Tales from Tokyo: ‘I used to be a wedding planner – but I don’t like weddings’

  • Italy’s Francesco Zaza, who made his Olympic debut today in the grand prix at Tokyo, spent two years working as a wedding planner before he opened his dressage stable.

    The 37-year-old started out in equestrianism as an event rider. He contested three young rider Europeans – winning a team bronze in 2003 – and the 2007 senior Europeans in Pratoni, riding Joli Roger III.

    In 2010, he gave up eventing and went to work as a wedding planner, but he found he wasn’t suited to this career path.

    “I didn’t like working in an office and I don’t like weddings – only my wedding!” he said.

    As dressage was the part of eventing that he loved most, he decided to open a dressage stable in his native Italy in 2012.

    Francesco Zaza started competing in international dressage competitions in 2017 and his Tokyo ride, Wispering Romance, is the only horse he has ever ridden in FEI dressage events.

    The bay mare by Weltmeyer belongs to Raimondo Bozzetti and Marco Montosi.

    “I’m very happy,” said Francesco after his test today, which scored 66.941%. “There were two big mistakes which made the score go down, but she was a little tired in the canter part. But it’s ok – she is 18 and it’s a miracle to be here.

    “It doesn’t feel real to be at the Olympics. It’s amazing, a super experience.”

    Francesco attributes Wispering Romance’s long career to the fact he uses elements of his experience of getting horses fit as an event rider in his training plan.

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