Category Archives: Olympic Games

History-Making Egyptians Win Olympic Jumping Qualifier in Rabat

The Egyptian team of Mohamed Taher Zeyada, Nayel Nassar, Abdel Said, and Sameh El Dahan, with Chef d’Equipe Eng Hesham Hatab. (FEI/Jessica Rodriguez)

Qatar also claims Tokyo ticket

The Egyptian side of Mohamed Taher Zeyada, Nayel Nassar, Abdel Said, and Sameh El Dahan won the Group F Olympic Jumping qualifier at Rabat in Morocco in the finest style. Completing with just four faults over two tough rounds of Nations Cup competition, they pinned Switzerland into second and Italy into third place. There were six countries from this region – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – chasing down two available places at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. And it was the Qataris who booked the second slot when finishing eighth of the 14 competing nations.

It was history-making stuff for the winners, as the last time an Egyptian showjumping team competed at an Olympic Games was 59 years ago, in Rome in 1960.

“It’s incredible!” said third-line rider Abdel Said who collected just a single time penalty in each round with Venise du Reverdy. “When we came here, we knew we had a good chance because our riders are strong and compete all over the world. But not only to qualify for Tokyo but to also win this Nations Cup is a huge boost for us! This has been a target for the last two years. We really wanted to qualify and we took a gamble with the team we sent to Barcelona (for the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final two weeks ago), but it didn’t work out great. But we brought our ‘A’ team here and this has happened – it’s unbelievable!” he added.

They were already in the hunt at the halfway stage, sharing second place with Switzerland when both carried just one time fault. Brazil’s Bernardo Alves (El Torreo de Muze), Felipe Amaral (Quinn 33), Rodrigo Mesquita Marinho (Edesa’s Basantos), and Pedro Veniss (For Felicila) led the way on a zero scoreline while Canada was lying third with five on the board and the Qataris were already in eighth place carrying 10.

But the Brazilians lost their grip on pole position when racking up 14 faults second time out over the course designed by Irishman Alan Wade. And when Andy Kistler’s Swiss side of Elian Baumann (Campari Z), Anthony Bourquard (Tum Play du Jouas), Marc Rothlisberger (Agatha d’Ecaussines), and Alain Jufer (Cornet MM) had to add four more faults to their tally then the door was open for the Egyptians.

Zeyada reduced his first-round 12-fault discount score with Vizalaty to just two time faults at his second attempt, so when Nasser and Lucifer V posted a brilliant double-clear and Said registered only his second single time penalty of the day, then that would do it. The Swiss were on a final total of five while Egypt had just four on their scoresheet. El Dahan and his super-mare, Suma’s Zorro, looked set to put the icing on the cake by reducing that to just one fault with another double-clear performance, but not even their pole down could spoil the Egyptian celebrations. It was a huge moment for these four men who were putting their country right back on the Olympic Jumping map.

They were bursting with pride, and rightly so. The hard-working Said, who runs his own business in Antwerp, Belgium, sourcing and producing young horses and coaching riders while also competing, described his 10-year-old mare Venise as “a very raw and rough diamond who is only coming together over the last few months, but she is tough and has all the power in the world!” Maybe she will be the one who will take him to Tokyo. “It’s where we all want to get to. I’ve always dreamed of competing at the Olympic Games!“ he said.

Qatar’s 28-fault scoreline was good enough to earn the second Tokyo ticket. Hamad Nasser Al Qadi (SIEC Lonnie) posted 14 faults, Sheikh Ali Al Thani (Sirocco) collected nine, Rashid Towaim Ali Al Marri (Armstrong van de Kapel) picked up 15 faults, and Bassem Mohammed (Gunder) produced their best score with a total of five.

“Congratulations to all who helped us make it to the Olympics for a second time. We are very excited about it!” Bassem Mohammed said. “We competed in Rio (2016 Olympic Games) and now we go to Tokyo. It’s really important for us as riders, for the Federation, and for the Olympic Committee of Qatar so we are really looking forward to it,” he added.

Result here: https://online.equipe.com/fr/class_sections/464650.

by Louise Parkes

Irish Take 2019 Title and Tokyo Qualifying Spot

(L to R) Paul O’Shea, Peter Moloney, Chef d’Equipe Rodrigo Pessoa, Darragh Kenny, and Cian O’Connor. (FEI/Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

The Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final 2019 came to thrilling climax, and it was Irish eyes that were smiling when Rodrigo Pessoa’s team of Peter Moloney, Paul O’Shea, Darragh Kenny, and Cian O’Connor clinched victory in fine style. Completing with just a single time fault, they pinned the defending champions from Belgium into runner-up spot while Sweden lined up in third. And to put the icing on the Irish cake, they also collected the Olympic qualifying spot they have been craving for a very long time.

