London 2012: Germany wins Olympic equestrian team event

AP, Tuesday 31 Jul 2012

Second consecutive Olympic gold medal for Germany in equestrian

Ingrid Klimke
Ingrid Klimke, of Germany, rides Butts Abraxxas in the show jumping phase of the equestrian eventing competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics (Photo: AP)

Germany won its second consecutive Olympic gold medal in equestrian team eventing Tuesday, beating out hometown favorite Britain with Zara Phillips riding before her royal family.

Britain won the silver and New Zealand the bronze.

Princes William and Harry and William's wife Kate were in the stands to cheer on their cousin Phillips and the rest of the British squad. But Phillips and teammate Nicola Wilson knocked down rails, dashing Britain's chances for gold.

Eventing combines the discipline of dressage with the endurance of cross-country and skill of show jumping.

Germany went into the event atop the standings and maintained the lead throughout, ending with a final score of 133.7. Britain's final score was 138.2, while New Zealand had 144.4. The United States was seventh with 208.6.

In equestrian eventing the lowest penalty score wins.

"Unfortunately we couldn't quite do it," Phillips said. "We can't be disappointed with a silver medal because it's an amazing thing to be here."

German rider Dirk Schrade on King Artus, in 10th place in the individual standings with a score of 50.6, said he merely did what was required to help his country.

"That is the job I am expected to do," he said. "If someone can't do that, they don't make the team."

In the final phase of the event, Phillips incurred four penalty points when her horse, High Kingdom, knocked down the second fence. He completed the rest of the course cleanly, albeit a bit over the 83-second limit. The crowd gasped when the rail came down but applauded warmly as she finished.

"It was my fault," Phillips said. "After that he jumped fantastically."

Despite the knockdown, Phillips was in 14th place after the team competition, meaning she advances to the individual jumping final later Tuesday.

Phillips, a former world and European eventing champion who is 14th in line to the throne, said she had put High Kingdom in a tough takeoff spot as she approached the jump, leaving him little room to maneuver.

"I'm just disappointed for the team," she said.

She said she appreciated the effort her relatively inexperienced bay gelding gave her, given he lost two shoes during the arduous cross-country portion of the event on Monday.

Then, the 31-year-old granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II scored a penalty-free ride through the treacherous course, negotiating High Kingdom over 28 obstacles and a slippery course that claimed a dozen fallen riders. Her score helped bring Britain into second place in the team standings behind Germany heading into the final portion of the event.

Some of the first horses out on the show jump course Tuesday morning looked tired, with several pulling down multiple fences and incurring time penalties beyond the 83 seconds allowed. But William Fox-Pitt of Britain on Lionheart - the first British rider out - had a clean round, drawing raucous, foot-stomping cheers from the flag-waving hometown crowd.

The show jumping portion of eventing is designed to test the horse's agility and ability to recover from the difficult run the day before. The lowest three scores for each team counts for the team total. The lowest 25 scores go forward to the individual jumping competition later Tuesday.

Leading the standings for individual medals going into the final jumping round were Sara Algotsson Ostholt of Sweden on Wega with 39.3, Michael Jung of Germany on Sam with 40.6 and Mary King of Great Britain on Imperial Cavalier with 42.1.

As they did on Monday, William and Harry watched the competition from the VIP section of the main equestrian arena, joined by Camilla, Prince Charles' wife, and Phillips' mother Princess Anne.

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