presented by Gaitpost Magazine

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Truth Day – Cross Country

Apparently the Captain (Mark Phillips that is) was not very happy about Canada’s proximity in points to the US after yesterday’s dressage. I guess he thought less of our team’s DQ potential than they were capable of. There has been some buzz that Canada could actually challenge the US for gold. But my opinion has been that things would have to go very, very well for us and very, very badly for them today on course. The Americans are all on four star horses, and all but one on the team is a veteran, even newly minted American Phillip Dutton, who has not so far shaken his telltale Aussie accent.

We have a lovely tent with tables here at the water jump, which sees every horse twice and is definitely the place to be to watch as much as possible. I’m seated at a table only about a meter from where the horses gallop past on their way to the first part of the water (maybe too close?) and 15 meters from the splash. Cool! Something that worked out even better than at other big events!

Like Mike Winter said yesterday, when you see the jungle they hacked this course out of, it is truly amazing that there is a lovely green turf track and beautifully presented obstacles. One of the water jumps is an alligator. Mike also mentioned that the timber on many of the jumps is a little lighter than North Americans are used to, and I see what he means. It really is true, the rainforest is disappearing, and the size of these logs is evidence.

It wasn’t an auspicious start at the water. The first horse to jump in over the logs, Theodore O’Connor, knocked the top log off into the water. They spent the next half dozen gaps between horses putting on rope to replace the baling twine that had been holding the jump together. So far it’s stood up to subsequent abuse.

Well I called it: the Americans have not toppled from their pedestal , but Canada had a great day. All four team riders went clear (some with time) and the individual Jessica Phoenix had just one stop at one of the toughest complexes on course. The Canucks looked GOOD out there. Kyle Carter is in fourth (tied with an American) and he had arguably the best run through the water. It was really exciting to see Canadian eventers look confident on the cross country. Maybe Super Dave O’Connor is turning us around! I only see cross country courses at Olympics and WEG these days, so I must admit this course looked less terrifying than what I’ve become used to, but that doesn’t diminish the Canucks’ achievements today. Rock on!

Tune in tomorrow for news of the eventing medals and my proposal for a new hit reality show, Fear Factor Brazil.

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