Category Archives: *Featured/Spotlights

Special features, spotlights, headlines

For His First Victory in a 5* Grand Prix, Olivier Perreau Shakes Up Hubside Jumping de Valence

France’s Olivier Perreau and GL Events’ Venizia d’Aiguilly ensured that suspense was at its height until the very end of the class, winning the CSI 5* Hubside Store Grand Prix this Sunday at the HUBSIDE JUMPING de VALENCE (Drôme).  A great sporting occasion for the best riders and horses, cheered on by a very enthusiastic audience.

The experts of world show jumping took part in the CSI 5* 1.60m Grand Prix at the HUBSIDE JUMPING de VALENCE on Sunday afternoon, in front of grandstands which were full and an enthusiastic crowd.  The course designed by France’s Cedric Longis promised some great sport.  Thirty-five combinations were competing in the class: thirty-five possibilities, but just one outcome. Number 10, which was a vertical, the first element of the double, number 12, and above all number 11, which was a plank, cost the riders dearly and were undoubtedly decisive in the class. There wasn’t a clear round until the significant, eleventh combination came into the ring, and after that a string of clears followed. Grégory Cottard and his great mare Bibici, a combination which will be representing France et the next European Championships, proved that it was possible. In their wake, Morgan Bordat and Uma also jumped clear and went through to the jump-off. In total, eleven combinations managed to obtain their ticket for the second part of the class. Five nations were in the running: France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Belgium. The jump-off was impressive and really exciting!

Grégory Cottard on his prestigious grey mare had the difficult task of going first in the jump-off. Well done! The opening combination was not faint-hearted, took a lot of risks and finished clear, in a time of 37:25. So the following riders had to go very, very fast.  It seemed impossible to improve on the time to beat, but that was without counting on Rhône Alpes’ Olivier Perreau and GL events Venezia d’Aiguilly did just that, finishing in 36:92! Incredible!

Full results here.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

Hubside Jumping in Valencia: Carlos Lopez at Home

They were twenty-nine to take the start of Thursday’s major CSI 5 * event, rated at 1.50m. On a tour signed Cédric Longis, eleven riders managed the perfect course. However, it was necessary to act quickly and well to win. Successful bet for Haras des Grillons rider Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo.

Jazzy music in the speakers, setting sun, and pink clouds relayed by diffused light all around the track, summer sweetness… the atmosphere was more than warm at the HUBSIDE JUMPING IN VALENCIA. However, in the arena, the riders were busy trying to overcome the difficulties proposed by the course manager, Cédric Longis. Combination number 9 will also have caused a hard time for many top players on the circuit, like the Frenchman Simon Delestre on Chesall Zimequest or the Italian Lorenzo de Luca and Amarit d’Amour.

It was the Brazilian Eduardo Pereira de Menezes, saddled on Calypso des Matis, who started the clear round and set the tone with a quick stopwatch of 63’36. Determined to do battle, the Amazons were not left out in this event, showing all their know-how. Sweden’s Angelica Augustsson Zanotelli on Ninterder Star (8th), the French Mégane Moissonnier with Aramusse (7th), Marie Pellegrin Boreal Rivendell (6th), or Mary Demonte Manchester (5th) attempted the catch, without success. It was not until the Briton Guy Williams, in the very last part of the race, to finally succeed in lowering the clock to 62’58 with Rouge de Ravel. This was what further motivated Haras des Grillons rider Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo, who won at home in 60’45 on his superb Evita Sg Z.

Marc Dilasser Rocks the Hubside Jumping in Valence

There was great sport Friday on the track of the HUBSIDE JUMPING in VALENCE. Eighteen couples had won their entry ticket for the jump-off of the 155 cm CSI 5 * event, determined to win. Discreet but oh so effective, the Normand Marc Dilasser got everyone to agree.

The first competitor set off for the major event of the day, where the leaders of the discipline had met. First on the track, the Irishman Daniel Coyle gave the public a perfect first lap, opening up the possibilities with Legacy. In the process or almost, his compatriot Mark Mcauley followed suit on Cap West, confirming the holding of a dam, almost immediately imitated by Bertram Allen, in the saddle on Harley Vd Bisschop. But Ireland was not the only nation in great shape last night since in the end, eighteen couples from seven countries managed to thwart the pitfalls of the course designed by Cédric Longis. Who from Ireland, France, Great Britain, Colombia, Italy, Mexico, or Belgium would win? The battle promised to be raised.

Riders and riders therefore rolled up their sleeves to do it quickly and well, taking all the risks to try to lower the stopwatch of Mark Mcauley, the first rider to present a double clear round. Time to beat: 43’52. The French Olivier Perreau (5th) and Alexa Ferrer (4th), the Briton John Whitaker (3rd), the Colombian Carlos Lopez (2nd), and the Belgian Pieter Clemens (6th) succeeded, pushing each other’s elbows. But that was without counting on the ardor of Marc Dilasser and his fabulous Arioto du Gevres, who snatched the victory at the end of an intense test with a stopwatch of 39’10. Prodigious.

Full results here.

Daniel Koroloff – E-mail: daniel@blizko-communication.com

A Golden Moment for Swedish Showjumping

(L to R) Henrik von Eckermann, Malin Baryard-Johnsson, and Peder Fredricson. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

It’s almost a century since Sweden last won Olympic Jumping Team gold, and they did it with both style and grace.

A magnificent performance all week from Henrik von Eckermann with King Edward, Malin Baryard-Johnsson with Indiana, and Peder Fredricson with All In led to high expectations that this could be the night they would bring the ultimate honour back to their country for the first time in 97 years. But it wouldn’t be easy.

As the final competition played itself out it came down to a head-to-head with the feisty American threesome of Laura Kraut with Baloutinue, Jessica Springsteen with Don Juan van de Donhoeve, and McLain Ward with Contagious, and they wouldn’t be handing anything over without a fight. The two sides completed the first round with eight faults apiece, and the battle lines were drawn.

Belgium was already assured of bronze when collecting 12 faults in the opening round. Team France looked set to be the biggest threat to all others when single time faults from both Simon Delestre and Berlux Z and Mathieu Billot with Quel Filou in the opening round left them sitting pretty before Penelope Leprevost set off. But elimination at the third fence for Vancouver de Lanlore shattered the French dream of repeating the glory they enjoyed five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

So Pieter Devos (Claire Z), Jerome Guery (Quel Homme de Hus), and Gregory Wathelet (Nevados S) could sit back in the knowledge that the third step of the podium would belong to Belgium, and the stage was set for one last roll of the dice for the Americans and Swedes.

