TRYON, N.C.--Cross Country day for the U.S. set off on a bad foot as Will Coleman on Tight Lines had a stop in the water complex that caused numerous problems and then had a second sun-out at one of the corners to finish on 87.2, 68th of the 72 finishers from 82 starters.
Then Boyd Martin on Tsetserleg, who was standing on a terrific dressage score of 27.1, also had a run-out in the same water complex when he hit the second element on an off stride, so he finished on 58.7, destroying the team's chance to medal.
"We all know that a life with horses can bring you the highest of victories and the lowest defeat," said Martin on his Facebook page. "We're still in the game, but today was a tough one. One thing is for sure, Tsetserleg stepped to the plate and was a champion out there, and on the upside Team USA is still in the hunt for Olympic qualification."
Lynn Symanski on Donner was terrific, finishing double clear, no jumping and no time faults, to end up in ninth on her dressage score of 28.3, and Phillip Dutton on Z was clear but had 6.4 time penalties to add to his dressage score of 27.6 to finish on 34.0, in 21st place.
“I am pretty lucky to be on this horse today,” Symansky said. “I trust him and he trusts me and it really did just ride completely according to plan. I was a little bit down on my minutes midway through the course but didn’t panic too much. I gave him his time through the middle because I know I can really rely on the fact that he is a Thoroughbred. At the end of that hill, he just dug so deep for me today. He was awesome.”
“I think the hardest thing for him is how close the ropes are, that really is always the biggest challenge for him," said Symansky. "I took a bit of time in some of the trickier lines and some of the combinations where there is a lot to look at is where I wasted a little bit of time with him but I knew I could make it up at the end. He felt awesome; he is so cool. I am so lucky.”
“He was very good," said Dutton of Z. "The priority at this stage was for me to jump a clear round, not take too many risks, but go as fast as I could to get close to the time. At this stage, he did exactly what I asked him to do.”
For Dutton, obviously, the most important thing was to jump a clear round to give the team any chance at all of qualifying for the Olympics, so that's what he did.
Individual Lauren Kieffer on Vermiculus fell on the landing side of the Land Rover Turn combination for elimination, but both horse and rider are fine.
The team is eighth on 121.0 behind the leaders, Great Britain, 80.8, Ireland, 89.0, France, 91.8, Japan, 100.9, Australia, 112.2, Germany, 114.2 and Sweden, 115.5.
In my post yesterday I mistakenly reported that Japan was third, but France is third and Japan fourth.
As Martin pointed out, the one good thing is the U.S. is still in the hunt for gaining Olympic qualification.
With Japan currently sitting in fourth and a secured Tokyo 2020 spot as the host nation, the U.S. team needs to place seventh or better to secure their own Olympic team qualification.
The U.S. has to have a good stadium jumping, as it is two rails out of jumping over either Australia, Germany or Sweden.
EquiRatings has the following statistics:
- 66.7% of competitors went clear across the course. Tryon is the only World Championships to ever have higher than a 50% clear jumping rate on cross country day.
- 21% of pairs jumped inside the time (including Chris Burton, who made the time with a stop). That is the largest percentage ever to make time at a World Championships. The previous high was 19% in 2010 (when two riders also made time with a stop).
- This is the first time since 1996 that all teams have remained in the competition at a World Championships following cross country.
Some of the surprising results, particularly with so many jumping clear, is how many top riders had problems.
Martin was one of them, but Blyth Tate of New Zealand, an Olympic champion, was eliminated, and Germany's Julia Ktajewski on Chipmunk, leader after dressage, had a stop as did Christopher Burton of Australia and Sir Mark Todd of New Zealand.
One of the fences in the water complex that caused so many problems was a jump out of the water with a waterfall under the top rail.
Some horses wouldn't even go near it, and as reports of the many problems it caused got back to the start box most of the riders in the second half of the competition went to the left of that fence, taking a slightly longer but obviously safer route.
The final horse inspection too place Sunday at 3 p.m., and the competition now will conclude on Monday with the show jumping phase in the U.S. Trust Arena and will be streamed live on FEI TV.