Brilliant course-building by Spain’s Santiago Varela, who will also be presenting the tracks in Tokyo next summer, ensured another nail-biting afternoon during which it was impossible to predict the destiny of the coveted series trophy until the very last moment. But the Irish had already booked their Tokyo tickets before anchorman O’Connor went into the ring.

A single mistake from pathfinder Moloney and Chianti’s Champion at the massive triple combination three from home was followed by a superb clear from O’Shea and Skara Glen’s Machu Picchu. So when Kenny and Balou du Reventon collected just that single time fault then the road to Tokyo was already closed to their rivals from Colombia and Italy.

And then O’Connor turned a great day into an amazing one with a foot-perfect run from PSG Final because that put pressure on the Belgians for the Longines series title. The newly crowned European champions posted clears from Olivier Philippaerts (H&M Extra) and Jerome Guery (Quel Homme de Hus) and were looking good for their second victory in a row. One more clean run from anchorman Gregory Wathelet and MJT Nevados would clinch it because they could drop the unlucky four picked up by Niels Bruynseels and Jenson van’t Meulenhof at the very last fence. But, to gasps of disbelief from the crowd, Wathelet’s stallion uncharacteristically ducked out at the penultimate vertical, so Bruynseels’ four had to be counted and that would only be good enough for second place.

“We had a very clear objective coming here; the riders were super-focused and the horses were in great shape. Today we expected a very tough fight from Italy and Colombia who were our direct opponents (for Tokyo qualification), but as it happened, we were also holding strong against the big countries like Belgium and others. People sometimes don’t realise the pressure the riders are under to bring this qualification home. The weight of their country was on their shoulders; it was a big ask from them and to do it in the style they did it – hats off to them!”– Rodrigo Pessoa (Chef d’Equipe Team Ireland)

O’Connor, a member of the last Olympic team fielded by Ireland in Athens (GRE) in 2004, pointed out that the Longines title was always in their sights this week.  “Our aim was to win this trophy all along; obviously the Olympic qualification was also our goal, but you don’t come here just to qualify – we came here to win, and by doing so we got the bonus of qualification!” he said. And the team honoured one of the members of that 2004 Irish side, Kevin Babington, who finished individually fourth with the great Carling King that year and who experienced a life-changing accident four weeks ago, by wearing armbands bearing his name this week.

Pessoa was delighted with the spirit shown by his riders. “With teams there are good days and bad days… there’s a lot of chemistry, but the most important thing is that on the day it really counts, everyone sticks together and pulls the same way. People can leave their personal issues on the side and really pull for the country and that’s what happened here. I’m really proud of what they did today!”

Kenny said he realised how important his ride was. “I was a bit nervous going in the ring but I’m very lucky. I’ve an incredible horse; he’s absolutely amazing and he tried so hard. On Thursday he jumped an incredible clear and today I was just trying to make sure I left all the jumps up. Unfortunately, Santi [Santiago Varela, course designer] told me that I was the only person to get a time fault! My goal coming here was to try and do a double-clear, to try and get Ireland to Tokyo – that was the most important thing, and I’m glad I could be part of this great team. We were all fighting together; that was the most important thing,” he added.

That one time fault cost him a share of the €100,000 bonus for double-clear rounds that instead was divided between Belgium’s Olivier Philippaerts and Germany’s Daniel Deusser.

There was a great sense of satisfaction for Pessoa. “We already had two disciplines qualified (Dressage and Eventing) but it’s been a long time since Ireland, a great equestrian nation, has been at the Olympics Games in showjumping and it was this team’s responsibility to bring it home. That for me was the most stressful thing today, to feel what they felt and how hard it must have been for them to ride in those conditions. They had such a great mental attitude – nothing could have stopped them from achieving what they did. I was called in a few years ago to do a job (achieve Olympic Jumping qualification) so now it’s mission accomplished!” he said.

By Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

FEI Researches Equine Health and Performance at Tokyo 2020 Test Event

Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima and Vick Du Grisors JRA. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

With optimising performance in challenging climatic conditions high on the agenda during the numerous Ready Steady Tokyo test events, the FEI had already put in place a major research study aimed at identifying best practices and management of horses training and competing in hot and humid environments.

Long travelling times and distances, time-zone disruptions, and heat and humidity pose specific challenges to horses and of course to human athletes. Monitoring of the combined effects of all these factors was put in place prior to the horses’ departure from their home countries en route to Tokyo and throughout last week’s equestrian test event in the Japanese capital. Data collected will be used to provide the FEI, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee (TOCOG), as well as National Olympic and Paralympic Committees with detailed information on equine performance in these conditions.