Final showdown

With all three team members returning to the ring for the final showdown, it was Kraut who led the way for the USA with her 11-year-old gelding, scorching through the finish in 41.33 seconds to set the pace. And although Sweden’s von Eckermann took a new route, he was a little slower when breaking the beam in 42.00 seconds with King Edward who, sensationally, never lowered a single pole in five rounds of tough jumping this week.

Springsteen returned clear for USA in 42.95 seconds, so when Baryard-Johnsson was quicker, crossing the line in 41.89, the Swedes already had a small advantage. But Ward was next to go, and shaving seconds off all those ahead of him, he raced through the finish in 39.92 to really put it up to Swedish anchorman Fredricson.

But how cool is the man who took his second successive Individual silver medal, and with the same horse, just three days ago?

As he set off you could read the complete determination on Fredricson’s face. Did he feel the tension as he galloped down to the last fence, knowing what was hanging in the balance?

“Oh, the pressure was on!” he admitted. “My god, in these situations when you have two teams like this you really want to win. McLain was fast; I saw his round and I knew what I had to do, and today the poles stayed up and the time was on my side!

“I had the speed and I gave him (All In) a lot of room. He’s in super shape, but I was really worried he would take the front pole with his hindlegs, but he came up!” he said after breaking the beam in an amazing 39.01 seconds to seal the victory.

In the end, just 1.3 penalty points separated the two sides, but the joy in the aftermath for both teams was palpable. They’d been in a fair fight and the best side had won. No hard feelings, just delight in great sport played out between great opponents.

Enjoyed

Ward enjoyed every moment of it. “It was great to be in the battle!” he said with a big smile. “Sweden’s win wasn’t unexpected here, but they took it to another level; we would have had to have an incredible day to beat them. I think we pushed them right to the limit, and in competition when you push them to that limit and they still win you’ve got to be proud of the fight!”

“We just didn’t give up!” agreed his team-mate Kraut. “It was hard-fought and Sweden were incredible all week, so if you’re going to lose you’re going to lose to them, and we can live with that!”

Springsteen said, “It was wild, watching the last couple go, wondering if we would have to jump-off or not; you really got the jitters, but it was very exciting!”

But it was even more exciting for the new Olympic champions. There was no-one begrudging their success. They won fair and square and they were immensely proud of their achievement.

“Yes, it’s a dream come true – to win an Olympic gold medal. I think that’s every athlete’s dream for sure!” said Baryard-Johnsson. “We’ve been so well prepared for everything at this championship; we’ve not missed out on anything; we have a team behind us that’s incredible. All of us, the way we’ve ridden shows how confident we’ve been and how they’ve all made it possible for us to totally focus on what to do in there. We knew it was very possible for a jump-off because it was only one round, and we knew we didn’t want the silver medal this time!” said the rider who was a member of the Swedish side that took Olympic team silver in Athens (GRE) 17 years ago.

More special

Von Eckermann just missed out in the Individual Final on Wednesday night when finishing fourth, “so that’s why it’s even more special tonight!” he said. “It was a frustrating fourth place but I’m so happy that I pulled myself together and told myself to leave what I can’t change behind me and focus on this. No one can say we didn’t deserve it!”

He added that there should be medals awarded to the horses as well as the riders. King Edward certainly deserved a medal having jumped through the entire week without ever dropping a pole.

Fredricson’s last round was the stuff of champions, and Ward, who has won plenty of accolades himself, acknowledged that. “He’s one of the best, and his record with that horse is spectacular. What horsemanship and what planning, and all the people around him. But he’s also been at the top of the sport with other mounts too which is testament to his riding; it’s not just one horse,” he said.

Typically modest, Fredricson was thoughtful when asked what this glorious victory meant to him.

“It’s unbelievably satisfying to get this gold. And my horse deserves it also for the way he jumped. I’m so happy for him and his owner and groom and the whole team and my team-mates. This is a great feeling!” he said.

Facts and Figures:

Sweden last won Team gold at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924 when the three-rider side consisted of Ake Thelning (Loke), Axel Stahle (Cecil), and Age Lundstrom (Anvers).

Sweden also won Olympic Team gold on home ground in Stockholm in 1912 and in Antwerp in 1920.

For the Final competition, two changes were made to the teams that competed in Friday’s Jumping Team Qualifier – Willem Greve and Zypria S stepped out of the Dutch team and Harrie Smolders stepped in with Bingo de Parc, while Rodrigo Pessoa and Carlito’s Way stepped out of the Brazilian team so Yuri Mansur and Alfons stepped in.

Final medal standings in Jumping:

  • Jumping Team: Gold – Sweden; Silver – USA; Bronze – Belgium.
  • Jumping Individual: Gold – Ben Maher (GBR), Explosion W; Silver – Peder Fredricson (SWE), All In; Bronze – Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), Beauville Z.

Quotes:

Ben Maher, Individual gold medallist, talking about Great Britain’s decision to withdraw after Holly Smith and Harry Charles collected 24 faults between them: “Holly and Harry are young riders; they’ve ridden incredibly tonight but unfortunately it hasn’t gone our way as a team. And Explosion’s welfare is paramount for me. I’m not a quitter on the team. I always push to the end but we’re an extremely long way off any medal contention, and he’s done everything for Team GB and me as a rider this week and his welfare is a priority.”

Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE, talking about her mare Indiana: “When she goes in a second time, she’s always jumping better so I totally trust her; she made a tiny mistake in the first round and I was quite sure she wasn’t going to make another one the way she was jumping and the way she’s trying. She’s just incredible. It was up to me to make sure she was fast enough.”

Henrik von Eckermann SWE: “Somehow once we went to the jump-off, we felt so prepared. We’d gone through every detail before, and when Peder had the last fence down, we said OK, we have to see what happens then and everyone was very clear about what to do. Get on with it and don’t be second, whatever happens!”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Spectacular Swedes Sweep Through to Team Jumping Final

Malin Baryard-Johnsson and Indiana. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

It was a tough day at the office for many of the nations competing in the Team Jumping Qualifier at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Baji Koen Equestrian Park. But for Team Sweden it was just another walk in the park.

