Britain holds team and individual gold after first day of Olympic eventing dressage

  • Britain holds a 6.7-penalty lead in the team competition as well as the individual gold spot after the first day of Olympic eventing dressage at the Tokyo Games.

    Oliver Townend, the British pathfinder, scored 23.6 during the morning session with Karyn Schuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan’s Ballaghmor Class. He still holds the individual lead now that the day’s sport has concluded.

    “I’m very happy with my horse – we know he’s special and I’m just very grateful for him to do a clear round in there and a very safe test on my own terms,“ Oliver explained after his test.

    Britain’s second rider, Laura Collett was understandably disappointed after her test with Karen Bartlett, Keith Scott’s and her own London 52. The pair landed a mark of 25.8, which puts them fourth at this stage, but is a far cry from the 21 and 20.5 the pair have scored on their past two international appearances.

    Laura said: “He just sucked back a little bit and wasn’t really taking me. Obviously I know some people would be pleased with a 25, but on a horse like him it is a bit disappointing.

    “He is a show off – when we went to Bicton Horse Trials and it was the first time we had proper crowds for a bit, he definitely went in the arena and grew and loved it. Maybe that [atmosphere was] lacking a little bit and he didn’t realise that they were all watching at home on TV!”

    The Swedish team hold second, led by a test that scored 28 penalties from Louise Romeike and Cato 60.

    Individually Louise sits equal seventh in the Olympic eventing dressage rankings, just ahead of her compatriot Therese Viklund, who is ninth with her one-eyed mare Viscera. Louise shares seventh with today’s surprise sensation – Indian rider Fouaad Mirza, on the former Bettina Hoy ride Seigneur (usually known as Seigneur Medicott, but dropping the suffix due to Olympic naming rules).

    Fouaad is based in Germany with Sandra Auffarth, who suffered some disappointment riding as the second German team competitor today. She scored 34.1 for 27th – a far cry from the mid 20s tests she and Viamant Du Matz are capable of – and the German team sit fifth overnight, not the result the reigning European champions would be expecting.

    “I had good parts in it, but he was a little bit tense and at the end I had some expensive mistakes,” said Sandra, who was one of those who suffered today from the fact that the new special Olympic dressage test does not give much time for rebuilding if something goes wrong.

    “The transition from walk to canter, he started in left canter [when it should have been right] and then of course the next change came quite quickly, so I had to handle that and then he made a mistake in the next change. It’s a difficult test, but I was happy with the rest. Of course it’s disappointing, but the competition isn’t finished yet and we will keep going.”

    The individual top three from this morning’s session are unchanged. The German pathfinder Julia Krajewski still holds third place, behind Alex Hua Tian, whose strong test spearheads China’s effort – their team currently sit fourth.

    The bronze medal position is filled overnight by the Japanese team, with Kazuma Tomoto (Vinci De La Vigne) fifth and Toshiyuki Tanaka (Talma D’Allou) 20th.

    “He wasn’t a really soft mover in there, but he still did everything and I tried to make him more relaxed by not asking too much, just riding as usual, as if I was training at home,” said Kazuma, who is based with William Fox-Pitt.

    “William is especially helpful at big events like championships or Badminton – he understands everything, how to relax horses or help them recover.”

    The Olympic eventing dressage continues at 8.30am tomorrow local time (00.30am British time).

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