Equestrian: Solid O'Connor remains in contention as Twomey fails to make cut
Published 06/08/2012 | 05:00
Despite two fences down yesterday, Cian O'Connor qualified for today's third round of competition in the race for individual showjumping gold in Greenwich Park.
But Ireland's second representative, Billy Twomey, failed to make the cut when adding eight more faults to the four collected in Saturday's opening class with Tinka's Serenade.
Twomey was first of the two Irishmen to take on the new course of colourful and testing fences designed by Bob Ellis, faulting at the London Bus wall at fence three and then clipping the penultimate vertical to leave him on a total of 12 faults after two days of competition.
O'Connor, who was clear in Saturday's opener, was 11th into the ring with Blue Loyd and had to ride strongly down the line from the Tower Bridge vertical at fence four to the following double and then the oxer at six. But all the poles stayed in place until he turned to the triple bar at 10. "He was really, really good, but I was bit quiet at the previous fence and stayed out too far on the turn, so it didn't come up right -- I have to take the eight faults on the chin myself," he said, having also lowered the following planks.
The top-45 qualified for today's next round, which will decide the team medals, and O'Connor earned his place when joint-31st. After today's competition, the top 35 horse-and-rider combinations will go into Wednesday's individual final.
Saudi Arabia took the lead yesterday in the battle for team gold. Earlier this year, two Saudi team members were handed eight-month bans by the FEI, which would have prevented them from competing here. These were reduced on appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), so World Championship individual silver medallist, Abdullah Sharbatly, has made the team with Sultan, who, however, provided their discount score yesterday.
The Saudis go into today's team final carrying a single time penalty, but have the British, Dutch, Swedes and Swiss breathing down their necks and less than a fence behind carrying four faults each.
The Canadians lie sixth with five faults, despite the disqualification of Tiffany Foster due to a hypersensitive test for her horse, Victor. The Canadian Federation objected to the disqualification, but under FEI rules it cannot be appealed.
And at a press conference, the 27-year-old rider was supported by defending individual Olympic Eric Lamaze, who described the disqualification as "a complete miscarriage of justice." FEI president Princess Haya said there was "absolutely no accusation of malpractice" and that she realised it was "a crushing experience for her."