Since the action began on the first day of the Individual competition last Tuesday, Henrik von Eckermann’s King Edward, Malin Baryard-Johnsson’s Indiana, and Peder Fredricson’s All In have not lowered a single pole.

Fredricson and the 15-year-old All In have an incredible record. They were faultless on their way to Individual silver at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and once again on their way to Individual silver here in Tokyo on Wednesday night.

It will be a whole new competition when the action resumes in the Team Final where the top 10 teams will battle it out once again, all starting on a zero score. But the Swedes look super-confident ahead of that showdown in which they will be challenged by Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, USA, France, Great Britain, Brazil, and The Netherlands.

Dramatic exit

A number of countries made a dramatic exit, including Japan. Daisuke Fukushima and Chanyon, who finished Individually sixth, picked up eight faults when first to go for the host nation, but when Koki Saito and Chilensky were withdrawn that dashed their chances.

Then Irish pathfinder Shane Sweetnam and Alejandro fell at the water-tray vertical at fence 10. The grey gelding had been jumping erratically after paddling the first element of the triple combination at fence five. They left the arena unscathed, but Sweetnam was devastated for his team and for the horse who is normally so reliable.

“He’s an experienced horse; normally he’s very good, but he pulled his shoe off going into the triple combination. I don’t know whether that hurt him but it definitely rattled him, and then after that you could see he was very unsettled and wasn’t like himself at all,” said the man who has long been a rock for the Irish side. But his team’s chances of a place in the Final were gone.

When the second rotation of riders got underway, Israel’s Teddy Vlock took a fall at the previous liverpool oxer. His 11-year-old mare had already refused at the second fence and had two fences down along the way. Vlock was examined by medics after walking out of the arena and was cleared to go back to his hotel, but knowing that his country was now also out of the medal race.

Effortless ease

At the other end of the spectrum, the Swedes were just waltzing home with effortless ease. “Our horses have been unbelievable!” said Baryard-Johnsson. “I think we all have the same feeling that it felt quite easy every round in there – they are all jumping so well, every round!”

The Belgians and Germans also looked very comfortable, both completing with just four faults on the board all made up of time penalties. Gregory Wathelet was last to go for Belgium with Nevados S and felt he was in a comfort zone, because his compatriots Pieter Devos with Claire Z and Jerome Guery with Quel Homme de Hus had only collected a single time penalty each. He added two more but didn’t feel under any pressure.

“I just had to go and see how my horse was feeling after the Individual Final, because we all know tomorrow will be bigger like the (Individual) Final. It feels like he is fresh so I’m happy about that,” said the rider who finished ninth on Wednesday night.

Germany’s Maurice Tebbel and Don Diarado also picked up two time faults to add to the single faults collected by team-mates Andre Thieme with DSP Chakaria and Daniel Deusser with Killer Queen. Thieme had an interesting time in the arena and said afterwards, “I won’t win the prize for the most stylish round!” but he was really proud of his 11-year-old mare.

Superstar

“She is a superstar and I’m not the only one thinking that. She is complete!” he said. But that venue, those lights, and jumps – it’s maybe a bit early and too impressive for her because she’s young and green. But on the other hand, if she goes through this, she will learn something and everywhere else in the world it will be easy for her. I’m totally in love with this horse! She belongs to the family and she’s so special!” he added.

Switzerland finished with 10 on the board, the USA with 13, the defending champions from France with 15, and Great Britain racked up 17. The final three teams to make the cut were Brazil, who collected 25 faults, The Netherlands, who picked up 26, and Argentina, who finished with 27 and squeezed Egypt out of the top 10.

Also on the sidelines as the Final plays itself out will be the teams from China, Morocco, New Zealand, Czech Republic, and Mexico.

It won’t be long before the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team Jumping champions are crowned.

Facts and Figures:

Great Britain was heading the medal table with a total of 5 going into the Team Jumping Qualifier – so far, they have won 2 in Eventing, 2 in Dressage, and 1 in Jumping.

Germany has won four sets of medals to date: 1 in Eventing and 3 in Dressage.

19 teams of three riders started in this Olympic Jumping Team Qualifier.

France is defending Olympic team champions.

Quotes:

Shane Sweetnam IRL, talking about his round with Alejandro: “He’s jumped a lot of night classes, a lot under lights, and he started off settled tonight. I really think when he pulled the shoe, he got rattled. After that he was just really, really nervous. It’s gutting. It’s my first time in the ring this week and it’s a hard one to swallow, but this is the sport we’re in, and there are days that you are on top of the world and days you hit the bottom of the bucket.”

Ben Maher GBR, who won Individual gold on Wednesday night and who had just four faults with Explosion W: “I was happy; it was tough after the very fast round of jumping the other day and he gets more careful the faster he goes. It’s about giving him the confidence; maybe just there on the fault, I left him a little bit on his own and I could have helped him a bit more, but I was told by Scott Brash before I went in that we had a bit of a margin to make the team Final tomorrow, and I could take it a little bit easier on Explosion and try to – sounds crazy at this level of competition – give him a bit of an easier round, and if we make a mistake, we still make the Final. It was enough, and tomorrow is a new day.”

McLain Ward USA, who posted five faults with Contagious; it was his first time in the arena at Baji Koen: “We’ve been on ice for the better part of four weeks now; his last show was Rotterdam over a month ago; over the last 10 days I jumped eight or nine jumps, so to come in and jump at this level is a real challenge. I had a lot of anxiety about it to be frank. But he was right there for me. I turned for home and maybe wanted to bring that nice score home and I didn’t fight as hard as I need to for that oxer (fence 12), but I knew what the situation was, and I wanted to make sure there wasn’t going to be a major blunder.

“When I originally got Contagious I didn’t think he was an Olympic horse, but he’s proved us wrong in that today and he’s capable at this level. He always believed he could jump the big fences, and he’s developed and he’s a trier and a fighter, and I’m a trier and a fighter, and I’m really proud of the horse and I feel we belong here.”

Malin Baryard-Johnsson SWE, talking about her feisty mare Indiana: “I know her now many years and I’ve been through rounds better and worse riding wise; it took me a couple of years before I even felt safe on her; she was so difficult from the beginning. But we know each other so well and even when she’s at her worst to ride, she always goes in and tries her hardest to jump the jumps. I can trust her and she really trusts me. So it’s more when she’s in her difficult way that it’s up to me to handle it. I just have to focus even more. I’ve said many times it’s good for my old brain because I really have to be sharp; anything can happen. It keeps me on my toes.”

