04 July 2011

Aussies give Greenwich Park the green light for London 2012

4 July 2011

Aussies give Greenwich Park the green light for London 2012

Greenwich Park, London: In the heart of London, the heritage listed Greenwich Park provided a stunning
backdrop as some the world’s best equestrian riders gathered to compete in the CIC** Eventing Invitational as
part of the London 2012 Olympic Games Test Series.

The home of the equestrian competition for next year’s Olympic Games, Greenwich Park underwent a major
overhaul which included a world-first temporary raised arena, 70x80 metres and held off the ground by 2100 pillars so to preserve the world renowned grounds and park.

Australian representatives, Clayton Fredericks and Sam Griffiths, both agreed that the venue was unique and ideal of the Games, with equestrian competition for the first time located in the heart of all the Olympic Games action.

It was a success start for the Aussies on day one of competition, with Fredericks and BENDIGO leading for most of the day after Dressage competition on 40.9 penalty points.

Pulling ahead of heavy favourites William Fox-Pitt (Great Britain) ranked second on the World Rider Rankings and 2011 Badminton Champion Mark Todd (New Zealand), Fredericks, a silver medallist from Beijing Olympic Games, has set himself up nicely ahead of tomorrow’s cross country course.

As the day drew to a close it was local rider Piggy French and DHI TOPPER W who came out and owned the arena, finishing in first place on 34.70 penalty points and pushing Fredericks into second.  The crowd erupted as their Olympic hopeful gave them a taste of what they hope can be repeated for Great Britain in 12 months’ time.

Michael Jung and RIVER OF JOY finished in third place for Germany on 41.40 penalty points, with Aussie Sam Griffiths and PAULANK BROCKAGH currently sitting 22nd on the ladder with 56.40.

While competitors are using the invitational event to gage what can be expected at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Fredericks admitted that as an athlete you always have that competitive streak in you.

“I’m a competitor so I like to win.  But I did come into this competition using it as a stepping stone to get him (Bendigo) back into competition after Saumur,” said Fredericks.

“We’ve started in a fairly good position – which isn’t a total surprise as he is a good horse and he does a good test.

“I think the competition arena is pretty amazing.  It doesn’t give you any different feeling to that of other arenas other than the fact that than you can see the London skyline, which is nice.

“I deliberately bought a horse that could be in contention for next year to have a little practice.  It’s always much easier coming back a second time to a venue and I’m enjoying what we’ve learned so far,” he said.

For Griffiths, he took a different approach competing with a lesser experience horse PAULANK BROCKAGH.

“My horse is not as experienced as the others out there but I was happy with how she went – she handled the atmosphere really well,” said Griffiths.

With his eyes firmly set on making his first ever Olympic Games team, Griffiths is soaking up all he can from the test event.

“I’ve been a reserve for the Olympic team for a few years but I’ve never made the team.  Hopefully I not only get in the team but also give it a good crack.

“I’m loving being involved in the Test event – I feel very lucky to be involved.  It’s great for us to be able to work with our coaches and them getting to see how we work.

“My horse I’m hoping to take to the Games (Happy Times) is in good form and he’s got a few bigger events coming up in the European Autumn,” he said.

Competition resumes tomorrow at 11.00am (local time) with the cross country.

For further details on the London Prepare Series visit http://www.londonpreparesseries.com/equestrian

For official images from the London Prepares Series visit www.gettyimages.com

Top ten results from Dressage:

1.       GBR       French, Piggy; DHI TOPPER W; 34.70 penalty points
2.       AUS       Fredericks, Clayton; BENDIGO; 40.90
3.       GER        Jung, Michael; RIVER OF JOY; 41.40
4.       SWE       Algotsson Ostholt, Sara; MRS MEDICOTT; 41.60
5.       GBR       Funnell, Pippa; BILLY SHANNON; 44.10
6.       GER        Auffarth, Sandra; PARANCS; 69.66
7.       GER        Ostholt, Frank; SIR MEDICOTT; 45.70
8.       BEL         Vanspringel, Joris; LIMESTONE; 46.50
9.       GBR       Fox-Pitt, William; GAUCHO; 46.70
10.   BEL         Caulier, Virginie; NEPAL DU SUNDRE; 48.80

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