It is the horseman's nature to expect disaster and, with Australia entering the final day of team eventing in the gold medal position, the nation's best equestrian, Chris Burton, said: "Going into pole position is hard. It brings real pressure with it."
Burton's nine-year-old gelding, Santano 11, hit two rails in the final ride of the team event, relegating Australia to a bronze medal, behind France who won gold and Germany silver.
Had Burton rode a perfect round, Australia would have won gold; had he clipped just one rail, he would have been standing on the podium with his team mates, receiving silver.
But a fallen rail counts for four points, meaning his penalty tally of eight, together with his two mates, Stuart Tinney and Sam Griffiths, errors brought the total to 175.3, behind France on 169 and Germany with 172.8.
Eventing charts its own course. It pays no heed to predetermined narratives, historical precedents or odds on favourites.
Australia has a rich history in the team event, winning gold at every Olympic in the period from Barcelona in 1992 to Sydney in 2000.
Hopes were high Australia's team would better the silver in Beijing and team can at least take consolation a bronze is better than sixth place at the London Olympics.
Think of eventing as a four day triathlon, consisting of dressage which is run over two days, cross country and show jumping on the final day, where the equestrian must ride the same horse in all events.
While equestrian is perceived to be a privileged, anachronistic sport, it one of the very Olympic disciplines which is gender equal, with men and women competing in the same event.
While Burton clipped two rails, his ride was not as costly as Australia's first rider of the day, Stuart Tinney. His 18 year old gelding, Pluto Mio, the oldest in the competition, brought down four rails in the second half of his round, together with incurring a time penalty for a loss of 17 points, dropping Australia from leader overnight to the sixth in the progressive scoring.
A disappointed Tinney said, "I wished I'd ridden the second half of the round they way I'd ridden the first half of the round.
"The horse got affected by the crowd, distracted by the noise of the arena. He needed to focus on the fences and listen to me a liitle bit more."
Sam Griffiths and Pauland Brockagh, a 13 year old mare, entered the arena, having watched a New Zealander take his country to first position. Griffiths, a dual Olympian, responded to the challenge with a flawless round, although one rail shivered, without falling. His perfect ride lifted Australia to second position.
It was perfectly timed ride by a fit racehorse and a gifted rider working as one.
Afterwards, he said, "It was a real pressure situation. I was thrilled to go clear in an Olympics. The team competition is very tight and I needed to go clear."
Delighted with his horse, he said, "I just had to tell her when to go."
Asked about the conditions, where the arena and heat conspire to make it feel like working in a wok, Griffiths said, "The course is very tough. You've got to go fast. The horses don't jump as high.
"I had a bit of luck with a rub on one of the rails."
With the French and German teams in strong positions and their better riders yet to compete, he admitted there was furious tallying of the individual and team points.
"There's maths going on everywhere," he said. "I've got my fingers crossed. In fact, I've got everything crossed."
Asked how Australia's final rider, Burton, would fare, he said, "Chris is on an experienced horse. He is No. 2 in the world at the moment, a ranking that is no fluke.
"Chris will be concentrating on what he has to do."
Unfortunately, the concentration of horse and rider in the tense conditions could not match Griffith's perfect ride. Burton said, "I'm disappointed. But the horse has just been outstanding. Today, the young horse showed his experience. I'm not disappointed in him. He is a little super-star.
"There's plenty more to come."
Perhaps. But probably not for Pluti Mio. There is not too much to look forward to as an 18-year-old gelding.
Eventing coach Prue Barrett says Australia's three-day eventing team bronze medal is "a true team effort".
"We came for a medal and we got one," she says. "They all helped each other and the medal's the result of a champion team effort."
Australia was determined to return to the podium after a disappointing sixth placing in London 2012.
High performance manager Chris Webb said the medal was three years in the making.
"There have been ups and downs and we were disappointed for Shane [Rose, who was eliminated during the cross country stage of the event] but we said we'd win together and lose together and that's what we've done," an elated Webb said from the equestrian centre outside Rio.