‘It was fast and furious’: top riders share their thoughts on the Tokyo cross-country course

  • Today, the world’s top event riders and horses did battle in Tokyo for the Olympic eventing cross-country (1 August).

    The leaderboard has undergone a shake up, but Great Britain lead the way in the team and individual competition, with Australia in team silver ahead of France in bronze.

    Here, some of those competitors share their thoughts on how the track rode…

    Olympic eventing cross-country: what riders thought of the track

    Michael Jung 

    “The course was really nice to ride. The humidity was quite bad but much better than it was during the test event here [in 2019], so I think we were quite lucky with the weather today.”

    Tim Price

    “It was fast and furious with lots of big jumps just around the corner. It hit the horses in the face, which is why it was always a little bit of a risk for the younger horses, because even though you warmed up over some fences, you got out here and it sort of dawned on them this was cross-country day and not another training day – it was a pretty serious day at the office. With any difficult track you want to set out on course and give them a little moment or two at the beginning to find their rhythm, their breathing, their jump and their scope, but you had to keep squeezing from start to finish here with the shorter track of just seven minutes 45 seconds.”

    Tom McEwen

    “You could gallop and make up time down to fence 12 and use the hills in your favour there. The course rode amazingly and exactly how we thought it would. It was really nice to actually have a few open distances, but we thought we would be fine on three strides in the first water, but most people went on four, which was very interesting.”

    Laura Collett

    “It all just came up so quickly – you didn’t have a second to think really, which probably was a good thing. You just had to get on with it and get going. Everything came up as I walked and as we planned and that kept giving me the confidence at each combination. He just cruised the whole way and we knew from watching that we were going to be down on the optimum time in the first few minutes and then I opened him up and he just went.

    “If you blinked, you missed it and it was over. There was no time to dwell on anything and you were at the next question before you knew it. On the bits that we thought was a bit of a galloping stretch, suddenly you were like, ‘Oh my God, the fence is there already’. But it all worked out really well – you just had to get on with it.”

    Phillip Dutton

    “It was hard work, spending a lot of time accelerating and then slowing down, but we knew that was coming so we had to get the horses fit and prepared for that.”

    Boyd Martin

    “The heat knocked my horse around, for sure. Like in Kentucky, when it’s cold and we’re in the spring weather, they feel fresher, and I felt like he was a bit winded by the second minute here, which is unusual. Initially I was hoping for a longer course because I thought it would suit my horses with a lot of stamina and endurance, but I’m glad it wasn’t as it would have been an ugly picture.”

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