Germany takes equestrian lead amid spills and surprises

A determined German assault and a tough cross-country course on Monday helped turn the tables on the confident Australians in the three-day event of the Olympic equestrian competition.

Germany takes equestrian lead amid spills and surprises
Photo: DPA

The five-man German team moved into top spot over the Australians after a day of thrills, spills and surprises that saw one medal hopeful crash out and the field left wide open going into the final component of the competition. The strong showing by the Germans also saw two of the team move to first and second in the individual rankings.

Hinrich Romeike, riding Marius, was number one, on 50.20 penalty points, with teammate Ingrid Klimke, who rode Abraxxas, behind him on 50.70. Klimke said the course – the shortest in Olympic history at 4,560 metres with an optimum time of eight minutes – had proved the challenge she’d expected.

“I wished it was longer than eight minutes because it went so quickly,” she said after completing the 39 jumps at the Beas River course in eight minutes 43 seconds, with 17.20 time penalties added on.

“I wished to go again because it was so much fun,” she said.

That can-do attitude suffused the German team, riding high on 158.10 points after knocking the Australians into second on 162.00. None of the riders completed the course in eight minutes. Australia’s Shane Rose was fastest round in 8 minutes 23 seconds, with 9.20 time penalties added.

Australians Megan Jones, on Irish Jester, and Clayton Fredericks, on Ben Along Time, were in third and fourth place respectively in the individual rankings. But Lucinda Fredericks, wife of Clayton, was bumped down to eleventh place after leading the field following Sunday’s dressage event.

Great Britain’s team was in third place on 173.70 points after the cross country, with May King on Call Again Cavalier fifth in the individual rankings on 56.10. The three-and-a-half-hour event took place in unrelenting drizzle in the New Territories near Hong Kong’s northern border with China.

Many fences were designed to incorporate Chinese characteristics, and included a Great Wall, chopsticks, a traditional courtyard house, and a pagoda and birdcages, both of which seemed to pose the greatest problems.

A thick underlay of sand aimed to absorb the innate moisture of the terrain – seconded from a golf course for the Olympics – and ensured the course, while presenting a physical and mental challenge, was as safe as possible.

As it was, eight riders were eliminated, but no injuries were sustained by horse or rider.

The biggest upset was US medal hope Amy Tryon, riding Poggio II – with whom she won individual bronze at the World Equestrian Games in 2006. They fell at the birdcages.

New Zealand’s Andrew Nicholson, aboard Lord Killinghurst, was another upset elimination, along with the inexperienced local favourite Alex Hua Tian of China, Igor Atrohov of Russia, Jaroslav Hatla of the Czech Republic and Sergio Iturriaga of Chile.


Germany toughens China travel warning over ‘invasive’ Covid tests

Germany has toughened its advisory against travel to China, warning that travellers could be placed under hospital quarantine for weeks upon arrival and subjected to "invasive" medical tests even if they have previously recovered from the coronavirus.

Germany toughens China travel warning over 'invasive' Covid tests
A plane flying from Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

In its latest travel advisory update, the Foreign Ministry said that the stringent measures were imposed on “people cured of Covid-19”, as well as others who test positive for antibodies because of an undetected illness, or others who had arrived on the same flight and who test positive for the coronavirus.

“Medical measures applied by the Chinese side are invasive and include in part daily blood tests and computer scans,” the Foreign Ministry said.

All travellers arriving in China are required to serve a 14-day quarantine at a location determined by the government.

While small children are “as a rule” allowed to spend their quarantine with their parents, those aged 14 years and up can be placed in isolation away from their family.

The Süddeutsche newspaper reported that the ministry had heightened its warning after two German nationals were held in hospital quarantine for several weeks.

Both had recovered from the coronavirus previously and had tested positive for antibodies, added the report, noting that they were nevertheless forced to undergo medical tests.

The newspaper said the Foreign Ministry had filed protests with the Chinese government over how the two Germans were treated.