‘The bottom line is that he wants to do his job more than most horses’: Oliver Townend rides fabulous cross-country clear in Tokyo

  • Oliver Townend has got the British Olympic eventing team off to the best start possible start, completing the Tokyo Olympic eventing cross-country course clear inside the optimum time. This means that they maintain their individual silver medal position at least, with overnight leader Michael Jung, from Germany, and Chipmunk FRH, who are in individual gold medal position, still to come today (1 August).

    Olympic eventing cross-country: Oliver Townend result

    Riding Karyn Shuter, Angela Hislop and Val Ryan’s 14-year-old, Ballaghmor Class, Oliver finished inside the optimum time to complete on his 23.6 dressage going into the final showjumping phase.

    “We know this horse is special and anyone that watches eventing knows he is special and he digs deep,” Oliver said after his round. “Early on I thought he was slightly running away with me – in fact, in a couple of places I thought he was in control, but I sat behind him and tried to find good distances for him and once he got into the course I started picking up very good quick, big, fast distances – almost racing distances – to the straightforward fences and he answered beautifully.

    “His pedigree, but mentality, make him special more than anything – he is tough in every aspect of life, is quirky, but he is tough and the bottom line is that he wants to do his job more than most horses.

    “The distances didn’t quite happen quite how I imagined, just in the first two waters, but having said that, they were very comfortable distances and I have a lot of trust in designer Derek de Grazia’s courses. I think the man is one of, if not the best, in the world at what he’s doing. Even when I think the distance is one way, I know that even if it isn’t, it’s going to be a safe distance.”

    Oliver continued to explain his thoughts on the course today.

    “When you start, you look at the terrain, you look at the intensity, and more than anything, that if you get a couple of bad shots you’re losing time. There are six jumping efforts in the first minute, and I thought it was going to be tough, but then I convinced myself last night by myself, that it wasn’t,” he admitted.

    When Oliver was asked if he was going to impart his knowledge of the course to the remaining two Team GB riders, his answer was simple.

    “They know what they’re doing – they’ve got enough voices down there at the start – they don’t need my help. If they want it, I’ll tell them exactly what to do. But there’s plenty of people telling them what to do.”

    Although Oliver is in individual silver medal position at the moment, he’s not resting on his laurels.

    “I don’t enjoy these things until I’m on the plane on the way back home, and then I can enjoy it more than you can ever imagine.”

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