Riding Ann Thompson’s Romeo 88, a 12-year-old gelding he’s only been jumping since the start of the year, Harry looked totally at ease in the Olympic amphitheatre, producing a beautifully polished clear.
Hot on his heels, Ben Maher and the 12-year-old Explosion W – hotly tipped as one of the favourites for a medal at the Tokyo Olympics – soared beautifully over every obstacle with typical panache. With Explosion’s naturally fast pace, the pair produced a fast clear of 81.34sec, making them the quickest combination and surely cementing their place in pole position for Wednesday’s medal decider.
“It was a big enough course today and a lot of horses were a little bit spooky – I don’t know if it’s the new jumps or the lights – and this is my most nervous round of the week as Explosion is a horse that normally improves as the rounds go on,” said Ben. “So he was having a little look today, but he’s naturally a fast horse and he did everything he needed to do.
“We have team tactics this week, but setting out on day one it’s looking very strong and we’re here to try and get a result.”
Great Britain’s third rider, Scott Brash, riding Lady Harris and Lady Kirkham’s smashing gelding Jefferson – known at home as “Jezz” – looked equally at home under the spotlights in the Olympic showjumping individual qualifier. The pair arrived in Tokyo in great shape with a couple of good grand prix wins under the belts, and jumped a spectacular clear in their first appearance of the week.
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