“High level equestrian competitions are increasingly taking place in parts of the world where the climate poses health challenges for both humans and horses,” FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström said.

“The study plays a crucial role in guiding the TOCOG and other Organising Committees on appropriate facilities and support, and will be used to advise and guide athletes and National Federations on the preparation of their horses in the build-up to and during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The study monitored horses before, during, and after their journey to Tokyo, with data collected through under-tail temperature monitors and sensors that measure stable and travelling activity, as well as thermal comfort. SaddleClip sensors were used to record gait, speed, and distance, and heart rate monitors were used on the horses prior to and during competition. The technology for the data collection was made possible through the FEI’s partnerships with Epona Biotec, Arioneo, Equestic, and Polar.

Findings from the study will build on the existing framework for implementing measures to run equestrian sports in hot and humid climates that was developed for the Games in Atlanta 1996 and the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games in Hong Kong. Olympic test events prior to Atlanta 1996, Athens 2004, and Beijing 2008 also included organised monitoring of competing horses.

To ensure that NOCs and NFs are fully aware of the climatic challenges, the FEI included an information session on climate mitigation protocols aimed at minimising the effects of heat and humidity in the official Observers Programme, which ran concurrently with the test event.

During next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, equestrian sport will be held at the Baji Koen Equestrian Park and Sea Forest venues. Baji Koen, which hosted the Olympic equestrian events at the Tokyo Games in 1964, has been extensively refurbished by the Japan Racing Association, while the cross country venue at Sea Forest that will be shared with rowing and canoe sprint is on reclaimed land and will be turned into a park post-Games.

FEI media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 787 506 142

Olga Nikolaou
Media Relations Officer
olga.nikolaou@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 56

Olympic Champion Jung Claims Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event Honours

Michael Jung with Fischerwild Wave. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

Germany’s Michael Jung, Olympic Eventing champion in London 2012 and again in Rio 2016, has already claimed gold in Tokyo one year out from the Olympic Games after taking the honours with Fischerwild Wave at the Ready Steady Tokyo test event which wrapped up at the Equestrian Park.

The 37-year-old, who has three Olympic gold and one silver from two Games appearances with the now retired La Biosthetique Sam FBW, had shadowed the leaders from the outset, even though he was riding the youngest horse on the start list.

Third after Dressage behind the home side’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA, the German pair moved up to second after cross country, and a superb clear in the final Jumping test with the seven-year-old Fischerwild Wave then put the pressure on overnight leaders, Australia’s Andrew Hoy with Bloom Des Hauts Crets.

The mare had jumped impeccably around Derek Di Grazia’s cross country 24 hours earlier, but became increasingly headstrong over the coloured poles, and when the middle element of the triple combination hit the sand to drop Hoy down the order to fifth, victory went to the German duo.

In mixed weather conditions that veered from heavy rain to hot sunshine, nine horses were foot perfect over Santiago Varela’s 11-fence track, with Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima on Vick Du Grisors JRA and Dressage leaders Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA among them. The home pair moved up to claim podium spots in silver and bronze, heading no less than four Japanese in the top 10.

All 16 horses that started cross country were passed fit at the horse inspection, with all of them beautifully turned out and looking exceptionally well.

The German winner was quick to praise the facilities provided at the two venues, Equestrian Park and Sea Forest. “For me it was very interesting to be here and nice to see how everything works, especially the cross country with the horses. It felt very good. It’s difficult but still possible and I think it’s really not a problem. For sure you need a very good preparation and you have to be very fit before you arrive here, the horses and the riders as well.

“I think it will be very nice next year if you see everything this year and we have one more year to prepare and to make some little details a bit better. I’m really looking forward to next season.”

Second-placed Ryuzo Kitajima, a member of Japan’s gold medal team at last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), was delighted with the performance of his horse Vick Du Grisors JRA. “It was hard work in the very hot weather, but my horse had a very good reaction in the cross country and in the practice arena he was too fresh today so I’m very happy with a double clear, it’s a fantastic result.”

The overwhelming impression from the 20 National Olympic and Paralympic Committees that were onsite was extremely positive and the general mood was summed up by Sydney 2000 Olympic champion David O’Connor, who chairs the FEI Eventing Committee.

“The facilities are very impressive and we had the chance to test everything we needed to test, which was the purpose of this week’s test event,” he said. “There are some adjustments to be made but they are minor ones, as the Organising Committee has thought through all the details and is right on track to make 2020 a really great Olympic Games for equestrian sport.”

Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event (final placings) – 1, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0 penalties; 2, Japan’s Vick Du Grisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 3, Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 30.1; 4, Great Britain’s Halltown Harley (Georgie Spence), 30.6; 5, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 31.7; 6, Japan’s Swiper JRA (Toshiyuki Tanaka), 32.3.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Kiwis and Chinese Claim Tokyo Tickets at Valkenswaard

New Zealand and China. (FEI/Libby Law Photography)

New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China are both on their way to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after clinching the top two places at the Olympic Group G team Jumping qualifier staged in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands.

The experienced Kiwi side was always tipped to come out on top, and they lived up to expectations. But as four-time Olympian Bruce Goodin pointed out they were taking nothing for granted.

“These qualifiers are tricky things; it’s all or nothing; you can come in with good form and still miss out – you have to get it right on the day!” said the man who is based in Skåne, Sweden.

And it was clearly no walk-in-the-park for any of the six nations vying for those two coveted slots, Helena Stormanns’ winning side of Goodin, Samantha McIntosh, Tom Tarver-Priebe, and Daniel Meech posting a final scoreline of 17 faults, although they didn’t have to call up anchorman Meech in the second round.

China’s Yaofeng Li, You Zhang, Zhenqiang Li, and Tongyan Liu rounded up their score to 47 faults for second place while Hong Kong’s Patrick Lam, Clarissa Lyra, Jacqueline Lai, and Kenneth Cheng finished third with 58. The only other team to finish was Chinese Taipei whose Tina Lu, Isheau Wong, Po-Hsiang Huang, and Jasmine Chen put 62 faults on the board. The three-member sides from The Philippines and the Republic of Korea did not complete.

“It’s a huge thrill for us – we missed out on a team place at the last two Games but we came here with three experienced riders, and one newcomer in Tom who had never been on team before at this level, so for him to come out with a clear in the second round was really something! I’m very proud of all our team and very thankful to Helena our Chef d’Equipe!” Goodin said.

The Kiwis were already well out in front after the first round, counting single errors from both Goodin (49) with Backatorps Danny V and Samantha McIntosh (43) riding Check In, and the five collected by Daniel Meech (45) and his mare Fine. The relatively unknown Tarver-Priebe (34) and Popeye racked up a 12-fault tally for the first-round discard, but their foot-perfect second run secured the Tokyo ticket and ensured Meech didn’t have to return to the ring. The only addition to the New Zealand scoreline were the four faults picked up by Goodin and his 11-year-old gelding who clipped the final fence second time out.

McIntosh was clear at her second attempt, and the lady who was flying the Bulgarian flag on her only previous Olympic outing in Sydney (AUS) in 2000 is delighted to be back representing her native country once again. “These guys are my friends and we work great as a team. I was young (24) when competing in Sydney and I never managed to have the right horse at the right time for any of the other Games until now. Check In has been a fantastic horse for me. It didn’t start easy, but we have a great partnership now!” she pointed out.

“Things come easier when you’re younger,” said Meech. “I competed in Atlanta (1996) and finished 12th in Sydney (2000) but there’s been a big gap and I really appreciate it much more now than I did then! There’s nothing like the Olympic Games; absolutely nothing compares; this qualification is such a relief and it’s great to get the Olympic buzz going again!” added the German-based rider.

“The Chinese team is going to the Olympics again as a team; it means we have improved a lot in the last 10 years and we will keep improving. I think this will motivate more and more people to join this amazing sport. We’ve been preparing for this for over a year,” said 21-year-old Yaofeng Li who finished individually seventh for the host nation at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China in 2014.

And there was one extra-proud father at Valkenswaard, Yaofeng’s father Zhenqiang Li (51), who posted just six faults over two rounds to help seal that second Olympic slot. “For a dozen years my son and I have trained together, competed together, and now it has proved to be a worthwhile trip – I am very excited! Beijing 2008 was the first Olympic Games for me and the Chinese riders, so it is a lifelong memory for me. And it is even more meaningful because last time we got through as host country but this time we competed against five other teams in Group G and earned the qualification. It proves that equestrian sport in China has developed dramatically in recent years!” he pointed out.

Team China captain and anchorman, Tongyan Liu (51), congratulated his side. “This is only the first step in a long journey – there is still a gap between us and the world’s best riders, but I hope the young Chinese riders will go further, and even better!” he said.

One of those young hopefuls is 18-year-old You Zhang who steered his 10-year-old gelding Caesar through two eight-fault rounds. As he rightly pointed out, this was a watershed moment for his country in the history of this sport. “I feel great to achieve this result with my team; it’s the first time that China has been properly qualified as a team, so I feel happy for myself and the Chinese Team. I’m very excited about going to Tokyo, really looking forward to it, and we will try to do good over there!” he said.

