The Tipperary rider and the big-jumping Lantinus have shown in the previous three rounds they are more than capable of tackling the challenging technical courses.
Lynch qualified for today’s 35-rider final in eighth place, picking up single time faults in each of the first two rounds, with his first jumping faults in Monday’s third qualifier when the 10-year-old gelding stood on the tape at the water jump.
Lynch was not in any way concerned, the error coming as he concentrated on countering the enthusiasm of the brilliant Lantinus, while at the same time “keeping some in the tank” for today’s final.
Lynch, making his Olympic bow in Hong Kong, was typically nonplussed as he contemplated the challenge facing him today. Anxious as usual to get down to business, he said: “I’m just waiting for the start bell to go. We’ll be giving it our best shot.”
The 32-year-old and Lantinus, owned by Swiss millionaire Thomas Straumann, have not touched a pole in the run-up to today’s showcase and, as such, are rightly viewed as contenders. However, they are not alone.
Tony Hansen, trained by former Irish Army show jumper Gerry Mullins, is an unlikely member of this group, but with Camiro, the Norwegian rider – ranked 90 in the world — finished top of the leaderboard after the three qualifying rounds.
The favourite has to be world champion Jos Lansink of Belgium. With the stallion Cumano back to his best after injury, this pairing, like Hansen, finished the three rounds with only time faults.
Double team gold medallist Mclain Ward of the US and the 13-year-old Sapphire had one rail down in the third qualifier, but it was back to foot-perfect in the jump-off to help secure the team victory.
Australia’s Edwina Alexander and Itot du Chateau demonstrated their potential, being the only pair to deliver two fault-free rounds in the team contest, while Alexander has the experience of finishing fourth in the 2006 World Championships.
Others in with a shout are team silver medalist Eric Lamaze from Canada, Britain’s Ben Maher, defending gold medallist Rodrigo Pessoa of Brazil and Rufus, while American-born German Meredith Michael-Beerbaum and the brilliant Shutterfly cannot be dismissed.
The competitors will have one initial objective, to be the top 20 into the second round. Equality of faults after the two rounds will result in a third-round jump-off.