‘He loves the game’: Sam Watson and bold buckskin ride an attacking round in Olympic cross-country

  • Ireland’s Sam Watson rode a positive round in the Olympic eventing cross-country, but a frangible fence mid-course proved expensive.

    Sam and the 11-year-old Flamenco owned by Vahe Bogossian, attacked the course boldly following their “disappointing” score in the dressage of 34.2. But though they proved a confident combination across country, Flamenco activated a frangible device at the oxer before the open corner at fence 14, the Lone Tree Moguls, picking up 11 penalties. The pair also had some time penalties, finishing on a score of 47.3.

    Commenting on triggering the device, Sam said the safety devices are there to look after riders.

    “I fully approve [of the frangible devices] not just because they do that, but because they make you ride precisely and accurately,” he said.

    “It’s the one time I let adrenaline go – there’s the fence, inside line and then I got there just a fraction too early. I barely touched it. If your timing is off, if you rush a little bit, and if you don’t keep your head 100% relaxed, you make mistakes.”

    But Sam Watson was delighted with the gelding and his performance in the Olympic eventing cross-country, saying “he loves the game”.

    “There’s a couple of places, like the second water, where he took off out of my hands. He loves it. He kept his ears pricked the whole way forward. He just enjoys doing his job the whole way,” said Sam.

    “He really wanted to let loose and he did. I’m very, very proud of him, and he’s got so much more to give,” he said, adding he would be privileged to have the ride in Paris 2024.

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