Tag Archives: Tom McEwen

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

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Tom McEwen Still in the Lead after Cross-Country at Pau 5-Star Event

Image copyright Nicolas Hodys.

Elated after the semi-finals of the rugby World Cup, the English can also be delighted with the performance of their riders on the cross-country riders in the CCI 5*-L at the Pau 5-Star eventing competition, one of the six most demanding of its kind in the world. Already in first place after the dressage test in the equestrian triathlon, British rider Tom McEwen on his French mount Toledo de Kerser maintained his lead, with just 0.8 penalty points on the cross-country course for overshooting the authorized time. He rode home ahead of his compatriot Alexander Bragg on Zagreb, the only horse-rider pair to complete the course without a single mistake and within the authorized time. Australian rider Christopher Burton on Quality Purdey came in third with 2 penalty points. The highest-ranking French rider after two out of three tests, Olympic team champion Mathieu Lemoine, ranks ninth on Tzinga d’Auzay. It’s the young mare’s first CCI 5*-L competition, at the highest level in the international eventing competition classes defined by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI).

Since 2015, victory has always gone to a French rider: Astier Nicolas (Piaf de B’Neville) in 2015, Maxime Livio (Qalao des mers) in 2016, Gwendolen Fer (Romantic Love) in 2017, and Thibault Fournier (Siniani de Lathus) last year.

Tom McEwen (GBR):

“The course rode exactly as I expected it to when I walked it yesterday: very technical at the start, with lots of turns. The next section was more fluid and I really enjoyed riding the course. For the show-jumping competition tomorrow, I wouldn’t want any other horse: Toledo is a great jumper and it’s up to me to make sure I don’t make any mistakes.

“You had to be concentrated from start to finish when riding the course, because there were potential incidents all the way along. There were some imposing obstacles and sizeable jumps to negotiate at several different points, and there was nowhere really to make up lost time.”

Alexander Bragg (GBR):

“Zagreb is a big horse but hasn’t really got that big a stride. I had to be firmly in control and negotiate the combination fences without slowing him down too much or changing pace. It was a very fluid ride, and I really enjoyed it, especially as it’s the first time here in Pau that I finished within the authorized time.  He’s a great jumper too and in general he responds really well to the sunny French climate, the surface here and the crowds. So it’s going to be a nail-biting competition right up to the end.

“It was a perfect course, a course for riders who make decisive choices and totally assume them.  There was no room for half-choices, and that’s a sign of an intelligently designed course, a fair course for both horses and riders, but which can cause incidents as we saw today.”

Christopher Burton (AUS):

“I’d like to congratulate course designer Pierre Michelet who did an incredible job today. The course was amazing to ride, because it was difficult to ride home while the clock was still green. My horse was great today too, and we’ll do our best tomorrow too. She’s a good mare, but we know that here in Pau, the courses can be extremely technical so we’re crossing our fingers that everything will go well on Sunday.

“When riders have walked the course, I think they come away thinking that everything is feasible and it doesn’t look that difficult, but in the end, there were incidents on almost all the fences, which is a sign of a well-designed course, and an incredibly intelligent course designer.”

Mathieu Lemoine (FRA):

“Tzinga was tired at the end of the course, but I’m really pleased with her performance today. It was a demanding 5-star cross-country course and it was the first time she has competed at this level. As it is her first 5-Star event, I don’t know how she’ll recover before the show-jumping competition tomorrow, and it’s not easy to make a clean round on a show-jumping course with her. Anything could happen, but I’m really delighted with the way she rode today.”

Pierre Michelet (course designer):

“I knew that the first part of the course was going to slow the horses down. Then in the second part, where the riders can gallop through the training centre, the combination fences also slowed the pace. The surface was very soft as it has rained a lot over the last few days. If the surface had been dry, perhaps it would have been easier for the riders to complete the course within the authorized time and we would have had a few more zero penalty rides. Some of the riders perhaps underestimated the course and there were more difficulties than they first thought, like the water in the middle of the track, that looks simple, but caused a few incidents, just as I thought it would.”

Pascal Sayous (Organiser of the Pau 5-Star eventing competition):

“Pau is historically a very English town, and they proved it today before the record crowds we had here today, probably the highest attendance rate we’ve ever had at the Pau 5-Star event. It’s a real honour to work with a course designer like Pierre Michelet and when I ask him to set the difficulty at a certain level, he sets it exactly where I want it.”

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com

Tom McEwen Takes First Place after Dressage at the Pau 5-Star Event

Image copyright Nicolas Hodys.

British rider Tom McEwen, currently ranked world no. 12, takes first place at the top of the provisional leaderboard after dressage on Toledo de Kerser (24.0), just ahead of the New Zealander Tim Price, ranked world no. 3, riding Wesko (25.6). The highest-ranking French horse-rider pair, Arnaud Boiteau on Quoriano*ENE HN, comes in fifteenth place in the provisional rankings before the cross-country event (33.2).

Quote from Tom McEwen (GBR)

“I’m delighted to be in first place on the provisional leaderboard after the dressage test.  I could tell that my performance was very smooth, and I think that’s what the judges were looking for today. There’s a lot of good competition in the CCI 5*-L Pau 5-Star event, and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s cross-country event.”

On the cross-country course: “I really came here expecting a twisty track. But now I’ve walked it, it is tricky, but in general a really fluent track with some big fences and positive lines. I wouldn’t say that there are difficulties in one specific area: there are some really big questions all along the track. Perhaps the first water, with the sequence of five very close jumps in sequences: it’s a bit like doing Spring Garden at home, so you need to keep some energy for the end of the course. Then there’s a really big final fence with a difficult corner. The last water is perhaps also a difficulty.”

On Toledo de Kerser: “He’s a really great horse! The start and finish sections of the course are fairly twisty at the start and finish, but there are some really open stretches in the middle where you can make up time. Toledo knows how to handle it all so I’m feeling confident about tomorrow.”

You will find all the results here: https://www.worldsporttiming.com/results/les-5-etoiles-de-pau-2019-265/schedule.html

JULIETTE FEYTOUT PEREZ
juliette@blizko-communication.com