Results here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Wide Open Field Awaits Para Equestrian at Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Photo: FEI/Liz Gregg.

With a mix of debutant and experienced athletes set to take centre stage at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, the Para Equestrian field is wide open.

In all, there are 78 Para Equestrian athletes from 27 nations confirmed in the list of definite entries published by the FEI. Among them, one of the sport’s most enduring athletes, a strong contender for a ‘triple-triple’, and a Para Equestrian legend going for a record number of medals.

Tokyo will be the seventh appearance at a Paralympic Games for 60-year-old Jens Lasse Dokkan (NOR), who is the only athlete to have competed at every Paralympics edition since Atlanta 1996, when Para Dressage was introduced. Currently ranked World No. 5 in the FEI Para Dressage World Individual Ranking for Grade I, Dokkan goes into Tokyo with his mount Aladdin, following top three finishes in all his competition participations from 2019 to 2021.

As the current reigning World and European champion, Sanne Voets (NED) has her sights set high for Tokyo. The 34-year-old is looking to win the team, individual, and freestyle competitions in Tokyo to give her the elusive triple-triple of golds at European, World, and Paralympic level, a feat last achieved by Great Britain’s Sir Lee Pearson. Voets will be going for gold alongside her horse Demantur “Demmi” with a freestyle routine, developed in collaboration with top Dutch freestyle producer Joost Peters, and one of her country’s most popular bands, HAEVN.

Known as the Godfather of Para Dressage, Lee Pearson is himself looking to add to his medal tally of 14 Paralympic medals – which includes 11 golds – the highest of any Paralympic Equestrian. One of the most recognisable faces in Para Equestrian, Pearson made his debut at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, where he won gold medals in the individual, freestyle, and team. He won another three golds in Athens 2004 and then Beijing 2008, before a team gold, individual silver, and freestyle bronze in London 2012. At the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Pearson brought home a freestyle gold medal and an individual silver.

While Great Britain’s Para Dressage team has enjoyed unrivalled success at every Paralympics since Atlanta, this year in Tokyo, the USA are the hot favourites for team gold.

Lee Pearson will be reunited with his Rio 2016 teammates Sophie Christiansen, Natasha Baker, and Sophie Wells in Tokyo to defend Great Britain’s team title.

The US charge is led by Roxanne Trunnell, who is currently the highest ranked Para Dressage athlete in Grade I and in the FEI Para Dressage World Individual Ranking. Trunnell has won at every outing in the first half of 2021 and together with her horse Dolton, they have swept the Grade I classes at key 3* international events in the USA. Trunnell also served up a world record score of 89.522% for an FEI Para Dressage Freestyle Test. Trunnell will be joined by three-time Paralympian Rebecca Hart, as well as Beatrice De Lavalette and Kate Shoemaker, who will be making their Paralympic debut in Tokyo.

Current World and European champions the Netherlands are also desperate to make it a hat trick at the Paralympics. The team includes the hugely experienced European champion Frank Hosmar, back-to-back World champion Rixt van der Horst, and Sanne Voets.

“This year marks the 25th anniversary of Para Dressage’s debut at the Paralympic Games in Atlanta,” FEI Para Equestrian Committee Chair Amanda Bond said.

“And while they will be a very different Paralympics to what we’ve been used to, these Games are an opportunity to bring Para Equestrian to the forefront. Equestrian sport is unique, with its hallmark being the close connection between athlete and horse. This relationship is all the more special in Para Dressage as the two athletes really become one.

“I know I speak on behalf of the whole community when I say how thrilled we are to have this opportunity following some challenging times. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games are a triumph over adversity. I send my deepest and most heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to making the Olympic and Paralympic Games happen, and to the people of Japan for welcoming the international sporting community to what has been billed the Games of Hope.”

Although equestrian fans will see some old sporting rivalries play out, there are a number of athletes who will be making their debut appearance in Tokyo.

One of these athletes is 26-year-old Sho Inaba, an emerging talent on the Japanese Para Equestrian scene, who will be competing with his horse Exclusive. Inaba competed at the 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Tryon (USA) where he finished 14th in the individual test for his Grade. He has shown that he has what it takes to reach the podium, winning individual and freestyle medals at international competitions held in Gotemba (JPN) in 2019.

Currently ranked World No.1 in Grade III, Tobias Thorning Joergensen (DEN) was the breakthrough star of the 2019 FEI Para Dressage European Championship in Rotterdam (NED), winning gold medals in the individual and freestyle tests with his horse Joelene Hill, as well as team bronze. Joergensen is following in the footsteps of his mother Line Thorning Jorgensen, who represented Denmark in Para Dressage at the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Paralympic Games.

Belgium’s Kevin Van Ham will make his debut following his impressive first major appearance at the 2019 FEI Para Dressage European Championship, where he placed fifth in the individual and freestyle competitions. Ranked World No. 7 in Grade V, Van Ham will be confident going into the Paralympics having topped the podium at the 3* international event in Grote-Brogel (BEL) in the individual and freestyle tests in June 2021.

Following the final selection, athletes will soon be making their way to Aachen (GER) for final training sessions and quarantine before continuing to Tokyo.

Quick link: Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games

Media contacts:

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

Stage Set for Olympic Team Jumping Battle

Jessica Springsteen and Don Juan van de Donkhoeve (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

Following the thrilling Individual Jumping Final in which Great Britain’s Ben Maher and Explosion W claimed gold, all of the horses presented at the second Jumping Horse Inspection were accepted, and the stage is now set for the Team competition to begin.

