Eventing in Rio is finally underway, with the first horse inspection, aka the trot-up, held in bright sunshine and hot temperatures even at the early hour of 8.30am. Some of the team uniforms were just as bright!
Most looked very smart, especially our New Zealand team, and others are best described as ‘what were they thinking?’
Stand-outs were the Australians! If we were awarding prizes for uniforms, they would definitely get it with their jaunty striped blazers, yellow and green striped ties, and beige trousers or skirt, and the winning touch was the green shoes. Reserve rider Sammi Birch added a bit of extra flair with the Australian scarf instead of a tie.
The New Zealanders were sleek in their all-black kit with crisp white shirts, and the pounamu pendants given to them by NZ Olympic Committee drew lots of comments.
The Italians were – naturally – a sight to behold, and would not have been out of place on the catwalks of Milan! But then what do you expect when your uniforms are designed by Emporia Armani?
The Swedish team had two misfortunes. First, one of their riders, Anna Nilsson, had to pull out her horse Luron due to a throat infection. It gives the green light to reserve Linda Algotsson with Fairnet, who will now join her sister Sarah Algotsson-Ostholt in the team. The second misfortune was having to wear their uniform. While Ludwig Svennerstal normally rocks some fabulous outfits, today he had to make do with a fairly standard one, and the three women really suffered, having to wear very bright yellow dresses. It was like an Abba flashback! Luckily they are all Scandanavian beauties, and therefore can make (almost) anything look chic.
The British took a decidedly un-British casual approach to their uniform, but it was ideal for the conditions and they looked great in their shorts with very bright orange running shoes.
The Dutch women were cool and sophisticated in cream shift dresses and a lovely rust-coloured jackets. The men’s suits were unusual, but stylish.
There were some interesting sunglasses being rocked down the trot-up track, too. Ingrid Klimke’s were the standout.
Some riders – including the German team – added to the occasion by having their horses’ browbands decorated in their country’s colours (check out Hale Bob’s one above).
There wasn’t a big crowd to watch, but the Johnstone family (parents Rob and Jean with Clarke’s sister Grace) were on hand to see their son get through.
I also had proud Italian mama Mrs Roman standing next to me to watch her two sons Luca and Pietro present their horses to the Ground Jury. Both passed and she was relieved: “Yes, I am proud twice, but I have twice the suspense,” she exclaimed (please read that with an Italian accent!).
New Zealand’s Helen Christie was spotted doing her official stewarding duties, ensuring the horses were correctly lined up for their runs.
Another proud Kiwi moment was seeing NZ stationbred Just Chocolate looking very smart for his Japanese rider Ryuzo Kitajima. This horse was originally produced in New Zealand by Karen Niederer and Sarah Varley, who took him to two-star before Donna Smith took over the ride and brought him on to three-star. So Donna has the kudos of having a hand in producing two of Rio’s Olympic horses (the other, of course, being Balmoral Sensation).
One horse was sent to the hold box; the sole representative from Spain, Albert Hermosa Farras with Hito HP. He came back after all the other horses had finished and was duly passed by the Ground Jury.
There was a little bit of a fright for the New Zealand team when Jock Paget was asked to trot Clifton Lush again. Jock duly obliged and the Ground Jury reciprocated by giving Lush the nod of approval – though of course Lush was subsequently pulled out of the competition.