LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Mario Deslauriers and American teammate McLain Ward held the top two spots after the speed round of the jumping competition at the World Equestrian Games on Monday.
Hungary's Sandor Szasz, competing at this level for the first time, was third.
"Obviously we are all nervous going in," said Deslauriers, a two-time Canadian champion who now rides for the U.S. "I went about four or five hours earlier than [Ward] did so there was more pressure on him. My horse is very quick. He looks a bit deceiving when you watch him go. I was very happy with him, and he jumped fantastic."
Much like it sounds, the speed competition requires a horse and rider clear a set of jumps in the fastest time and with no penalties. Deslauriers, Ward, and Szasz all had clean rounds, but Deslauriers had the fastest time. He completed the 13 jumps in 71.25 seconds, while Ward -- an Olympic gold medalist -- went in 71.79 and Szasz finished in 73.24.
"[The course] was challenging from the beginning to the end," said Ward, who rides a 15-year-old mare named Sapphire. "I have a horse with a lot of experience who is pretty predictable. She performed great. It is a long week, and I was very happy with how she felt."
The speed round serves as the first day of the team competition. The United States is in the lead, while Germany is in second and France third. It is also a qualifier for the individual competition.
Team jumping continues Tuesday and Wednesday, while the individual competition is scheduled for Friday and Saturday.
The World Equestrian Games will conclude Sunday.