Further changes may be made before the competition begins, but to date the confirmed pre-competition changes are as follows:

  • For Argentina, Fabian Sejanes is out and Matias Albarracin comes in
  • For Belgium, Niels Bruynseels is out and Pieter Devos comes in
  • For Brazil, Yuri Mansur is out and Pedro Veniss comes in
  • For China, You Zhang is out and Yaofeng Li comes in
  • For Czech Republic, Kamil Papousek is out and Ondrej Zvara comes in
  • For Egypt, Abdel Said is out and Mohamed Talaat comes in
  • For France, Mathieu Billot is out and Simon Delestre comes in
  • For Great Britain, Scott Brash is out, his horse was withdrawn and therefore not presented, and Holly Smith comes in
  • For Germany, Christian Kukuk is out and Maurice Tebbel comes in
  • For Ireland, Cian O’Connor is out, his horse was withdrawn and therefore not presented, and Shane Sweetnam comes in
  • For Morocco, Ali Ahrach’s horse USA de Riverland is out and will be replaced by Golden Lady
  • For Mexico, Manuel Gonzalez Dufrane is out and Patricia Pasquel comes in
  • For New Zealand, Uma O’Neill is out and Tom Tarver-Priebe comes in
  • For Switzerland, Beat Mandli is out and Bryan Balsiger comes in
  • For USA, Kent Farrington is out and McLain Ward comes in

A total of 19 teams will compete in the first Team competition and the order of go is as follows:

1, Czech Republic; 2, China; 3, Japan; 4, Israel; 5, Mexico; 6, Argentina; 7, Morocco; 8, New Zealand; 9, Ireland; 10, Egypt; 11, France; 12, Sweden; 13, USA; 14, Great Britain; 15, Brazil; 16, Switzerland; 17, Belgium; 18, Germany; 19, Netherlands.

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Individual Gold for Wedding-Bell-Bound Ben

(L to R): Peder Fredricson SWE (silver), Ben Maher GBR (gold), and Maikel van der Vleuten NED (bronze). (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

“I don’t know what was more pressure, this or getting married in two weeks!” said Great Britain’s Ben Maher as he clutched the Individual Jumping gold medal he just won at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Baji Koen.

“It doesn’t seem real. I think it will sink in tonight or tomorrow when I wake up. It’s been a lot of pressure the last couple of weeks. I may be biased but I believe I am on the best horse; he’s incredible and I’m very fortunate to be able to ride him,” said the 38-year-old athlete. Few of the other riders would argue about that.

With the 12-year-old Explosion W, he was already leading the posse after the qualifying competition, so he had the best of the draw when last to go in the first round. And having made the cut into the six-horse jump-off, he simply out-ran all the rest, Sweden’s Peder Fredricson having to settle for silver with All In at their second Olympic Games in a row, while The Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten and Beauville Z took the bronze.

Jump-Off

Course designer, Spain’s Santiago Varela, outdid himself once again with a first-round track that tested courage, scope, and speed, and six of the 30 starters, including a staggering three from Sweden, qualified for the jump-off.

IOC President Thomas Bach was one of a number of IOC dignitaries onsite at the Equestrian Park, and was very happy to watch the jump-off from the athletes’ tribune.

All six jumped clear again, and when pathfinder Daisuke Fukushima crossed the line with Chanyon in 43.76 seconds to set the first target it was a huge moment for the sport in Japan. Sweden’s Malin Baryard-Johnsson was next to go with her feisty mare, Indiana, who broke the beam three seconds quicker, but then compatriot Peder Fredricson raised the bar to a whole new level with a beautifully-executed run that saw him race across the line with All In in 38.02 seconds.

All eyes were on Maher who was next to go. The four-time Olympian who won team gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a formidable competitor, and with Explosion W is in a class of his own. He knew the expectations were high, but he handled it with grim determination and his brilliant 12-year-old gelding got him home in 37.85 seconds which never looked possible to beat.

Last of the Swedes, Henrik von Eckermann gave it his best shot with King Edward who stopped the clock in 39.71 seconds. That seemed plenty good enough for bronze, but Dutchman Maikel van der Vleuten set off with his jaw set square and steered Beauville Z home in 38.90 seconds to squeeze him off the podium.

No expectations

“It’s amazing because I came here with no expectations!” van der Vleuten said. “I have quite an inexperienced horse at championship level, and as we all saw yesterday, there is an extremely strong field here with many horses in good shape and how often in the past you do a good jump-off and you get fourth or fifth, and it was also not difficult today to get fourth or fifth. I was trying to go for it without overdoing him and it worked out well. I think the first two combinations (Maher and Fredricson) many people would have thought they had a big chance; they have so much experience and are fantastic riders, so to be third with this horse at this level is a little bit like gold for me!”

Fredricson was happy with silver, but it wasn’t the target. “All the top riders want to take the gold medal but today it was Ben’s day; he did a great round and that’s the way it goes; it’s really small margins.” Britain’s Nick Skelton pipped him for gold at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, but the following year All in won the Individual European title before an injury in December 2017 left the horse out of action for 18 months. He only came back into competition work in April this year.

“I always had it in mind to have him in top shape here, but we were running a bit late with Covid and then the horse virus, and I was running out of time to get him the last bit of competition fit. I would say he just came into a peak when he came here. He jumped great yesterday, and today when I took him out, he was really good again,” he said of the 15-year-old horse whose track record also includes team silver at those European Championships four years ago.

Fifth equestrian medal

Maher’s gold is Great Britain’s fifth equestrian medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, and only the second Individual gold his country has claimed since Jumping joined the Olympic Games in 1912. Compatriot Nick Skelton was the first Briton to win the Individual title when reigning supreme five years ago in Brazil. Only Britain and Germany have ever won back-to-back Individual Olympic Jumping titles, Ludger Beerbaum (Classic Touch, Barcelona 1992) and Ulrich Kirchhoff (Jus de Pommes, Atlanta 1996) posting Germany’s consecutive victories.

The new champion said, “There are so many people I owe this to in the end; obviously Explosion is the main one but there are vets, farriers that have been with me for 15 years, my team back home, Cormac Kenny who is my groom. He came to me from Ireland when he was 16 and he grew up with me and he’s here to be a huge part of this moment. My family, my fiancée Sophie – we are getting married in two weeks’ time – so many people. I’m looking forward to getting home and having a great celebration!” Maher said.

Facts and Figures:

Youngest athlete was 22-year-old Harry Charles from Great Britain.

Oldest athlete was 61-year-old Geir Gulliksen from Norway.

14 fences, 17 jumping efforts.

Great Britain has now claimed a total of 5 equestrian medals so far at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The horse Kilkenny, ridden by Cian O’Connor (IRL), had a nosebleed (epistaxis). The nine-year-old Irish-bred gelding, which completed the course with just a single time fault, was checked by veterinarians immediately after the competition and, as a precaution, the horse will go to the onsite Veterinary Clinic for a further examination.

Under the FEI Jumping Rules, blood on the flanks or in the horse’s mouth results in elimination; however, equine epistaxis is not a cause for elimination.

The horse Kilkenny has been withdrawn from the Team competition which begins on Friday.

