|LONDON, UK — The United States Show Jumping team was off to a strong start at the London Olympic Games until disaster struck. Beezie Madden, the team’s anchor rider aboard Coral Reef Ranch’s Via Volo, was eliminated in the First Individual Qualifier.|
Madden was preceded by McLain Ward on Antares F and FEI World Cup Champion Rich Fellers aboard Flexible, both of whom were fault-free, as well as teenage phenom Reed Kessler, who had 1 time fault on Cylana.
Going next-to-last in the field of 75, Madden was having a perfect trip aboard the soaring Via Volo until she reached the ninth of 12 fences, the double combination commemorating the 1908 and 1948 Olympics, both of which were also held in London.
Madden and her mare had a disagreement as to whether 9A should be reached in seven strides or a quiet eight, and Via Volo jumped so far left that Madden had no choice but to circle her and try the combination again.
Via Volo cleared 9A but put on the brakes at 9B, eliciting gasps from the crowd of more than 20,000. That second refusal eliminated Madden from today’s competition, though she will be able to take part in the Nations Cup for team medals, which begins tomorrow. Madden's score to carry forward individually is the highest score after this class plus 20 for a total of 42, which dashes her hopes for an individual medal.