Superb Jonty Evans show lifts Ireland

Ireland eventing rider Jonty Evans was in high spirits last night after a superb dressage display left him provisional ninth in the individual standings and helped Ireland to fifth place in the battle for team honours.

“I’m delighted and so proud of the horse; we’ve been together a good while, we know each other really well and he totally trusted me today and did all I could have hoped,” said 44-year-old Evans last night after great canter work in particular put him on an impressive 41.80 penalties, as attention today turned to the crucial cross-country phase.

“I’m so excited to be a small part of helping the team be in the position we are in. The team spirit is really strong and the team behind us have been incredible, said the Cotswalds-based rider.

Dressage is traditionally the weak link in the Irish armour, but it was not evident at the weekend, as two of Evans’s team-mates pulled off personal bests: Tipperary’s Padraig McCarthy scored 46.80 penalties on the gelding Simon Porloe, putting him 26th, while Clare Abbott followed suit with 47.00pens on Euro Prince to lie equal 29th overnight.

Mark Kyle and Jemilla earned 50.40pens, ending the day 45th of the 65 competitors.

Ireland’s 135.60 total puts them just 13.60 behind leaders and defending champions Germany. France are in the silver medal position on 122.20, followed by Australia (126.40) and Britain (127.70).

Britain’s William Fox-Pitt heads the individual rankings with Chilli Morning, having come back from a devastating fall 10 months ago that saw him put into an induced coma.

McCarthy said: “It was a very solid start for the team.

“It was very hot and also yesterday, but Monday is supposed to be cooler, thankfully. It’s a testing cross-country track, but we are all very focused and positive.”

The course facing the riders has been rated the toughest for many years, but sore muscles for tomorrow’s show jumping will also play a part.

Meanwhile, the equestrian media corps got a surprise on Saturday, when a bullet cut through the roof of their tent. It is believed to have come from a nearly military base.

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