Quotes:

Peder Fredricson, talking about All In: “When it’s really tough he really delivers; he’s so naturally careful. He’s a funny character: lazy combined with really strong flight sense; he has lot of personality for a small horse, but that doesn’t matter when he jumps like this!”

Scott Brash, Great Britain, who missed out on a place in the jump-off when picking us just a single time fault in the first round: “I’m gutted really, but I thought the course was built very well; he’s done a very good job, the course builder. To get six clears is spot on.”

Results here:  https://tokyo2020.live.fei.org/

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Edge-of-the-Seat Start to Battle for Individual Jumping Medals

Ben Maher and Explosion W. (FEI/Arnd Bronkhorst)

There was an edge-of-the-seat start to Jumping at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with fluctuating fortunes in the opening first Individual competition. Only 30 of the 73 starters could qualify for the Individual medal-decider, and with many horses finding the atmosphere electrifying and the fabulous course of fences more than mesmerising, even the best of the best admitted that the 14-fence challenge was a big one. The colour and creativity of Santiago Varela’s course was nothing short of spectacular, and he gave them plenty to jump too.

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs was partnering his superstar Clooney, who carried him to Individual glory at the European Championships in Rotterdam two years ago, but he still found the opening competition a big test.

“The course itself wasn’t super tricky, but what makes it difficult is that it’s the Olympic Games; the pressure is there; Clooney feels the pressure and I feel it; the rideability wasn’t as it should have been. But usually, he gets better from day to day and I think now we have the most difficult round of the week behind us,” Fuchs said.

Roar of approval

The was a big roar of approval when Japan’s Daisuke Fukushima produced the first clear of the competition when seventh to go with Chanyon, and the host nation were hugely impressive when all three of their riders made the cut to the Individual showdown. Other nations who also have three riders through are Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, and Sweden, while Fuchs will be joined by Swiss compatriot Beat Mandli and both Egypt and The Netherlands will also have two representatives.

Britain’s Ben Maher produced the fastest round of the night with Explosion W so has the best of the draw. “We’ve been waiting a long time and we’ve been edgy to get going. It was a big enough course today and a lot of horses are a little bit spooky. I don’t know whether it’s the new jumps or the lights and I felt that with him. This is my most nervous round of the week. He’s a horse that improves as the rounds go on, so he was having a little look today, but he’s naturally a fast horse and he did everything he needed to do,” Maher said.

Second-fastest of the night was Ireland’s Darragh Kenny riding Cartello. “Not a lot of people know the horse – this is only my sixth FEI show with him; I’ve only had him since May,” Kenny pointed out. “He was with Irish riders before so he was in Irish ownership for the Olympics. Cormac Hanley and Lorcan Gallagher rode him and they both had great success with him; he’s been a good horse for everybody. He jumped great in Rome (ITA) and Madrid (ESP) over the last couple of months, but this week will be a big ask. But he feels up to it and we’ve had a great start,” he added.

Costly

There were four eliminations and four retirements during the competition, with the turn to the white vertical at fence 10 proving costly for several riders, the large Sumo Wrestler holding up the left-hand wing possibly something of a distraction here.

Penelope Leprevost, a member of the gold medal winning French team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, was one of its victims when Vancouver de Lanlore had a run-out. “I was trying to relax the horse on the turn and he was maybe surprised when he found himself so close to the vertical,” she said.

The only French rider through is Nicolas Delmotte with Urvoso du Roch, but for Team USA this was a bit of a shock. The side of Jessica Springsteen, Kent Farrington, and Laura Kraut were expected to be major players at these Games but none of them have qualified for the next stage of the Individual competition.

As Farrington said, “A harsh reality of our sport is one rail down and you’re out. In the new format tonight, it was all or nothing and unfortunately for the American team right now it’s nothing!”

Pressure

Olympic pressure is nothing new, and Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs talked about that.

“I was feeling a little nervous Sunday and Monday night, and yesterday I had a good talk with the sports psychologist for the Swiss team and he really helped me to ease the feeling a bit. I told him I’ve never had this feeling before, being nervous: it’s totally new to me. He gave me a few small but good advices and it helped me a lot.

“He asked me what was the problem. I told him on Sunday after the warm-up, I felt so excited because Clooney felt so good and thought, OK now we can win a medal. This carried me through the night and woke me up a couple of times and he said, Martin, what are you here for? I said to win a medal. He said, no, what are you doing here? I said, I ride. He said, exactly, you ride. You don’t need to think; we have other people to think; the Swiss team brought you here to ride and not to think, so just get on your horse and ride and leave the rest to the smart people!”

Quote:

Great Britain’s Ben Maher, talking about his recovery from surgery last year and his return to competitive sport:

“I struggled for a long time after a couple of falls in 2018/19. I had to have a physio travelling with me all the time and couldn’t walk very well; actually, on a horse I felt more comfortable, but life wasn’t much fun. So it was planned six months in advance and I had lower back surgery in London in January 2020, and I’m a new person now.

“I was nervous for a while if being healthier might make me worse in the ring, but it’s all good! I was in the gym a week later and back in saddle about nine weeks later. I rode two classes and then Covid kicked in and very little happened last year, so I’m really happy to be here.”

Results here:  https://tokyo2020.live.fei.org/

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

British Take Team Title and Krajewski Grabs Individual Gold for Germany

Julia Krajewski with Amande de B’Neville. (FEI/EFE)

Britain’s Oliver Townend, Laura Collett, and Tom McEwen were in a league of their own when cruising to Eventing team gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Baji Koen Equestrian Park. This was their country’s fourth team title, but it’s been a very long wait since Richard Meade, Mary Gordon-Watson, Bridget Parker, and Mark Phillips stood top of the podium a full 49 years ago in Munich in 1972. Australia took the silver, while the defending champions from France claimed the bronze.

Germany’s Julia Krajewski has entered the equestrian history books as the very first female athlete to take the Individual Olympic Eventing title. When the Games last took place in Tokyo back in 1964, the USA’s Lana du Pont was the first woman to compete in the three-day event, so female firsts and the Tokyo Olympics seem to be intrinsically linked.

In the battle for the remaining Individual podium places, it was Britain’s Tom McEwen who took the silver while Australia’s Andrew Hoy clinched the bronze. Hoy’s result is nothing short of sensational, because the three-time team gold medallist has a staggering record of participation at eight Olympic Games dating all the way back to Los Angeles in 1984. He was only 25 years old back then, and at the age of 62 now he’s as competitive as ever.

