‘He’s just the most phenomenal horse’: Andrew Hoy boosts Australia into team silver after Olympic cross-country

  • The leaderboard faced a major shake-up in the final stages of the Olympic eventing cross-country, as big names like Andrew Hoy, Tim Price and Michael Jung influenced the order, with double Olympic champion Michael Jung clipping a frangible fence.

    Australia’s highest placed rider after the dressage, Andrew Hoy, had a “really nice” ride in the Olympic eventing cross-country on Vassily De Lassos. The pair were stopped on the course due to Swiss rider Robin Godel falling with Jet Set, but Andrew went on to finish on his dressage score of 29.6, firing the combination into the top 10. Andrew, here competing at his eighth Games, produced Australia’s second clear round of the day, following Shane Rose’s clear earlier.

    “He’s just the most phenomenal horse across country,” Andrew said of the 12-year-old Jaguar Mail son. “Right up until the time I was stopped it was really good. I ride him in the same bridle and bit in all three phases, and he’s so on the ball and focused.

    “When I was stopped, the cooling system was absolutely excellent – until I got under the tent I could feel the temperature rising all the time. It’s a very good barometer for me as to what the horse is doing, when you are galloping you have wind on your face and body so you stay very cool. As soon as you stop you don’t have that wind and so your temperature rises.”

    Olympic eventing cross-country: shocks and leaderboard shuffles

    New Zealand’s Tim Price climbed a place into the individual fourth spot after jumping clear, but taking home 1.2 time penalties.

    “It felt fast and furious with lots of big jumps just around the corner,” said Tim Price following his round with 11-year-old gelding Vitali.

    “It just hits them in the face, which is why it was always a bit of a risk for a young horse because they come up the hill and even though you’ve warmed up over some fences it sort of dawns on them this is actually cross-country day – it’s not another training day – and it looks like a pretty serious day at the office.”

    One of the biggest shocks of the day came when Germany’s Michael Jung, who sat in provisional individual gold with Chipmunk FRH on a dressage score of 21.1, picked up a frustrating 11 penalties after activating the frangible device at 14c, Lone Tree Moguls. He had an otherwise clear round inside the optimum time – but the penalty drops him to 10th place individually.

    “I’m very happy about Chipmunk,” he said, adding he had not initially realised the safety device had been triggered. “As I galloped away from the fence I heard a sound and it was quite a surprise for me but everything else was really nice.”

    Sarah Ennis and Woodcourt Garrison rounded off proceedings for Ireland with an expensive 37.6 penalties to add to their dressage score.

    Sarah said she found it “tight” in the warm-up for the 12-year-old gelding ahead of her round.

    “I’m not saying that’s an excuse. He’s just quite a buzzy horse. He headed out good, he jumped the first few really well,” she said, adding he became strong at the first water.

    “He jumped well again but after fence 13 I thought he got a bit tired and he was getting longer and heavier. I was cantering up to the drop and I had it in my head I probably should go long but I was really struggling to turn him. We got to the top of the drop, and I kind of loosened his jaw and he came back to me, popped off, and he just locked the jaw and for all of my life I could not turn him. I would have had to be 20 stone heavier!”

    Team Ireland finishes on a score of 161 for eighth place ahead of the showjumping, with Austin O’Connor producing the only clear on Colorado Blue.

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