Tokyo, Japan – After 60 horse and rider combinations attempted to make strong work of Derek Di Grazia’s track at Sea Forest Cross Country Course in the middle of Tokyo Bay, world number one, Great Britain’s Oliver Townend, was able to reclaim his individual lead with Ballaghmor Class, while two pairs retired and nine were eliminated. Townend’s other two teammates, Laura Collett with London 52 and Tom McEwen with Toledo de Kresker, laid down foot-perfect performances as well and Great Britain now goes into the show jumping phase with a four fence lead over the next team competitor.
Townend’s individual lead came on day one of competition and held until day two of dressage when it was snatched away by Germany’s Michael Jung. However, the German pair’s lead didn’t last that long when they ran into difficulty on the corner element of fence 14, the Long Tree Moguls. The rest of the run continued and Chipmunk was faultless. As soon as Jung finished cross country, the German National Federation lodged a protest against the resulting 11 penalties from fence 14, but the protest was then dismissed by the Ground Jury.
Both team Australia and France had a spectacular day of cross country with superb performances that lifted them into silver and bronze medal positions going into the final day of cross country competition. Lying sixth after Dressage, the Australians added just the 2.8 total time penalties that were picked up by Kevin McNab and Don Quidam while both Shane Rose with Virgil and Andrew Hoy with Vassily de Lassos kept a clean slate.
The French are trying to defend their Olympic title from 2016, but things had just not been going their way until cross country. Christopher Six and Totem de Brecey added just 1.6 time penalties to his scoreline while Nicolas Touzaint and Absolut Gold and were just over the time-allowed of 7.45 minutes and picked up 0.4 penalties and anchorman Karim Florent Laghouag with Triton Fontaine was clear over jumps and inside the time. Now, on a total of 97.10 penalties, they are just over a single penalty point behind that of the Australians when show jumping takes place tomorrow. Those two teams are trailed by New Zealand with 104.00 penalties and sitting in fourth and then the USA in fifth with 109.40 penalties. Germany follows right behind the USA in sixth position.
While only 49 pairs completed the course, the margins are still slim on the Individual leaderboard. Townend’s 23.60 leaves him just two penalty points ahead of Krajewski (GER) and Collett (GBR) is only 0.2 further behind. New Zealand’s Tim Price and his mount Vitali are snapping at her heels carrying a total of 26.80 penalties. Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto and Vinci de la Vigne are sitting on 27.50 and the third British team-member Tom McEwen on 28.90, only fractionally ahead of Australia’s Hoy in seventh spot.
United States Aims for Podium
The United States are still fighting for individual and team podium spots going into the final day. Erik Duvander, the team’s Chef d’Equipe, was pleased with how each combination tackled the course and ultimately improved their team position heading into the final day of competition. While Payne was first to go for the team with Vandiver, Payne was able to path find and give valuable feedback to his fellow teammates. Teammate Phillip Dutton also brings valuable addedness to the team as he returns for his seventh Olympic Games. With the stadium jumping phase next, the team’s goal is to focus on recovering the horses and are setting their sights on delivering for the U.S. once again.
Payne and Vandiver were the first for the team as just the third combination to test the course and came home with just 6.8 time faults and moving forward sitting on a 39.80. Dutton and Z galloped second for the team and they dashed through the course and finished with just 4.8 in time penalties and currently sit in the 17th spot going into show jumping.
The anchor combination, Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg, took to the cross country track mid-morning and galloped around with ease, adding just 3.20 in time penalties for a two-phase score of 34.30, which puts them just inside the top 15 going into the final day. After day three, the United States currently sits in fifth place with a total of 109.40 penalties and will carry that into the final day of competition with show jumping.
Eventing competition will conclude with team and individual medal honors being awarded. Team competition will take place first, beginning at 5:00 p.m. JST/4:00 a.m. EDT, before the top 25 combinations will return for a second jumping round for individual medals under the lights at Equestrian Park starting at 6:45 p.m. JST/5:45 a.m. EDT.
FROM THE WINNERS CIRCLE
Oliver Townend (GBR) –
On his cross country gallop:
“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) –
On his cross country gallop:
“I’m very happy, he was very good. I had a little mistake there (at fence 14), I didn’t realize 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) –
On the course:
“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 serious 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) –
On Vasily De Lassos:
“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.”
Doug Payne (USA) –
On his round.
“It was incredible right off the bat. I couldn’t be happier with Quinn, he’s got the biggest heart of any horse I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Although a little unconventional at times he always tries his heart out. That’s all you can ask for over a course like this.”
On the course:
“We expected to be down the first minute. He came though and was quite strong up through two and three. I was hoping we could catch up faster than we were able to, but at the end we were totally on empty so that’s all you can ask for.”
On the hot and humid conditions:
“You’re not thinking about that at the time, but without a double it is.”
On the time allowed and the weather:
“I’m sure it’s getable. The first minute you just have to accept that you’re going to be down and then it’s sort of how efficient and how quick you dare to be. When he starts to peter out a little bit you set up a hair longer and if you are sharper at the end you leave out a bit more. He was excellent though. Clear is the most important thing here with no drop scores. He pulled up really well. Even the temporary barns here have air conditioning. He will have the advantage to hang out in cooler temperatures a little longer. We’ll go from there.”
Phillip Dutton (USA) –
On his course:
“It went well. When you are going that fast you have to take a few chances. I had a little bit of a laugh at the last water. I got held on course which is not ideal, to have to stop and start again, but he’s a great little horse with a big heart and I don’t think it could have been much better.”
On the hold:
“I got held after Fence 12.”
On the conditions:
“It’s hard work, a lot of turns – accelerating, slowing down, but we knew that coming in. We tried to get the horses fit and prepared for that. We had a nice breeze, so that helped.”
On the team:
“You just do what you can and see what the results are at the end of the day. I gave Boyd as much feedback as I could and hopefully he’ll do a great job and we’ll see where we are at at the end of the day.”
Boyd Martin (USA) –
On Tsetserleg’s performance:
“It’s a big sigh of relief getting around well. Thomas tried his absolute heart out. It wasn’t a course that suited him that well with the twists and turns, but he dug deep. He finished well, and proud to be an American. Three American horses finished well today.”
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