- 16 Aug 08, 08:28 AM
Imagine a sport crying out for press coverage, a sport with a really great basic format, full of incident and excitement, a sport that used to be one of the most popular to watch on TV.
That sport is show jumping, so why therefore have the 'powers that be' made it so complicated? Why can't they stick to one team competition or 'Nations Cup' as it's called and then take the top 25 riders from that, zero their scores and qualify them for the individual a day later? Wouldn't that be simple?
Instead, it took three commentators, two text journalists, a TV executive and an actual rider arguing on and off for two days before we could come to a general consensus on the rules and format of this Olympics show jumping competition - and even then I fear some of us went away with the wrong idea!
By the time the first qualifying round started last night it was finally clear to us, but how many of you watching at home knew the first round's significance?
It didn't count towards any medals but basically, it decided the order for the team competition which starts on Sunday and the scores from all three first rounds will be added up to decide which riders did well enough to qualify for the Individual competition which takes place next Thursday. Got it?
As I said yesterday, Britain's Ben Maher has the right idea to just "try to jump clear in every round, that way I can't go wrong!" And that's exactly what he did; his horse Rolette looked in fantastic form.
Team GB came away with a clear from Nick Skelton and four faults each from Tim and John and that ranked them second overall - not that those scores count towards any medals unfortunately.
As for the rest, the Dutch looked on good form, the Germans were very relaxed - almost too relaxed as all but one of their riders had faults - and it was a surprisingly good night for the Australians. They're not exactly known for show-jumping success but one rider in particular, Laurie Lever, jumped really well.
Defending champion Rodrigo Pessoa from Brazil looked on dangerously good form too. The son of show jumping legend Nelson Pessoa is riding a different horse to the one he won gold on last time but the pair looked a very decent combination.
That's what I love about these games. You get to see great horse men and women you wouldn't normally see, particularly if you don't have cable TV, but nobody around me in the press tribune could tell me anything about Rodrigo's recent form. Most said they only see him at the Olympics.
So what does he do for the 3.9 years between each Olympics?! I will find out at some point and let you know.
It was an honour to have Michael Whitaker with me in the commentary box for part of last night's action. He is clearly really upset not to be riding and told me they still don't know what is causing his mare's lameness.
I don't know how riders deal with the disappointment of injuries like this, but Michael said he's found it easier as he's got older. "That's just horses," he said.
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