Full result here: https://results.hippodata.de/2019/1714/docs/result_qualifier.pdf

by Louise Parkes

Triple Olympic Gold Medalist Hoy Snatches Lead with Bloom after Cross Country

Andrew Hoy with Bloom Des Hauts Crets. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

Australia’s triple Olympic team gold medalist Andrew Hoy galloped his way into the top spot with Bloom Des Hauts Crets after cross country, when rising heat and humidity provided a perfect environment to test the onsite cooling facilities for the equine and human athletes.

Sixth out onto Derek Di Grazia’s beautiful 20-fence course at Sea Forest overlooking the heart of Tokyo Bay, the seven-time Olympian and the eight-year-old Selle Français mare flew across the finish line with seven seconds to spare to take the early lead on a score of 27.7.

Hoy was thrilled to move to the top of the leaderboard. “It’s a very nice position to be in and if I win, I’m very happy for this year, but it’s next year I want to win! My horse galloped very well and her heart rate and temperature were very good when I arrived. The cooling facilities here at the venue were absolutely excellent. As an Olympic venue it’s ready one year before because the ground is excellent and the construction of the cross-country fences is very good, but next year will be very different fences.”

As the Australian combination were lying second after the Dressage phase, only overnight leaders Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA could challenge them, but the home side star was 14 seconds down on the clock to collect 5.6 time faults and drop to fourth.

German superstar Michael Jung, another triple Olympic gold medalist and heading for Tokyo 2020 as the defending champion, was second last out on the track with the seven-year-old Fischerwild Wave. They too came home through the finish flags clear over the fences and on the clock to move up to second on 28.0.

“It was hot but it wasn’t really a big problem,” Michael Jung said afterwards. “The grooms and everyone took really good care of the horses and everyone tried to make the job for the horses and the riders as easy as possible. This is really fantastic here.”

Another pair for the host nation, Ryuzo Kitajima and Vick Du Gisors, were almost bang on the optimum time of five minutes 30 seconds to move up from fourth after the Dressage to third ahead of Oiwa and Bart, with compatriot Kazuma Tomoto fractionally behind in fifth on Tacoma d’Horset. Britain’s Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley round out the top six and, amazingly, there’s less than a fence between them and the leaders.

Seven of the 16 starters remain on their Dressage marks, while eight others collected just time faults. The only combination to pick up jumping penalties were cross country pathfinders Kazuya Otomo and Condorcet, who had a runout at the second element of the angled rails double at fence 10 to drop one place to 16th.

“All the horses recovered really well after the cross country, despite the challenging conditions, and they are all now back home in their air-conditioned stables at Baji Koen resting ready for tomorrow’s Jumping,” FEI Veterinary Director Goran Akerström said.

Ready Steady Tokyo test event (placings after cross-country) – 1, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 27.7 penalties; 2, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0; 3, Japan’s Vick Du Gisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 4, Japan’s Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 30.1; 5, Japan’s Tacoma d’Horset (Kazuma Tomoto), 30.4; 6, Great Britain’s Halltown Harley (Georgie Spence), 30.6.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

 

Home Side Hero Yoshiaki Oiwa Takes Early Lead at Ready Steady Tokyo Test Event

Yoshiaki Oiwa riding Bart L JRA. (FEI/Yusuke Nakanishi)

Japan’s Yoshiaki Oiwa is no stranger to success, having claimed double gold at last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), and the three-time Olympian has put down a strong marker for the home side by taking the early lead after the Dressage phase at the Ready Steady Tokyo test event.

Riding the talented Bart L JRA, previously ridden by Frenchman Matthieu Lemoine on the gold medal team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Oiwa earned top marks from all three judges to lead the field on a mark of 24.5. The 43-year-old has been based in Europe for almost 20 years, but his heart lies in Japan.

“I’m a home country rider and I’ve been based in Europe for the last 18, 19 years,” he said after his Dressage performance here at the Equestrian Park. “So many people are supporting and helping me, but they’ve never seen what I’m doing, so this is a very very good chance to show what I’m doing and what this sport is about. Hopefully we can do the best performance and all the Japanese people do their best and get medals.”

Among a star-studded cast, Australia’s triple Olympic team gold medalist Andrew Hoy is 3.2 penalties adrift in second with Bloom Des Hauts Crets, fractionally ahead of Germany’s double Olympic champion Michael Jung on Fischerwild Wave with 28.0.

The top five are all under 30 penalties, with Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima and Vick Du Gisors JRA fourth on 28.2 and Germany’s Peter Thomsen with Horseware Nobleman fifth with 29.50.

Kuzuma Tomoto is another of the contingent flying the flag for Japan and he sits in sixth with Tacoma d’Horset on 30.4, a single point but three places ahead of his trainer, British legend William Fox-Pitt with Summer at Fernhill.

