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.

Ben Maher on Rolette

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.

Lizzie Greenwood-Hughes is a presenter on BBC Sportsround and Newsround, and BBC Radio 5 Live’s equestrian reporter. Our FAQs should answer any questions you have.


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  • 1. At 1:18pm on 16 Aug 2008, Rabster wrote:

    A "general concensus"? Little wonder people complain BBC standards are falling. Otherwise, fair point. :)

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  • 2. At 10:25pm on 16 Aug 2008, tollerdown wrote:

    Keep the blogs coming!
    How about those Canadians though? Ian Millar going for gold in his 9th Olympics and Eric Lamaze on Hickstead offering some stiff competition!!

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  • 3. At 2:11pm on 17 Aug 2008, Olympic_Fan wrote:

    great coverage of the olympics but where oh where is the show jumping i know we had the eventing which we enjoyed but it is not the same as show jumping

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  • 4. At 4:22pm on 17 Aug 2008, simonjgriffithshr wrote:

    I knew I could rely on the BBC. I couldn't for the life of me work out the exact details of the SJ either. The Olympics website was absolutely hopeless on this front (as it is on many others).

    So, if I've not got it right... The first round was qualification only, with no penalties going forward. Sunday/Monday was then team qualification, with the best teams going into the team final, bringing the penalties with them...

    Thanks for clearing up exactly what means what this week, it was driving me mad!

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  • 5. At 02:50am on 18 Aug 2008, GT wrote:

    I am British and live in Hong Kong (Over 18 years), and I attended Sunday Nights Event where 2 Riders and horses had bad falls, all four are ok now, and the British Team have pulled out, due to one of the horses having a problem, the commentary appraised them for good decision, as many other teams would have pushed the horse through. They Hong Kong Jockey Club is a bad host though, as they are focused on the money making and expansive membership, all the government money to build the facilities will only benefit the rich members, and Riders who are rich with member ship that is controlled by this gambling company will be able to enter any Olympic event, so when we look at the rules, I think a global review of all rules, especially around Horse riding and the Financial support system should be done, I am a Rider, and would like to Enter the Olympics, either as a British or for Hong Kong, but I fear the rules and the method of entry is so restrictive, that it takes away the drive to work harder to make it, because entry in controlled by a Monopoly minded company, rather than any form of qualification.

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  • 6. At 2:07pm on 18 Aug 2008, Susannah75 wrote:

    Why has everyone complained and 'ballotted' John Whitaker and Peppermill out of the team event? I'm surprised that there is hostility like this in equestrian sport. Surely the welfare of his horse was more important? Is it in the rules that a horse cannot compete in the second round if it has not jumped the first?

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