Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - The equestrian venue at Deodoro Olympic Park was filled with excitement Tuesday for the second day of show jumping at the 2016 Olympic Games. A total of 69 athlete-and-horse combinations representing 24 countries, including 15 teams, competed in the first half of the two-round team competition, which also served as the second qualifier for the individual finals.
The U.S. team produced three clear rounds which put them in a four-way tie for first place with The Netherlands, Germany, and Brazil, each with zero faults. France is hot on their heels with one fault, followed by Canada with four.
Guilherme Jorge's course was less technical than what he had set for Sunday's first individual qualifier. He included added dimensions with long approaches to the fences for a time allowed of 81 seconds that proved to be a challenge for some riders. Power, speed, and accuracy proved to be the winning formula to complete Jorge's second course clear.
The trailblazer for the U.S. was Farrington (Wellington, Fla.) and Amalaya Investments' 14-year-old KWPN gelding, Voyeur. Repeating their foot-perfect performance from Sunday, this dynamic duo produced the second clear round of the day to get the U.S. off to a great start.
"I wouldn't say it's massive in size yet, but I am sure that's to come," Farrington said of the round one course. "I think tomorrow will be significantly bigger. It's exactly what you would expect at a championship level. The time allowed is quite short, which I think is going to be a factor either through time faults or rails down because of people worrying about the time. Obviously, I am thrilled with my horse. It was a great start for Team USA."
The second rider for the U.S. was Davis (Los Angeles, Calif.), piloting Old Oaks Farm's Barron, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. Davis and Barron were poised and ready, matching Farrington's performance with a second clean round for the U.S. team.
"I'm very relieved now that it's over. After yesterday's rail I hoped that it would set me up well for today and it definitely did," Davis said. "He was incredibly sharp and with me. I was maybe a little more tense than usual. I really wanted this for the team. I think tomorrow I will be a bit more relaxed after seeing how well he handled this day and how confident everyone on the team is. It's nice in my position. I can really count on them [my teammates]. I am pretty lucky, especially for the Olympics, to be on a mount like Barron. He makes it easy."
Riding with his trademark textbook style, Ward (Brewster, N.Y.) with Double H Farm and Francois Mathy's Azur, a 10-year-old Belgian Warmblood mare, cruised around the ring and turned in the third fault-free performance for the U.S.
"Once I jumped through the triple I kind of settled in," said Ward. "I knew the team was in a good position. Obviously, we needed to be clear today to be in a good position for tomorrow. We are a good team. So far we didn't lose it. I think tomorrow will go up another level."
Riding anchor for the U.S. team, Madden (Cazenovia, N.Y.)entered the ring on Abigail Wexner's Cortes 'C' knowing that the U.S. had three clear rounds they would not need her score. Still needing a score for the individual competition, Madden and the 14-year-old Belgium Warmblood gelding experienced an unfortunate rub at fence three and a misplaced foot at the water jump to accumulate eight penalties.
"It was a short seven up the first line, and maybe I was a little casual about the back rail, and then he clipped that," Madden said. "The water has been riding difficult all day. I just didn't quite get across. I think he actually finished better than he started in the course, so hopefully tomorrow we're in good shape."
Madden and Cortes 'C' will continue Wednesday in the team competition, however with a total of 12 faults after two days of competition, they will not move forward to Friday's individual final.
Action continues Wednesday as the top eight teams from round one return for the final round of the team competition. Riders who qualify will advance to the two-round individual final on Friday.