as she known in the barn, is a tough, sassy mare that has won the heart of Kieffer in their three-year partnership. This duo helped bring home a Team Bronze medal at the 2015 CICO3* at Aachen. Most recently, they were winners of the 2016 Rolex/USEF CCI4* National Championship at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover.
Anchoring the U.S. Team will be Dutton (West Grove, Pa.), who is contesting his sixth Olympic Games, having earned Team Gold medals in 2000 and 1996 for his native Australia. He is also a two-time Pan American Games Team Gold medalist for the U.S. and will ride HND Group's Mighty Nice, a 2004 Irish Sport Horse gelding. Mighty Nice, known as Happy, was imported by Dutton and Bruce Duchossois in 2010. Following Duchossois' passing in 2014, friends put together the HND Group in order to support Dutton's goals of competing Happy at the highest levels of the sport. The pair has been consistently demonstrating its athletic prowess, earning the Reserve Championship title at the 2015 The Dutta Corp./USEF Three-Star Eventing Championship and placing fourth at the 2016 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event presented by Land Rover.
The eventing competition commences with the dressage phase, August 6-7. The cross-country phase follows on August 8, and the competition concludes on August 9, with show jumping.
Keep up-to-date on equestrian competition at the Rio Olympic Games on the USEFNetwork.com. Coverage includes links to live streams and TV coverage, athlete bios, behind-the-scenes photos, and more.