“Andrew Hoy, Olympic bronze medal” sounds pretty good to the British-based Australian rider and today, (2 August) he proved that age is just a number in equestrian sport when appearing at his eighth Olympic eventing competition, and claiming individual bronze and leading his team to silver at the Tokyo Games.
Aged 62, Andrew was riding the super-smart 12-year-old Vassily De Lassos, who is owned by Paula and David Evans, Andrew himself and his wife Stefanie. The pair produced a faultless performance throughout the competition to complete on their 29.6 dressage score.
Andrew Hoy on winning the Olympic eventing individual bronze medal
“It’s just extraordinary,” Andrew said. “This morning we had a little team meeting, and I didn’t realise that videos were sent through from the people that are at home and our two children, Philippa and Oscar, are at home with our nanny. Philippa, who turns four tomorrow, sent a message this morning saying, ‘Daddy, well done – you rode really good yesterday and I want you to bring home another medal’.
“I can’t say I did it for Philippa because the passion comes from within me, but I just have to appreciate David and Paula Evans for having the faith in me to work with us Vassilly De Lassos and we’ve just got the most wonderful relationship with the horse and myself.”
Andrew admitted that Vassily De Lassos was very fresh prior to the final showjumping phase, and not acting like he went across country yesterday.
“He was having a little buck in the warm-up, it’s like it’s as if I did dressage schooling exercise with him yesterday – he’s unbelievable.”
Andrew got the ride on Vassily De Lassos after Paula went for a Wobbleberry training day at Andrew’s yard in March 2017. Prior to that training day, where Paula actually ended up suffering a fall and breaking her arm, she and Andrew had never met.
“We got Vassily De Lassos on 13 May 2017 – the day that Stephanie and I got married,” explained Andrew. “I got him from [French rider] Tom Carlile, and it’s been an absolute joy for me to work with this horse every day – every day when I finish working with him, I have a smile on my face.”
Andrew said it was hard for him to pick a favourite from all of the great horses he has ridden over his lengthy and successful career, during which he has picked up three gold medals and one silver medal at Olympic level, but that Vassily De Lassos is “so special”.
“He’s very clever, he’s very quick and he’s got a very calm mind – I ride him with exactly the same bit and bridle for the dressage, the cross-country, in the showjumping, with no running martingale and we’ve just got this wonderful relationship. He’s got Anglo Arab in him and so he just runs and jumps, which definitely helps him and he helps keep me young.”
Andrew said that he isn’t bothered about people focusing on his age.
“I’m actually grateful people can still say how old I am, because when I started in the sport, I used to be really proud of being the youngest competitor or the youngest person in the team. And now, to be the oldest member of our team gives me absolute joy that I’m still so healthy. When people meet me in the Olympic village they say ‘so, what do you do? Are you an official?’, so it’s good to be able to say I’m an athlete.”
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