New Zealand eventer Andrew Nicholson will be ruing the British weather after a delayed start to his Olympic dressage test unsettled Nereo, putting the combination further down the ranks than they’d hoped in 21st place.
Every sort of weather possible was thrown at riders – from a lovely hot sunny day to torrential rain complete with thunder and lightning.
Just before Nicholson and Nereo were to perform their test, judges called a 10-minute delay – also affecting Sweden’s Nicholas Lindback and Mister Pooh.
Nicholson finished with 45.00 penalties, while Lindback was just behind with 45.2 in 22nd place.
Coach Erik Duvander was as surprised as Nicholson at the decision to halt proceedings, saying he had never seen anything like it.
“For sure it did rain but it is an element of the sport so we deal with it,” he said.
“It is heart-breaking, when riders have for the past four or six years planned and worked towards this one event.”
By the time they entered the arena they were off the boil and while they did nothing wrong, one can only wonder what may have been if their preparation had gone to plan.
Nicholson was happy with how the horse went, but it wasn’t the performance he knows Nereo is capable of. His plight set the phones running hot between the London and New Zealand – it seems the Kiwis aren’t the only nation wanting to see Mr Consistency on that podium.
Nicholson told Fairfax Media: “With dressage, we’re given a time, we work it to the minute. You’re prepping the horse up, getting stronger and stronger, more energy, and then suddenly you’re told to stop. Do you let the horse down so he thinks he’s finished work, or do you carry on pressurising him for 10 more minutes, when you know you then can’t have him right in the arena?”
He told MSN news: “It was a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. I thought the British were meant to be sporting people. They didn’t mind the thunder and the lightning and the rain earlier, and then suddenly it’s a 10 minute delay. I’m very frustrated with the organisers, I’d expect more from them at an Olympic Games.”
Caroline Powell would also have been a little disappointed at Lenamore’s efforts. The grey belied his 19 years and appeared to want to get running. The combination finished in 43rd equal spot with 52.2 penalty points.
However, stoically, the team’s take is that while disappointing, they are now all focused on the cross country. As Duvander says, even if you could protest, it wouldn’t reverse anything.
Duvander says that while the course is not massive, the terrain and necessary speed will make it extremely challenging, and he’s confident the Kiwis are still definitely in for a chance for medals in both team and individual.
“It’s great to see so many nations still in with a chance and it is going to be incredibly exciting for the crowd over the next two days,” he said.