IN TRUE fighting spirit Australia's eventing team has produced a sensational performance on cross country day at the 2014 World Equestrian Games (WEG), to move from ninth place into bronze medal position.
After losing team mate Chris Burton prior to the start of competition (due horse illness), the pressure was on for the remaining five Aussie riders to get around cross country clear - a tall order for what has been described as one of the 'toughest four star courses seen in recent years'.
In the team's competition, Australia was one of only six countries to have all starters successfully get round the course and finish, with a third of the field wiped out due to falls or retiring of the horse. Of the 87 starters, only 63 made it home.
For Olympian Shane Rose, today was as much about the team result as well as Redemption from the 2012 Olympics, with his horse Taurus finally getting the chance to represent Australia after it was withdrawn in London due to injury.
"He's (Taurus) never run on anything even remotely like that but he's a super cross country horse and I'm very pleased with him.
"At one point I didn't think we'd get home, I really didn't cope with the ground and I started to panic a little.
"He struggled to get across the ground. But once he got over the double brushes he figured out how to get around and he got a second wind.
"We had to get him home because unfortunately we are down a member so it was very important to get through those finish flags," said Rose.
Fellow Olympian Stuart Tinney also pulled out a stellar ride with Pluto Mio to finish in the top 10, the combination the best ranked Aussies at the end of the day. While Stuart rides as an individual and his score doesn't count towards the team position, his performance still puts him within reach of a medal.
"It was hard to keep going. The ground got particularly bad in some spots but he (Pluto Mio) was great, he dug deep and jumped really well.
"The crowd helped him at the last water jump, they got involved and he pricked his ears and off he went. He rose to the occasion and the crowd cheered," said Tinney.
There was no taking away from any of the Australian's performances today. Sam Griffiths (Paulank Brockagh) backed up his 2014 Badminton winning performance to lead the team out in style, followed by Australian team debutant Bill Levett (aged 53) with Shannondale Titan making his first representative appearance one to remember. The final rider of the day Paul Tapner (Kilronan), known for his flamboyance in cross country, delivered a smart and calculated ride to ensure his points counted to the overall team standing.
At the end of the cross country the preliminary results have Australia sits in the bronze medal position on 226.8 penalties, behind Germany (177.9) and Great Britain (186.8). Final results will be found at http://www.normandy2014.com/2014-games/the-disciplines/3/eventing#results
Tomorrow's jumping final will require the Aussies to dig deep to ensure they can finish on the podium, with each rail to male all the difference.
The final day of eventing competition gets underway at 2.30pm (local time).
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