The Japanese athletes are increasingly a force to be reckoned with, finishing fourth and just out of the medals at last year’s FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA). Looking ahead to Tokyo 2020, Tomoto commented: “Our team is really tough and has got strong quickly. We’re aiming to get a medal; that’s why we have to improve more and more. We have lots of nice riders so we can do it for sure.”

Final horse into the arena, GHS Calvaruise ridden by Kazuya (JPN), has now been withdrawn after placing last of the 17 starters in Dressage on 40.8. The rest of the horses have been transported to the stables at Sea Forest where they will spend the night before cross country.

Derek Di Grazia’s 3,025 metre track incorporates 20 fences with 31 jumping efforts, but the American designer is giving nothing away about his track for the 2020 Games. Even so, the 20 National Olympic and Paralympic Committees that are onsite for the official observers programme are making the most of the opportunity to see the terrain at Sea Forest and test the facilities at both venues.

On Wednesday, action returns to the equally stunning new facilities at Baji Koen, site of the Olympic equestrian events at the 1964 Tokyo Games, for Wednesday’s final Jumping phase.

The Baji Koen refurbishment has been funded independently by the Japan Racing Association and will provide an extraordinary legacy for the residents of Tokyo, as will the park that will be created on the reclaimed land at Sea Forest, which also hosts rowing and canoe sprint next year.

Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event (placings after Dressage): 1, Japan’s Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 24.5; 2, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 27.7; 3, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0; 4, Japan’s Vick Du Gisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 5, Germany’s Horseware Nobleman (Peter Thomsen), 29.50; 6, Japan’s Tacoma d’Horset (Kuzuma Tomoto), 30.4.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Ready Steady Tokyo Equestrian Test Event Boasts World-Class Startlist

Michael Jung. (FEI / Arnd Bronkhurst)

Next month’s Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event, which runs from 12-14 August, boasts a truly world-class field, including reigning Olympic champion and multi-medalled German athlete Michael Jung. The 17 athletes from four nations – Japan, Germany, Australia, and Great Britain – have between them amassed an incredible tally of 74 medals at Olympic, world, and continental Games and Championships.

Jung (37), the first and so far only Eventing athlete to have held the world, Olympic, and European titles at the same time, has won 20 medals of which 12 are gold, including back-to-back Olympic titles and a team gold in London 2012. He is joined by triple Olympic team gold medallist Andrew Hoy (AUS), all four of Japan’s Asian Games 2018 gold medal team among an 11-strong Japanese squad, and five-time Olympian William Fox-Pitt (GBR), who has no fewer than 23 medals to his name.

The strength of the host nation has been increasingly underlined recently, with Japan taking team and individual gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), and the team finishing fourth and just out of the medals at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon (USA) last September. And the successes have continued unabated this season, with the team winning the Olympic Groups F and G qualifier at Saumur (FRA) in June, while Japanese athletes have claimed no less than three CCI4* wins.

Kazuma Tomoto (36) topped the leaderboard at the CCI4* events in Chatsworth (GBR) and Ballindenisk (IRL) this spring, while Yoshiaki Oiwa (43) took individual honours in the Polish CCI4* at Strzegom at the end of last month with Bart L, the 13-year-old gelding he steered to double gold at the Asian Games. The Dutch-bred was previously ridden by Frenchman Matthieu Lemoine rode to team gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. So the writing is clearly on the wall – Japan is on a medal march in Tokyo next year!

Cross country course designer Derek Di Grazia (USA) has built a special track for the test event and, while athletes, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and National Federations (NFs) will have the chance to assess the undulations of the terrain at Sea Forest, Di Grazia will be giving nothing away about his Olympic course for next year’s Games.

“We have a truly star-studded cast for our Ready Steady Tokyo test event next month, when some of the world’s most decorated Eventing athletes and their equine partners will have the opportunity to trial our two fabulous venues and, at the same time, provide a taster of the level of equestrian action that will be on offer at the Games next year,” FEI President Ingmar De Vos said. “I can’t remember a time when we had such a high caliber of athletes and horses for the Olympic test event, so it’s going to be really special.

“Equestrian brings together sporting prowess and horsemanship and we are excited that a whole new global audience will have the chance to witness the unique collaboration between horse and human which creates a cocktail of drama and pure magic.”

The test event, which will trial logistics, results, timing and data handling, footing, transport between the two venues, along with multiple other key factors that are crucial for the smooth running of next year’s Games, is a CCI 3* Eventing competition that provides the opportunity to test both equestrian venues – Equestrian Park at Baji Koen and the new Sea Forest cross country venue.

