Equestrian: Zara Phillips stars as Team GB strengthen gold medal bid with superb cross-country performances - Other events - Olympics - The Independent

Equestrian: Zara Phillips stars as Team GB strengthen gold medal bid with superb cross-country performances

 

Zara Phillips delivered a stunning performance in front of 50,000 people on her Olympics cross-country debut at Greenwich Park today to keep Great Britain firmly in medal contention.

The Queen's granddaughter was watched from the main arena stands by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cornwall - and she did not disappoint her audience.

The 31-year-old former world champion produced a clear round inside the time, completing a course that claimed its fair share of casualties.

Seven of the first 27 combinations fell and were eliminated, but Phillips kept supreme control all the way around a testing track that was very slippery in places.

Her team-mate Nicola Wilson also went clear inside the time aboard Opposition Buzz, while 51-year-old Mary King collected just 1.2 time penalties on Imperial Cavalier.

The British could not have hoped for better displays from their first three riders - and they still had former European champion Tina Cook and current world number one William Fox-Pitt to go.

Speaking after competing, Phillips said: "I am so happy. He is such a dude.

"He lost a front shoe, so he really stepped up. He was awesome - the course was very suitable for him."

Five combinations were clear inside the time as the competition entered its second half - Phillips, Wilson, Germany's Ingrid Klimke, Sweden's Sara Algotsson Ostholt and Australian Christopher Burton.

Phillips punched the air as she went through the finish to an ecstatic reception from an adoring crowd as she finished on her dressage score of 46.10.

Earlier, Canadian rider Hawley Bennett-Awad required medical attention after falling at fence three, with her condition described by organisers as "stable" while she underwent further assessment in an on-course ambulance.

Belgian Carl Bouckaert fell at the same fence, while Japan's Takayuki Yumira also parted company with his horse Latina, which required the horse being treated.

The combined effect meant that King and Imperial Cavalier were about 25 minutes late starting their round after Wilson had given the host nation a flying start.

The combination are regarded among the world's leading cross-country exponents, and they lived up to that billing.

The world and European team gold medallists delivered a brilliant round, finishing almost 12 seconds inside the time allowed of 10 minutes, three seconds.

An elated Wilson, who was called into the Olympic team after Piggy French's horse DHI Topper W suffered an injury last month, remained on her dressage score of 51.70 penalties.

Fans ran over to congratulate her after she finished finishing the course, some waving union flags. She pumped her hand in the air and waved.

"He was just unreal, what a fantastic horse," Wilson said.

"This is his favourite stage by far. When he gets to go cross-country day it's like all his birthdays and Christmases have come at once.

"He never fails to give me the wow factor."

King, meanwhile, utilised all her experience, kept concentration, and she completed the course with just 1.2 time penalties, taking her overall score to 42.10 and into the lead ahead of Burton despite being briefly held on course while Yumira's horse was attended to.

King danced with happiness when she looked up at the scoreboard and saw she was in the lead.

She ran over to kiss her daughter before speaking to journalists.

"It was a great place to be stopped, so it was an advantage to us really," King said.

"You can pick up the speed before they stop the stop watch that they've had running through your stoppage time.

"There was a nice straightforward fence ahead and I managed to gallop through it at a really nice stride"

Britain's dream day continued thanks to the efforts of Tina Cook and her double Olympic bronze medal winner Miners Frolic.

Cook matched the efforts of Wilson and Phillips in going clear inside the time and ensured the home favourites remained firmly on course for a possible gold medal.

The Sussex-based rider was just over five seconds inside the time as Miners Frolic continued his comeback from serious illness.

The horse nearly died last year after contracting colitis, and he only qualified for London in March when Cook took him to an event in Ireland.

As a protracted day neared its conclusion, Britain continued to pile the pressure on as Cook moved third individually.

And it meant Germany's reigning world champion Michael Jung needed to produce one of his finest displays to potentially prevent Britain from moving into gold medal position overnight.

PA

 

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week