"A horse/a horse/my kingdom for a horse," was Richard III's lament and it could well be the plaint of Coach Bertrand deNemethy of the United States Equestrian Team as he surveys the squad's chances in the jumping phase of the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Blessed with an overabundance of world-class riders, the USET now must come up with the horses to match.
At the close of the 1978 international campaign, deNemethy said the results "clearly indicate that the United States is a strong and growing contender in the equestrian world . . .our selection and training process has developed a strong nucleus of worldclass riders, but our weakness continues to be the lack of depth in horses . . ."
The most up-to-date indicator of U.S. prowess came in the Volvo-World Cup competition at Goteborg, Sweden, in April. While Hugh Simon of Austria was the winner, Katie Monahan, riding Washington International Horse Show winner The Jones Boy, was second after a jumpoff.
Seven of the American riders placed in the top 16, causing a wellknown journalist who has followed international jumping for a decade to praise the outstanding performances.He also pointed out that while six of the seven U.S. riders were amateurs, at least half the Europeans were professionals and ineligible for the Olympics.
Besides Monahan, those most often mentioned for places on the squad are Mike Matz, Dennis Murphy, Melanie Smith, Buddy Brown, Scott Nederlander an dConrad Homfeld.
Worldwide, the West Germans seem to be going through rebuilding after the era of the Schockemoehle brothers (Alwin was 1976 Olympic goldmedal winner); the French are always powerful and always manage to surprise (1976 team winners at Montreal); while Great Britain; Canada, Ireland, Holland and Belgium are loaded with talent. In individual ability, Austria, Italy and Switzerland have the proverbial "few but select."
Reports have the Soviets putting on a drive to make a good showing at home, but as yet there is little indication that they, or any other of the Eastern bloc nations, will prove a threat to the traditional powers.
Unlike deNemethy, Jack Le Goff of the Three Day Team only smiles when asked about the chances of the Americans in that demanding phase of Olympic equestrian competition.
The U.S. will be the defending Olympic champion at Moscow and Ted Coffin will be the defending individual gold medal winner.
In addition, back-to-back world championships by Bruce Davidson, the last at Lexington, Ky., last fall, indicate that the U.S. will be the team to beat. The U.S. placed third behind Canada and Germany at Lexington but won the title at Burghley, England in 1974.
Davidson, Coffin, veterans Mike Plumb and Jim Wofford, plus newcomer Mary Ann Tausky, should be the favorites at Moscow with the closest competition coming from Great Britain, Canada and West Germany.
Unfortunately, the outlook in the third phase of the Olympic equestrian competition is not too bright. Dressage, long the province of the West Germans, Austrians and the Swiss, is not an American strongpoint.
The development of United States dressage riders and horses has been steady but slow. In a move to upgrade the caliber of the team, European trainers have been invited to come to the United States and work with selected riders and horses. The first, Mille Van Bruggan, the Dutch-born master, will arrive this summer to coach the team for the Pan American games.