Baji Koen, site of the Olympic equestrian events at the 1964 Tokyo Games, has undergone extensive refurbishment, funded independently by the Japan Racing Association, and will provide an extraordinary legacy for Tokyo inhabitants, along with the park that will be created out of the reclaimed land at Sea Forest, which hosts equestrian cross country, rowing, and canoe sprint.

The full list of starters for the Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event are available here.

The test event also provides the opportunity for NOCs and NFs to take part in the official Observers Programme, which includes a session on climate mitigation protocols aimed at minimising the effects of heat and humidity. The FEI is also conducting a study on participants at the test event (human and equine) with the goal of further boosting current research on optimising performance in a challenging climate. Full details of the Observers Programme are available here.

Videos explaining the Tokyo 2020 Olympic formats for Jumping and Dressage, which were trialled at the Future Champions event in Hagen (GER) last month, are available on FEI YouTube here. The Eventing format, which has been run at events in Poland, Ireland, New Zealand, and Italy, will be used at the last leg of the FEI Eventing Nations Cup™ in Boekelo (NED) in October, when the final team slot on the Tokyo 2020 startlist will be allocated.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

History Is Made as Israel Pips Poland in Mighty Battle for Tokyo 2020 Ticket in Moscow

Caption: The Israeli team of (L to R) Daniel Bluman, Dani Waldman, Ashlee Bond, and Elad Yaniv. (Photo: FEI/Maxima Stables)

In a cliff-hanger of a competition, Team Israel made history when snatching the single spot on offer at the Olympic Jumping Qualifier at Maxima Park in Moscow (RUS). This was the second of two special qualifiers for countries in Group C, the first staged in Budapest (HUN) where Ukraine came out on top.

“We were optimistic but there was a lot of pressure this afternoon. But these guys, they made it; all of them are magnificent; they’ve all done a great job and the second round was perfect! We are happy and this is historic – it’s the first time we will have Israel (Jumping team) at the Olympics!” said Amichai Alperovich, team sports manager.

However, the victory was a very narrow one, just a single fault separating the winning foursome of Daniel Bluman (29), Ashlee Bond (34), Elad Yaniv (41), and Dani G. Waldman (34) from the Polish side that consisted of only three team-members. They put up a really gutsy performance and held the lead at the halfway stage, but a single second-round fence error meant the ticket to Tokyo 2020 would go Israel’s way.

In contrast to most of Europe which has been experiencing sweltering heat this week, it has been cold, and extremely wet, in Moscow with maximum temperatures of around 8 degrees. “Yes it’s raining, but it’s the same for everyone!” said Israeli team coach and former Olympic, World, and European champion Jeroen Dubbeldam.

A total of six nations lined out and both Azerbaijan and Kyrgystan, who also sent out three-member sides, were eliminated in the first round, leaving four countries to battle on in round two. However, it was already a two-nation contest at this stage, with Poland out in front carrying 13 faults chased by Israel with 15 on the board as the action resumed. Russia was next in line with a 42-fault scoreline while Uzbekistan returned to the ring with 60 faults on their scoresheet.

The course designed by Olaf Petersen Jr. was no walk in the park, and only four horse-and-rider partnerships managed to get home inside the 78-seconds time-allowed in the first round. The oxers at fences three and six fell on numerous occasions, and the triple combination at fence seven required caution to get the distances just right. Russian chances were shaken when Vladimir Tuganov’s Tulum took a dislike to the open water at fence nine in both rounds, while the final line that began with an intimidating wall followed by a double and then a sharp left-hand turn to a liverpool proved the undoing of many.

Israeli pathfinder, double-Olympian Daniel Bluman, made it all look pretty easy when registering just a single time fault first time out with Ladriano Z, but when Ashlee Bond and Chela LS added 12 and Elad Yaniv and Alvaro du Gue also ran into trouble on the run home to finish with nine, they began to look vulnerable. Not even the hugely experienced Dani Waldman and Lizziemary escaped unscathed as they racked up five faults for a pole off the middle of the triple combination and one for time.

Poland didn’t get off to the best start when Andrzej Oplatek and Stakkatan left two on the floor, but when Jan Bobik and Chacco Amicor produced the only complete clear of the first round and the only mistake made by the anchor partnership of Krzysztof Ludwiczak and Nordwind was at the wall, with a time-fault also added, then their tally of 13 gave them a two-fault advantage over Israel as round two began.

And when Oplatek produced a brilliant clear second time out, then that piled the pressure on Israel, because Bluman once again posted a single time fault while Bond added eight more to her tally. But Yaniv rode to the rescue with a zero score and then all the pressure was on Polish shoulders once again. So when Bobik faulted just once, at the tricky oxer at fence six in an otherwise foot-perfect second run, then the result would lie in Dani Waldman’s hands.

