Japan invests in elite dressage horses ahead of Rio Olympics

  • Olympic dressage horse Clearwater, who has recently been competed by Britain’s Lottie Fry, has been sold to Japan.

    The 18-year-old grand prix horse twice represented Denmark at the Olympic Games with Anne Van Olst and recently won two under-25 grand prix classes with Anne’s pupil, Lottie.

    The Danish warmblood gelding was bought from Ton Kies by Tsunehiro Shimoda for his 39-year-old son, Akihiro, to ride.

    Since clinching Rio team qualification at Perl CDI in Germany last September, Japan has been investing heavily in its equine armoury ahead of the FEI 15 January deadline for change of ownership.

    Clearwater, who helped Denmark win team bronze at the 2008 Hong Kong Olympics, returned to competition for the first time since the London 2012 Olympics last month. He scored 69% and 71% at Roosendaal Indoor CDI in Holland with Lottie.

    “He is very special — I said goodbye to him with tears in my eyes,” Anne told H&H.

    “When Lottie first rode him 18 months ago she found him too big and powerful, but the more she trained and became stronger, the better he went for her. He has taught her so much.

    “Akihiro rode him very well and the nice thing for me is that I know the Shimoda family well as I also sold them my Barcelona Olympic horse, Chevalier, 20 years ago.”

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    Joining Clearwater in the Japanese camp is Dutch rider Imke Schellekens-Bartels’ number one horse, Toots, who has been sold to Akane Kuroki.

    The 37-year-old will campaign the gelding alongside his other grand prix horse, Don Luka.

    Imke, who announced in November that she is pregnant with her first child, will continue to train the pair at Academy Bartels in Holland, where Kuroki is based.

    A spokesman for the family told Eurodressage: “Partly because of Imke’s pregnancy, a qualification for Rio was less realistic this year. Imke has decided to sell [Toots] in good agreement with the owners, so that he still has a chance to qualify for Rio [for Japan].”

    Another schoolmaster to change hands is German rider Christoph Koschel’s grand prix ride, Tiesto. The gelding has been leased to the reigning Japanese national grand prix champion, Kiichi Harada, who switched from eventing to dressage in 2014.

    Japan did not field a dressage team in London 2012, but individual rider Hiroshi Hoketsu made headlines when, at the age of 71, he was Games’ oldest competitor. In addition to its Rio dressage ticket, the nation – which has Tokyo 2020 in its sights – has also secured team qualification for showjumping.

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