Cross-country site wins plaudits from competitors
Riders impressed by Beas River
Anna Junkmann unhooked the strap on her helmet and exposed her neck. On proud display was a temporary tattoo - a black horse with a red rider drawn in sleek elegant strokes.
'I quite like this,' the German rider said of the logo for the Good Luck Beijing - HKSAR 10th Anniversary Cup.
After Junkmann finished yesterday's cross-country competition at Beas River, she said she was proud to be the first rider to tackle the course at the Olympic site.
It was another day of steady drizzle, but the cooler temperatures meant the heat and humidity was less of a factor in the demanding cross-country competition.
With the weather less of an issue for horses and riders, the focus switched to the terrain. Germany's Dirk Schrade was impressed.
'For this much rain it is amazing how good the ground is,' he said.
John Young, whose daughter Amanda led the British team with sixth place on Highville, was also full of praise for the course.
'The drainage is amazing to get rid of this amount of water,' he said. 'The course is beautifully presented. It's all very jumpable, but it poses enough questions to make it testing.'
Heading into tonight's showjumping - the final competition in three-day eventing - Germany's Frank Ostholt, riding After The Battle, is in first place. Ostholt, who was fourth after Saturday's dressage, was the only rider to complete the course without a time penalty.
Schrade, who is riding Grand Amour, fell to second after the cross-country and Australia's Shane Rose, riding Statford Novalis, is third.
Junkmann is in seventh place.
To complete the 4km course, the overseas riders took two loops and for some, the experience was unusual and the results unexpected. There were a lot of twists and turns - some riders describing the course as too tight and wanting more chances to gallop and ride a more fluid line - something they will be able to do during the actual Olympics.
The real surprise came, however, with the double loop.
'After we were at the finish line, my horse didn't understand why he was on the course again,' Sweden's Anna Hilton explained of Mr Spiritus.
Ostholt, however, felt there was no problem in riding the course twice, comparing the experience to cross-country schooling.
'I do a lot of cross-country training and I am used to jumping the fences more than once,' he said.
Beas River will undergo another transformation for the Olympics, when the course is extended to 5.7km.
Instead, of making two passes of the same course, the riders will make one pass and a clover-leaf-shaped section will be added.
With two thirds of the three-day event complete, observers from the official delegations have begun the process of evaluating their preparations for next year.
Yogi Breisner, the British eventing manager, said there were 'so many different eventualities to prepare for'.
Various teams felt that they had experienced a wide variety of the weather conditions which could be considered normal for this time of year.