No matter what would happen Poland could finish with no less than 17 on the board while a clear from the Waldman would see Bond’s eight faults dropped from the Israeli scoresheet when the best three results were counted, leaving them with just Bluman’s single time fault to add for a total of 16. And that’s exactly what she did, the lady who changed her surname from Goldstein to Waldman when getting married just four weeks ago steering the great chestnut mare that has carried her to the top of the sport through a fabulous round to clinch it.

Poland’s Ludwiczak wrapped up the afternoon with only the fifth clear performance of the day, but his country would miss out on that Tokyo ticket by an agonising one-fault margin.

Result: 1, Israel 16 faults; 2, Poland 17 faults; 3, Russia 54 faults; 4, Uzbekistan 119; 5, Azerbaijan and Kyrgystan elim.

Full result here (please scroll down).

by Louise Parkes

Russia Takes Tokyo 2020 Ticket at Exciting Olympic Qualifier in Moscow

Elena Sidneva and Fuhur. (Photo: Maxima Stables)

Russia will be represented by a Dressage team at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after claiming the single spot on offer at the Group C Dressage qualifier staged at Maxima Park in Moscow (RUS). Group C covers Central & Eastern Europe and Central Asia, embracing a total of 29 National Federations from FEI Regional Groups l, ll, and lll, and the hosts pinned Belarus into runner-up spot in an exciting contest.

“It was the first time I performed in my motherland; usually I perform in Europe where sometimes I am the only participant under the flag of Russia at the event. Here I feel great support and at the same time all of us feel a big responsibility in this tournament. I fully concentrated on my performance, and each of us did everything for the sake of this victory today!” said Russia’s Tatyana Kosterina.

And the talented team from Belarus were gracious in defeat. “We are not rivals; we are all friends here. Of course, the Russian team is very strong. I think that we also managed to perform our best. We have a very young team,” said Hanna Karasiova.

The Russians were looking good from the outset as Chef d’Equipe Anatoly Isachkin pointed out at Thursday’s team announcement. “Our riders are all fairly experienced; three of them constantly perform and live in Europe – Elena Sidneva, Tatyana Kosterina, and Evgenija Davydova. They have all been showing good results and we are optimistic – we want to win and to finally get a team to the Olympic Games!” They succeeded in doing just that when filling four of the top-five places.

Svetlana Evschik, Chef d’Equipe for Belarus, said during the teams announcement press conference that “the absolute leader of our team is Anna Karasiova and her horse Zodiac. There was a short period when she did not perform but nevertheless, she showed good results in Nizhny Novgorod World Cup leg and we hope that the same will happen now. The second strong rider of our team is Olga Safronova – a rather young rider; last year she made her debut in the Grand Prix – she doesn’t have much experience in the Grand Prix, but her horse is very interesting and bright, and represented our country at the World Cup Final in Paris. Volha Ihumentsava competed at the European Championship but her horse was injured a year ago and in April 2019 it just took its first start after recovering. The fourth rider is a young athlete who can still compete in the U-25 category – Anastasiya Dudkova,” she explained.

It was Dudkova (22) and her easy-moving 11-year-old Trakehner gelding, Hofman, who were pathfinders for Belarus, posting a score of 61.043 before Karasiova (35) and her gelding Zodiak lived up to their billing when putting the leading score of 69.804 on the board at the halfway stage. Ihumentsava (34) and the Hannoverian Ed Khardy earned a mark of 63.543 and then Safronova (27) and the impressive Sandro D’Amour rounded up the Belarus effort with 65.370.

Davydova (35), who along with Kosterina and Sidneva was a member of the Russian team that finished tenth at the FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018 in Tryon, USA, threw down the Russian challenge with a highly competitive score of 69.022 from her dark-bay KWPN mare, Awakening. And when Kosterina (41) backed that up with 69.087 from her mare Diavolessa VA, then the hosts were already looking very confident.

The Swedish spectators fell in love with Regina Isachkina’s (48) fabulous black stallion, Sun of May Life, at this year’s FEI Dressage World Cup Final in Gothenburg (SWE) where they finished 15th. And although the pair didn’t show the same level of harmony here, their score of 67.022 had already secured that treasured Tokyo qualifying slot even before Sidneva (54) entered the ring.

Last to go, this lady whose career highlights include the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, three FEI World Equestrian Games, five FEI Dressage World Cup Finals, and six European Championships produced an effortless performance from the 10-year-old gelding Fuhur who, with the utmost composure, presented fabulous passage, piaffe, and tempi changes to top the individual scoreboard with 72.022.

The final team scoreline showed Russia on a total of 210.130 and Belarus with 198.717.

Full result here (please scroll down).

by Louise Parkes