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Oatleys start well in dressage
Roger Vaughan
09:11 AEST Fri Aug 3 2012

Kristy Oatley put a bitter selection controversy behind her when she and her cousin Lyndal gave Australia a promising start in the teams dressage competition at the London Olympics on Thursday.

Lyndal was ranked 15th out of 24 riders with her score of 69.377 while Kristy's 68.222 left her in 19th position.

Another 26 riders, including third Australian competitor Mary Hanna, will have their Grand Prix heats on Friday.

The top seven nations progress to the next round and the Australians appear well-placed.

Just competing was a relief for Kristy after she was at the centre of a selection controversy ahead of the Games.

She was picked ahead of Hayley Beresford, who appealed against her non-selection and claimed double standards.

Oatley heaved a big sigh once the ride was over and she patted her horse Clive vigorously, her body language full of relief.

"It's over with - been out there, done it," the two-time Olympian said.

"It's been difficult, most definitely, with all the ... commotion, what's been going on and, of course, the unnecessary focus on myself.

"(It) doesn't help one focus properly or prepare, but I've tried to block everything out and concentrate on my horse."

There were unsubstantiated allegations of selection bias, with Oatley's grandfather Bob Oatley a major benefactor in the sport.

The cousins were pleased with their opening heats.

Kristy's horse Clive did well despite coughing during the routine - not great in a sport where poise is paramount.

The tense nature of the competition was emphasised just before Lyndal (Sandro Boy) had her heat.

Canadian David Marcus was eliminated because his horse Capital became spooked.

A heavy shower hit Greenwich Park only minutes before Lyndal's heat.

But the Australian rode in clear weather, which was a pleasant change.

Sandro Boy has the nickname "Storm Boy" because they have regularly lucked out with the weather in competitions.

"It's about time I stay dry at an event," she said.

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