Team

Tom McEwen paved the path to Britain’s team victory with a superb round from Toledo de Kresker over the first of Santiago Varela’s beautifully decorated tracks. He was filled with confidence that his team-mates would do the rest of the work without difficulty.

A four-fence advantage and more after the previous day’s cross-country test had left his side sitting comfortably ahead, and as it turned out his confidence was not misplaced.

“He was incredible,” he said of his 14-year-old horse. “I just put him on the spot and he was up and away. Everyone that follows Eventing knows he’s a great jumper, so it’s just up to me on top,” he added.

However, team-mate Laura Collett had a scary moment when London 52 baulked at the water tray at fence four and scattered poles everywhere before regaining his equilibrium. “He started like his normal self, but just as I came around the corner, the light shone on the water and he suddenly started to draw back ,and I was quite far off it and he just went up and paddled. I was lucky he’s such a great jumper and it didn’t faze him, and he got it back together and finished really nicely. I’m gutted and it’s a shame, but I think it could have been a whole lot worse! I just hope I haven’t put too much pressure on Oliver,” she said.

Pressure

It’s difficult to put too much pressure on Oliver Townend, who was heading the Individual rankings going into the closing stages after a sensational run in both Dressage and Cross-Country with Ballaghmor Class. The first element of the double at fence nine, four fences from home, hit the floor, but that still left Team GB finishing on a score of 86.30 and under no threat from their closest rivals.

The real battle was played out between Australia and France, Kevin McNab opening the Aussie account with a foot-perfect run with Don Quidam, before Shane Rose’s Virgil also fell victim to the first element of fence nine. Meanwhile, Nicolas Touzaint and Absolut Gold, who were part of the gold medal winning French side at the Rio 2016 Games, returned with just 0.4 for time, while second-line rider Karim Florent Laghouag faulted only at the first element of the triple combination at fence five.

The two sides had the started the day with a hair’s breadth between them, and even though Frenchman Christopher Six was clear and clean with Totem de Brecey, Andrew Hoy made no mistake with Vassily de Lassos to bag the silver when last to go, the two sides separated by just 1.3 penalties.

IOC Vice-President and Chair of the Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020 John Coates was on hand to see Australia take team silver and offered his congratulations to the three team members.

Individual

The Individual finale was truly gripping as the top 25 slogged it out. Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto collected just 0.4 penalties when seventh-last to go with the lovely Vinci de la Vigne, and when France’s Christopher Six faulted at the last of the triple combination on the new course, Tomoto began to move up the order.

Colletts’s bay gelding left the last two fences on the floor, but when Hoy followed with a clear the top three had absolutely no breathing space. McEwen didn’t need any when executing yet another regal tour of the track, but Townend’s luck ran out, his 4.8 penalties pushing him off the podium.

Last in, Krajewski could have been completely overwhelmed, but held her nerve to deliver a fabulous round from the mare she calls Mandy. She would take the top step of the podium and her place in equestrian history, ahead of McEwen and Hoy in silver and bronze.

The 32-year-old rider who is based in Warendorf, Germany has had a really tough year, beginning with the passing of her father, and then having to retire her top horse Samurai du Thot after he had his eye removed due to a lingering infection. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games seemed an impossible target after that, but when the young mare she calls Mandy won the CCI4* in Saumur, France and the pair took bronze at the German Championships in the spring, suddenly the horizon was completely altered. And now she finds herself an Olympic champion.

A fairytale finish

“It’s the stuff that movies are made of, and yes I cried, because I was thinking of my family and my father and basically everyone who has been behind me. This is very much a fairytale finish for me!” she said.

Silver medallist McEwen is 30 years of age and looks set on a long road of further success, while Hoy was keen to declare that he’s not hanging up his boots anytime soon.

“When I started in the sport, I was really proud of being the youngest person in the team and now it’s just an absolute joy that I’m still here and so healthy. When people meet me in the Olympic Village they say, you are an official, are you? And they look a bit surprised when I say no, I’m an athlete!”

He has enjoyed these Games as much as any and was full of praise for the organisation. “Without doubt, the Japanese people, the country of Japan, and the city of Tokyo deserve the biggest gold medal for putting these Games on. The effort they’ve gone to is incredible, and it’s a privilege to be here,” he concluded.

Quotes:

Julia Krajewski GER: “I won my first Pony title 20 years ago and since then it’s been a roller-coaster really. It’s quite unreal.

“Going in last tonight, I wasn’t thinking about Olympic gold. I said we’re going to do a great round like jumping at home and that is all.”

Oliver Townend GBR, talking about winning team gold: “It’s very unreal and hasn’t sunk in yet, but at the same time we were three riders on exceptional horses and that’s what’s been so special. All three of us have been on horses of a lifetime and we knew that coming here we had a very good chance.

“Looking back at whole week, I feel relieved and very proud of the whole team, not just the people here, but the whole team at home, people who put in the hard graft every day – they deserve this as well.”

Laura Collett GBR, talking about winning team gold: “Being on the podium was a completely surreal experience. I’m a bit lost for words; just to be here at an Olympics is a dream come true let alone win a gold medal. It’s going to take a few days, weeks, months for this to actually sink in.”

Andrew Hoy AUS: “We’ve got the most wonderful relationship, this horse and me. He was so fresh, he was having a little buck in the warm-up; it’s as if I did a dressage schooling exercise with him yesterday. “We got the horse on 13th May 2017, the day Steffi and I got married, so an easy day to remember. Got him from Tom Carlile and for me it’s an absolute joy to work with him every day: every day he puts a smile on my face.”

Shane Rose AUS: “We’re all mates on this team, so you ride everyone’s highs and lows with them, but we obviously think team first in Australia and how you perform individually affects your team-mates, so you always want to give your best foot forward. So for me watching them do well is great, and if I or they has a bad moment, you feel that with them. In Eventing, we don’t get team opportunities very often. I’m based in Australia and these guys are based in Europe, so we only get to see each other every few years, and when we do come together, it’s amazing how quickly we bond.”

Karim Florent Laghouag FRA: “This team medal is very emotional. I miss having the public and would like to share this medal. All the team have received lots of messages and support, and we are very grateful for the support and want to thank all the people that encouraged us. This medal belongs to them too!”

