The New Zealand eventing team's mood was about as dark as the thunder clouds threatening Greenwich Park before Mark Todd's dressage test.
The day hadn't gone well - Caroline Powell and Andrew Nicholson had struggled for different reasons - and New Zealand were struggling, not only in the team standings; they didn't have an individual in the top 15.
That all changed in four minutes.
Todd has won many titles - two Olympic gold medals, four Badminton crowns and five Burghley titles among them - and many accolades (the international eventing federation even named him the rider of the 20th century) and he might now dream of another Olympic title after riding his mount, Campino, into contention after the dressage.
There's a belief some of the top riders are judged more leniently in dressage than others because of who they are but it's unquestionable Todd put in a classy display.
"Mark is a genius," New Zealand coach Eric Duvander said.
"He's one in a million. He is just so competitive and so skilful.
"He works harder than most people in the world in general and has a great spirit. He loves horses. It's a fantastic mix."
His combination with Campino also shows considerable promise. The horse is nine, young by eventing standards, and only 12 months ago was at two-star class (the Olympics is a four-star event).
It's hard to believe anyone else would have got him up to the standard required to be an Olympic contender in such a short time and, as corny as it sounds after the Robert Redford film, some have called him a horse whisperer.
"This was a very good example of that; to pull the horse's absolute best performance out on the day at the Olympics," Duvander said.
Todd had a feeling Campino would be the horse he was going to ride in London and it was confirmed when his top mount, Land Vision, was injured in May.
It saw world No 2 Andrew Nicholson installed as New Zealand's best medal hope in the individual competition, and he might still have been if a thunderstorm hadn't hit the dressage arena just before his test and prompted a highly unusual 10-minute weather delay.
It cost a furious Nicholson valuable points as he struggled to keep a fidgety Nereo composed and almost certainly cost him an elusive individual medal.
The seven-time Olympian is still in contention in the team's competition but, with Powell and Jonelle Richards well down the field, it has heaped pressure on Nicholson, Jonathan Paget and Todd to have good cross country rides. The top three riders from each country count.
It wasn't looking so promising before Todd's dressage, which was a huge fillip to the team, and thoughts shifted to whether he would produce a clear round in the cross country.
It's traditionally been New Zealand's strength but the true difficulty of the course won't be known until the first few riders have navigated it.
Todd had the luxury of going last in New Zealand's strongest discipline.
"I've known Mark for a long time now and he thrives on that pressure," Duvander said.
He also loves the Olympics. It's part of the reason he came out of retirement to compete at Beijing in 2008 and, even at 56, says he is "thinking" about going to his eighth Games in Rio in 2016.
"What keeps me going is the fact I am highly competitive," Todd said recently. "I love winning, I love being part of a team and I love being at the Olympic Games. I still desperately want to win."
He has given himself every chance of that with his dressage ride.
- APNZBy Michael Brown Email Michael