H&H’s rider of the day: Kazuma Tomoto – ‘My horse was just amazing; I’m so proud’

  • Kazuma Tomoto, the Japanese rider who took up eventing just five years ago, enjoyed a phenomenal week at his home Olympic Games in Tokyo. The 38-year-old, who was originally a showjumper, finished fourth in the Olympic eventing competition, riding the 12-year-old Vinci De La Vigne.

    Kazuma and Vinci De La Vigne were seventh after the first dressage phase on a score of 25.9. They then added just 1.6 cross-country time penalties to climb two places into fifth, and on the final showjumping day today (2 August), they incurred four jumping penalties in the first round, but swiftly followed this up with a clear jumping performance in the second round, which proved very influential, adding just .4 of a time penalty to their score, which was good enough to finish into fourth place.

    Kazuma Tomoto: the rider’s perspective on his Olympic performance

    “I think we did a really good job and my horse was just amazing – I’m so proud,” Kazu said after his final showjumping round. “It was a real shame not to have any spectators here, but still there were so many Japanese volunteers, cheering for me so I’m really, really happy.”

    Kazuma Tomoto is based in Britain with William Fox-Pitt.

    “He always gives me great advice, especially big events like this,” Kazuma said of William. “He always says nothing is a problem and so it is easy for me to be as normal as usual – it was really helpful for me.”

    William, who was in Tokyo supporting Kazuma, was full of praise for his eventing protégé.

    “He’s got a great eye and a very good feeling with a horse,” William explained when asked what makes Kazuma so good. “He’s been with me for all this time and I’ve never seen him get angry with a horse once – he is so patient and so calm, and I think that makes a big difference. I think his temperament is amazing.

    “Yes, he needs to learn about course walking and training and fitness and lots of other things, because you know, five years ago he’d never jumped a log – he’s come from here [Japan], jumping showjumps on the sand, but he’s got a very natural feeling and the Japan Racing Association [who own Kazuma’s horses] have done an amazing job finding him some good horses. So he was very lucky with their lovely horses, it’s been been fantastic.”

    William said that Kazuma has put in a great performance at these Games.

    “To be honest, he couldn’t have ridden any better. He had one unlucky pole down, but he did nothing wrong. It was just that lots of people knocked that fence – why? Who? How’d you know? That is just this sport, and that moment was an unlucky moment because for me, ‘Kazu’ jumped two clear rounds today.”

    William admitted that to finish fourth at an Olympic Games is one of the unluckiest positions to be in, with a medal so tantalisingly close – just 2.3 penalties in Kazuma’s case.

    “No one wants to be fourth at an Olympics – it is the worst possible position to finish. So I was hoping he wouldn’t be fourth – I wanted him to be fifth, so poor Kazu to be fourth – it was so close. What he’s achieved is phenomenal and he’s got some lovely horses and we’re really hoping to look forward to the future with the World Equestrian Games next year and Paris 2024.

    “I don’t teach him to ride as he can do that so well – he is the one that’s just taken everything on and he’s learned – we can do the veterinary, fitness, farrier, feeding, the studs and all the packing. He is the man that produces the results so we’re all very emotional.”

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