Top ride but Andrew Nicholson still steaming
New Zealand No 1 Andrew Nicholson blew off some steam with a world class cross-country ride but he still had plenty coming out of his ears afterward.
The world No 2 produced one of the rides of the day on a Greenwich Park layout that proved tougher than most expected, going clear and a whopping nine seconds inside the allotted time as New Zealand set themselves up for a medal challenge in tomorrow's final phase, the showjumping.
They are two points behind third-placed Sweden and 3.2 off second-placed Britain. Germany have a 5.5-point lead but with four points for a dropped rail, anything can happen.
Nicholson, who is probably out of individual contention despite his stunning ride which lifted him from 21st after the dressage to ninth overall, is still fuming over a late 10-minute weather delay in yesterday's dressage that knocked his horse Nereo off stride and contributed to a middling test.
"No, I won't forgive them (the grand jury) for what they did yesterday," he steamed.
"I expected to go clear and fast today and I expect to jump two clear rounds tomorrow. I didn't expect to be handicapped in dressage.
"What they did yesterday, to me, was a disgrace, but I'm very, very pleased with today. Nereo is fabulous to ride and he did what he thought he has to do in any competition he goes to.
"This (cross-country) is the horse's speciality and my speciality, but for sure I was fired up yesterday and I haven't got over it yet."
Nicholson is widely regarded as the best judge of time in the world – he often completes the cross-country within a second of the allotted time, meaning no penalties and the minimum effort extended.
But he seemed determined to ride as hard and fast as he could today and his combination with Nereo was majestic.
"He's the best jumper I've ever had," he said, looking ahead to tomorrow.
"Showjumping is one of those things, if you rub a pole a bit too hard it falls down and you get four penalties, but if he jumps and I ride him like I normally do I think we'll have a good time."
He said the Kiwis, who all have good jumping horses, were "as confident as we can be".
"Mark's a little bit on the back foot with (Campino) because it hasn't got anywhere near the mileage that (Jock Paget's horse Clifton Promise) or Nereo has got, but he's a genius.
"We'll give him plenty of advice – he probably won't want to hear it – but we'll give it to him and hopefully we'll help him pick it up and carry us the last bit.
"He'll give it 100 per cent. It's a hard job for Mark on a young horse, but he's the man to have on it."