Full-time London lawyer Caroline Chew’s Olympic dream came to an end when she was eliminated from the Tokyo Olympic dressage grand prix under the blood rule (Article 4126.96.36.199 of the FEI dressage rulebook).
Her 17-year-old gelding Tribiani was midway through his test, when the judge at C – Francis Verbeek of the Netherlands – rang the bell and stepped out of the hut. The judge dabbed Tribiani’s lip with a wipe to show there was blood, and Caroline, who rides for Singapore, then left the arena at a walk.
Caroline believed her horse caught his lip in the corner before the one-time changes.
“It was a bit of a freak accident,” she said. “He was going all right and feeling good, presenting really well. Then he just caught his lip in the corner – I didn’t feel anything happen, but obviously the judge saw it and rang us out.”
It was a disappointing end to a “huge and unexpected” journey to the Olympics for Caroline. Not only was it her own Olympic debut, but she is the first Singaporean rider to compete in the Games.
“It was kind of miraculous we got here anyway, so I felt humbled and privileged to be the first Singaporean at the Olympic Games for an equestrian,” said Caroline, who had qualified at the last opportunity. “It’s a shame discussing how it ended. But it is what it is.”
Tribiani (Solos Landtinus x Landadel) had given Caroline a taste of the big time in the World Games in Tryon three years ago.
Caroline, who trains with Matt Frost in Gloucestershire, juggles working full-time for Freshfields in London with dressage training. During Covid, Caroline was able to stay at the yard and ride full-time. However, usually she is working in the office from Monday to Thursday, and then staying at the stable from Friday to Sunday.
“It’s a challenge for everyone involved, there’s been a lot of understanding from my coach Matt, and my work colleagues,” she said. “It’s been pretty severe sleep deprivation. But it’s great, I get to pursue both dreams.”
For most of 2020 and the first couple of months of this year, Caroline was back in Singapore because she thought she had not qualified for the Olympics. Despite the disappointing ending, Caroline has achieved a huge milestone for herself and her country.
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