Embedded in Rio: Olympic Eventing Preview

Say "Ola!" to the Australian and New Zealand Eventing Teams
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Say "Ola!" to the Australian and New Zealand Eventing Teams
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It's almost time to sing out, "Game(s) on!" That's what Sherlock Holmes would say, if he was in Rio, The Jurga Report recentlydid some deductive detective work that would make Sherlock proud. The mission was to unlock the mystery of how to share these few early photos from the eventing teams setting up at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio and the Team New Zealand media day in Wales last week.

This first dispatch is shared via some ace photographers, with more to follow. 

Now, about the eventing: The FEI tells us that there will be 24 nations represented in this first of the equestrian disciplines at the Rio Olympics. Those 24 nations sent a variety of teams or individual competitors, plus there are traveling alternates, meaning that a total of 65 horses needed stalls. The team medals in this discipline will be divided between 13 nations that qualified their four-horse teams. Except for Russia, that is: the Russians sent a team of three horses and riders.

There is plenty of good information online about the equestrian park and stables. I recommend Kerri McGregor's blog for the Canadian team for her description and images of the venue.

In the photo above, these banners say it all, in any language! Below is the main stadium.

The spectators had better bring plenty of sunscreen!

Pippa Funnell, riding for Great Britain, took a stroll on the arena surface. Pippa, an Olympic veteran with many medals from previous Games, moved up in the team ranks when Izzy Taylor was forced to withdraw. Pippa will ride the gray Billy The Biz. The shift in the team meant the phone rang for Kristina Cook, who will ride Billy the Red, not to be confused with Pippa's mount. Tina has been representing Great Britain on the international stage since 1987. 

Christopher Burton (above) and Shane Rose (below) are both riding for Team Australia in eventing, but they took part in a press conference yesterday. When they arrived, they were happy with the venue and stabling, but not with their lodging in the Olympic Village. The plight of the Australians--and the stand they took has been covered by mainstream media, including NPR's coverage of this press conference.

Australian Olympic Team eventing rider Shane Rose talks while attending a press conference on July 31, 2016 in Rio.

Sir Mark Todd of the New Zealand Eventing Team for the 2016 Rio Olympics posed for a portrait during a Media Session in July in Chepstow, Wales. According to the FEI, Sir Mark will match the record held by Australia’s Andrew Hoy and the USA’s Mike Plumb for most Olympic appearances in Eventing. 

Rio 2016 will be his seventh Games, and he was also team trainer at Athens 2004. Todd won back-to-back gold medals at the Games in Seoul (KOR) in 1988 and Barcelona (ESP) in 1992. He also competed in both eventing and show jumping.

They call it a "head collar', we call it a halter. Whatever you call it, the nameplate was sparkling for Sir Mark Todd's horse Leonidas II, a 12-year-old, 16.1-hand bay, German-bred gelding. Leonidas II has been a consistent performer for Todd at 3* and 4* level and was a member of the New Zealand team that traveled to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Championships in Normandy in 2014. He has twice placed fourth at Badminton (GBR) and is regularly in the top 10 at events.

Jonelle Price of the New Zealand Eventing Team for the 2016 Rio Olympics posed for a portrait with her horse Faerie Dianimo during the team's Media Session last month in Chepstow, Wales. Jonelle will ride the British-bred Faerie Dianimo in Rio. They just placed seventh at the CHIO in Aachen (GER). In 2014 Jonelle won the CIC3* class for eight and nine-year-olds at Blenheim (GBR), starting a run of great results, including fourth in the CCI4* at Pau (FRA) and second in the CCI4* at Luhmuhlen (GER). She was on the bronze-medal winning team at the London 2012 Olympics, and shares team space with her husband, Tim, who will ride Ringwood Sky Boy.

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Thanks to Team New Zealand and Diana Dobson for data on the New Zealand riders (more to come), and to the FEI for overall data.

Special thanks to Getty Images and the Getty herd of photographers on the ground in Rio capturing spectacular images like these for us all. I have embedded the photos so you can share any or all of them on your social media. Just hover over the image and click the symbol of your favorite platform. The code will do the rest!