Today was Day 2 of Team and Individual Dressage -- make-or-break day, with some power pairs to ride yet. The English sky was dramatic with come-and-go rain and sun, over the stately roofs of Greenwich Park's 18th century buildings, as the second half of the 50 dressage entries ran through their tests one by one.
Carl Hester, one of the two openly gay riders, started the day with the score to beat -- his 77.720 from yesterday. But he was bumped to second by Germany's Kristina Sprehe and her good ride on Desperados. Then came Britain's Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro, who blew the roof off with an 83.784. The crowd exploded into a long ovation. Rarely do dressage judges give scores over 80. It was to be the best score of the round.
Edward Gal, the other gay rider, was eighth to ride on his new young partner, Undercover, a bay Dutch warmblood gelding. The pair turned in a creditable 75.289 that ranked them sixth at the moment. As Gal rode out of the ring, his beaming face told the world that he was happy with how his horse went. Undercover got lots of big pats on the neck from his human.
By the end of the day, Gal and Undercover were sitting 11th.
Both gay riders will go on to the Grand Prix Special on August 7, with a shot at the individual gold. Team medals are also possible for both men. Each team has three riders. Team points will go on accumulating through the Special, with Great Britain presently standing first, Netherlands second and Germany third.
'I hope we will get a medal," Gal told the press, "but I don't know which color yet.'
The U.S.'s Steffen Peters was one of the last to go, on his veteran mount, Ravel, who carried him to a team bronze at the 1996 Olympics in Athens. The two had a brilliant run, with a score of 77.948 that put them in 6th place. They too will be moving on to the Special. Since the other two riders on the U.S. had lower scores, the U.S. is not in the top 3 for team medals at the moment. But that could change if Peters does well in the Special.
The shocker of Round 1 was Anky van Grunsven and Salinero, who have won three gold medals in previous Olympics. Today they wound up in 16th place. But the Special gives Salinero a fresh start on a 4th gold.
It was a lucky day for Ann Romney and her Oldenburg mare, Rafalca. So many of today's individual scores topped Rafalca's 70.243 of yesterday that she was pummeled down to 30th place. But 30th means that the Romney horse squeaked into the Special on August 7.
Find more about Patricia on her Web site. Copyright (c) 2012 by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved.