- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 31, 2012

LONDON — The queen’s granddaughter ZaraPhillips added to the family silver on Tuesday, helping team Britain to a second-place finish behind Germany in Olympic equestrian eventing.

Princes William and Harry and William’s wife Kate were in the stands to cheer on their cousin as she competed in the show jumping final portion of the three-discipline event. Phillips‘ mother, Princess Anne, watched as well — and then presented her daughter and the rest of the winners with their medals at the ceremony before horses and riders took a thunderous group victory lap around the Greenwich Park stadium.

After racing through the treacherous cross-country course without any penalties the day before, Phillips knocked down a rail on the second jump Tuesday. Teammate Nicola Wilson knocked down one as well, dashing Britain’s chances for gold.

Nevertheless, Phillips‘ combined score from three days of competition was low enough that she advanced to the individual show jump final Tuesday afternoon where she had a clean, penalty-free round.

She finished eighth individually out of an initial 75 riders at the start of the competition, with a score of 53.1. She pumped her fist in the air and took an extra lap around the ring to acknowledge the wild applause from the stands.

Germany went into the event atop the standings and maintained the lead throughout, ending with a final score of 133.7. Britain’s final score was 138.2, while New Zealand had 144.4. The United States was seventh with 208.6.

Michael Jung of Germany riding Sam won the individual gold with a score of 40.6 after incurring no penalties beyond his initial dressage score. Sara Algotsson Ostholt of Sweden riding Wega won the silver with 43.3 after knocking down the final fence in the individual jumping. Sandra Auffarth of Germany riding Opgun Luovo won the bronze with 44.8.

The individual medals were decided after a second jumping round following the team show jumping phase. In equestrian eventing the lowest penalty score wins. Eventing combines dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite do it,” Phillips said of the lost team gold. “We can’t be disappointed with a silver medal because it’s an amazing thing to be here.”

German rider Dirk Schrade on King Artus said he merely did what was required to help his country.

“That is the job I am expected to do,” he said. “If someone can’t do that, they don’t make the team.”

In the show jump phase of the team event, Phillips incurred four penalty points when her horse, High Kingdom, knocked down the second fence. He completed the rest of the course cleanly, albeit a bit over the 83-second limit. The crowd gasped when the rail came down but applauded wildly as she finished.

“It was my fault,” Phillips said. “After that he jumped fantastically.”

Phillips, a former world and European eventing champion who is 14th in line to the throne, said she had put High Kingdom in a tough takeoff spot as she approached the jump, leaving him little room to maneuver.

“I’m just disappointed for the team,” she said.

Britain’s William Fox-Pitt on Lionhart said the presence of royals in the stands didn’t affect Phillips or the rest of the team.

“Each of us is in our own bubble out there,” he said. “Her family is here to support her and our families are here to support us.”

As they did on Monday, William and Harry watched the competition from the VIP section of the equestrian arena, joined by Camilla, Prince Charles’ wife, and Princess Anne, herself an 1976 Olympian eventing competitor. Phillips‘ father, Capt. Mark Phillips, now coach of the U.S. eventing team, won team gold in 1972.

Several of the British and New Zealand team members curtsied when Anne presented them with their medals; the men shook hands or bowed slightly. Phillips got a kiss on each cheek from her mother.

Britain won eventing silver in the 2004 Athens games and bronze in 2008. Germany won gold in the 2008 Olympics and was in first place in Athens but dropped from medal contention after a technicality.

Phillips said she appreciated the effort her relatively inexperienced bay gelding gave her, given he lost two shoes during the arduous cross-country portion of the event on Monday.

Then, the 31-year-old granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II scored a penalty-free ride, negotiating High Kingdom over 28 obstacles and a slippery course that claimed a dozen fallen riders. Her score helped bring Britain into second place in the team standings behind Germany heading into the final portion of the event.

Some of the first horses out on the show jumping course looked tired, with several pulling down multiple fences and incurring time penalties beyond the 83 seconds allowed. But Fox-Pitt — the first British rider out — had a clean round, drawing raucous, foot-stomping cheers from the flag-waving hometown crowd.

The show jumping portion of eventing is designed to test the horse’s agility and ability to recover from the difficult run the day before. The lowest three scores for each team counted for the team total. The lowest 25 scores went to the individual jumping competition.

Margaret Freeman and Tom Curley contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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