A thrilling and highly nail-biting cross-country round by Mary King has further enhanced Britain’s chances of a medal at London 2012.

The 51 year-old rider, competing in her sixth Olympics, completed the course just a little outside the allowed time, picking up just 1.20 penalties. She currently stands second behind Ingrid Klimke, and although there are many more riders still to take to the Greenwich Park course, she is highly likely to improve on her overall individual position.

Furthermore, she has pole-vaulted Team GB into an enviable position, with riders from leading fancies Germany and Australia still to compete. Britain also has three riders to come.

King’s round was a dramatic one, as the ever popular rider set off quickly, aiming to complete within the 10 minutes 3 seconds limit.

Fence 3 was the first test and had proved difficult for some of the previous riders. King showed how it should be done however, getting Imperial Cavalier over the obstacle in a perfect line which she was seeking before she had even turned the corner leading into the fence.

She went for a long stride at the Chess Table fence and her mount responded beautifully. Yet, there was a fairly hairy moment at the 14th fence and after getting in close to the Tower of London jumps, the heart was pounding.

A smooth clearance of the second water jump calmed the nerves once more but the tension began to build again as the duo were stopped owing to a faller ahead. Whether they needed it or not, King and Imperial Cavalier were given a breather.

Perhaps it came at the best possible time, with a punishing hill to climb immediately after it. Upon recommencing, Imperial Cavalier’s stride continued to look strong and powerful, but, at the next jump, he got in close again.

However, that was the final tough jump on tough terrain and with obstacles purely on the flat to go, spectators could afford a sigh of relief.

One of the final obstacles was the Cricket Bats, which had caused some fallers previously. Imperial Cavalier jumped it superbly and King was emphatic at the following corner hedges, getting over them on a perfect line.

Having been stopped and restarted, Mary King would not have known her time, but she completed in a more than honourable 10 minutes and 6 seconds.

James Muir

Image courtesy of The Telegraph