Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Eventing competition at the Olympic Equestrian Center at Deodoro continued on Sunday with the second day of dressage. The U.S. Olympic Eventing Team moved up from seventh place and is now tied with New Zealand for sixth place on a total of 137.50. Lauren Kieffer and Phillip Dutton gave strong performances for the U.S. in a hotly contested team competition.
Germany currently leads the team standings on a total of 122, followed closely by France in second on 122.20, and Australia in third on 126.40.
Leading off day two of dressage for the U.S. was Kieffer (Middleburg, Va.) on Team Rebecca LLC’s Veronica. The pair performed a beautifully consistent test with expressive trot work, but received low marks for the final collected canter and salute, earning a 47.30. “She was really good,” expressed Kieffer of the mare. “Her trot work was really nice – probably some of her strongest trot work. The walk tends to be her more difficult gait and she was quite good through that. I was happy with the canter. I think she missed the one change, but she seemed to really get punished at the end so I am bit disappointed with our score for sure.” Looking forward to Monday’s cross-country, Kieffer said, “The cross-country is very strong and I have a feeling by the end of tomorrow, today won’t matter much. It’s certainly a very strong track, one of the strongest tracks I’ve ever done. The footing is great through. There are lot of options to get home if you are having trouble. If you want to go for the win, you are really going to have to take some risks and it’s going to be tough out there.”
Anchoring the U.S. team was six-time Olympian Phillip Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) with HND Group’s Mighty Nice. Giving a clutch performance, Dutton rode Mighty Nice to a personal best for the pair at the four-star level, a 43.60. They are now the highest-placed American combination in 15th. With the exception of a bobble in the final flying change, the test flowed nicely and impressed in the canter work. “Obviously, you can always be better,” said Dutton. “The last flying change wasn’t that great, but there’s a lot of atmosphere in there and I couldn’t be more proud of my horse. I was hoping to get close to 40. That’s close to as good as he can do right now.” Turning his focus to cross-country, Dutton said, “I think it’s going to be difficult. I am at an advantage to see how it’s riding [Dutton goes penultimate in the order], but it’s a pretty unique kind of course. I think time is going to play a part and it’s going to cause a fair bit of trouble. It will be interesting to see some team strategies. What they are going to do and how they are going to go. Because the time is going to be hard to get, there is pressure all the way around. It’s going to be a proper competition.”
The top of the individual leaderboard did not change much with Great Britain’s William Fox-Pitt maintaining the lead on a score of 37.0 on his horse Chilli Morning and Australia’s Christopher Burton and Santano II holding second on 37.60. Mathieu Lemoine and Bart L took over third individually on a score of 39.20 for France.