Lausanne (SUI), 12 September 2011 – Japan has secured qualification for the Olympic Eventing next year following the London 2012 Eventing Team Qualifier for Asia-Pacific nations which took place at the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (GBR) from 8-11 September.
New Zealand, led by Clarke Johnstone, finished first in the team competition, but they are already qualified for London 2012 after claiming team bronze at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Kentucky (USA). The battle for the remaining slot was between Japan and Australia.
Japan fielded five riders, but their first, Yoshiaki Oiwa, was eliminated with a Cross Country fall. But Kenki Sato, Takeaki Tsuchiya and Atsushi Negishi all went clear and, at the end of Cross Country day, Japan had a four-penalty lead over Australia.
Australia became vulnerable after Lucinda Fredericks fell on the Cross Country and Bill Levett had a run-out, but the Australian their problems worsened when Brook Staples was eliminated for two refusals in the Jumping phase.
Japan’s best-placed rider, Kenki Sato, who was 16th overall in the CCI*** at Blenheim on Chippieh, said: “It’s a miracle. This is a dream come true for our country, and for my family, to qualify for the Olympics and go to Greenwich. I owe everything to my horse, and to Michael Jung [the German world champion with whom he is based] who trains me.”