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+

Townend Back on Top and British Hold onto Lead after Cross Country Day

Oliver Townend. (FEI/Christophe Taniere)

World number one, Great Britain’s Oliver Townend, regained the individual lead he established on the first day of the Dressage phase with a perfect ride on Ballaghmor Class on Cross Country day of Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 at Sea Forest. And with foot-perfect performances from team-mates Laura Collett (London 52) and Tom McEwen (Toledo de Kresker), the British team go into the final Jumping phase with four fences in hand over their nearest rivals.

Oozing confidence, and riding at the top of their game, they look unstoppable for gold. But Townend wasn’t taking anything for granted. With the second horse inspection still ahead in the morning, and a course of coloured poles to be tackled later in the day, he voiced a note of caution.

“This is a three-day sport, and you never know what you’ve got until you’re in the ring on the last day,” he said.

Snatched away

His individual lead had been snatched away by Germany’s Michael Jung as the Dressage phase drew to a close, but the double Olympic champion lost his grip on the top spot when triggering the frangible device at the corner element of fence 14, the Lone Tree Moguls, on an otherwise faultless tour of the track with Chipmunk. The German National Federation lodged a protest against the resulting 11 penalties immediately after the cross country, but the protest was dismissed by the Ground Jury.

Compatriot Sandra Auffarth’s gelding, Viamant du Matz, had a glance-off at the final element of fence nine, a left-hand corner that followed a bank out of water for 22.4.

“It came up very quickly at the beginning of course; he was super fresh and I turned a little bit too early to the step,” Auffarth said. “He’s so quick in his turns, and I came too much to the inside of the line and I think he just was not seeing the question at the corner.”

German pathfinder Julia Krajewski made no mistake with Amande de B’Neville, however, and goes into the final phase in silver medal spot. But the German team have dropped from second to sixth and look well out of medal contention.

Contrast

In stark contrast, both Australia and France enjoyed a superb day with spectacular performances that lifted them into silver and bronze medal spots. Lying sixth after Dressage, the Australians added just the 2.8 time penalties picked up by Kevin McNab and Don Quidam when both Shane Rose (Virgil) and Andrew Hoy (Vassily de Lassos) both kept a clean sheet.

Hoy was stopped on course when Swiss athlete Robin Godel’s Jet Set pulled up very lame after jumping the Mt Fuji water complex five from home. (See statement here.)

The Sydney 2000 Olympic team gold medallist was grateful for the cooling facilities that kept his 12-year-old gelding safe while they waited on course. “It was excellent because until I got under the tent, I could feel his temperature rising all the time. When you are galloping, you have wind in your face and on your body so you stay very cool. But as soon as you stop you don’t have that, so your temperature rises. Vasilly’s temperature went up half a degree from when it was first taken in the cooling area, but it was still very low and his heart-rate was back to 100. He’s phenomenally fit,” said the man who is competing in his eighth Olympic Games.

Defending

The French are defending the Olympic team title, but things hadn’t been going their way until Christopher Six (Totem de Brecey) added just 1.6 time penalties to his scoreline, Nicolas Touzaint (Absolut Gold) was just over the time-allowed of 7.45 minutes to add 0.4, and anchorman Karim Florent Laghouag (Triton Fontaine) was clear inside the time. On a running score of 97.10, they are now just over a single penalty point adrift of the Australians, trailed by New Zealand (104.00) in fourth, USA in fifth (109.40), and Germany in sixth (114.20).

With just their combined Dressage marks of 78.90, however, the British look well in command. Laura Collett lies in bronze medal spot individually after a great round with London 52, and feels the result has confounded her critics.

“I always said he’s a superstar and he just went out and proved to everyone just how good he is. I’m so relieved I did my job and to be selected on this team this year. I know everyone at home will understand this; we’ve had to fight for our place and he’s proved to everybody he well and truly deserved it, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of him!” she said.

The margins are small on the Individual leaderboard, however. Townend’s 23.60 leaves him just two penalty points ahead of Krajewski, and Collett is only 0.2 further adrift, with New Zealand’s Tim Price (Vitali) snapping at her heels carrying 26.80. Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto (Vinci de la Vigne) is on 27.50 and the third British team-member Tom McEwen on 28.90, only fractionally ahead of Australia’s Hoy in seventh spot.

Facts and Figures:

60 horse-and-athlete combinations started in the Cross-Country phase of Eventing.

49 completed the course.

2 Retired and 9 were Eliminated.

Sara Algotsson was announced as replacement for Ludwig Svennerstal on the Swedish team before the cross-country phase, but withdrew when the team was no longer viable due to elimination for Therese Viklund after a fall from Viscera at fence 18B.

The most influential obstacle on the 23-fence course was 14C, a left-handed corner that followed a large oxer, where there were two refusals and the frangible device was triggered seven times.

Quotes:

Oliver Townend (GBR): “Once I got into the course, I started to pick up very good quick fast distances, almost racing distances, to the straightforward fences and he answered beautifully.

“The earlier distances didn’t happen quite the way I imagined, like the first two waters; having said that, they were very comfortable distances, and I have a lot of trust in Derek di Grazia’s courses. I think the man is one of, if not the best in the world in what he’s doing, and even when I think a distance is going to be a certain way, I know even if it isn’t it’s going to be a safe distance.”

Michael Jung (GER): “I’m very happy; he was very good. I had a little mistake there (at fence 14). I didn’t realise it fell down, but when I galloped away from the fence, I heard the sound. It was quite a surprise for me. Everything else was really nice.”

Tim Price NZL, when asked what the course felt like: “It felt fast and furious, with lots of big jumps just around the corner! They come up the hill and even though they’ve warmed up over some fences, it sort of dawns on them that it’s actually another cross country day and not another training day, and it looks like it’s a fairly seriously day at the office and they have to absorb all that in about two minutes. Particularly on a young horse, you want to get them out on the track and let them find themselves, the rhythm, the breathing, the jump, the scope, and out here you don’t have time to give them an easy couple of minutes, so it’s asking quite a lot of a young horse.”

Andrew Hoy AUS: “As those that have seen Vassily run before, he’s just the most phenomenal horse cross-country. I had a really nice ride: up until the time I was stopped, it was really good, just fingertips, and I ride him in the same bridle and bit in all three phases; he’s just so on the ball and so focused.”

Results here:  https://tokyo2020.live.fei.org/

by Louise Parkes

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Executive Advisor
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Olivia Robinson
Director, Communications
olivia.robinson@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 35

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46+