‘I’m annoyed I haven’t beaten Oli – but I’m really pleased’: Alex Hua Tian sets strong challenge in Olympic eventing dressage

  • China’s Alex Hua Tian and Don Geniro are sitting within a whisper of leaders Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class after the first group of riders on the opening day of Olympic eventing dressage at the Tokyo Games.

    The pair’s fluent test was peppered with eights and nines, earning the pair a score of 23.9, putting them within a single time penalty of British pathfinder Oliver, who is in provisional first place on a score of 23.6.

    “I was really pleased with him because he’s not good with a camera – and there are five around the arena,” said Alex, adding he is “very proud” of the 14-year-old gelding.

    “He was quite nervous the first arena familiarisation, and he just gets so tricky when he’s hot. The second arena familiarisation was better, and this time I really felt like he was looking, and it perhaps helped lift him a little bit, but he really tried to stay with me.

    “He had one little spook on that right medium canter, which he always does. For some reason in that right medium canter he’s always looking to spook at something, and 50% of the time he changes, so I was really pleased – he spooked, but he stayed with me and let me ride him so I’m very pleased. I’m annoyed that I haven’t beaten Oli though!”

    Japan’s Kazuma Tomoto and the 13-year-old mare Vinci De La Vigne set a strong challenge in the Olympic eventing dressage for the home nation, scoring highly in the canter and the walk to end the first phase on 26.1.

    The Swiss combination of Felix Vogg and Colero were the fourth combination to score in the 20s, keeping in touch with the leaders on a score of 26.7.

    Shane Rose and Virgil are in provisional fifth for Australia (31.7) and US rider Doug Payne and Vandiver provisional sixth (33).

    “I was very happy with Vandiver,” said Doug. “Of all three phases, this would be the toughest for him, but I think he put forwards a great effort and honestly, in the end, that’s all you can ask for. So, it’s pretty exciting to finally get that through and on to the next. There’s a lot more left. That’s for sure.”

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