Top British riders head to Tokyo to test Olympic 2020 facilities

William Fox-Pitt and Georgie Spence will have Team GBR’s first taste of Tokyo as they take part in the Olympic test event next month.

William will ride Catherine Witt’s Summer at Fernhill and Georgie her own and Suzanne Doggett’s Halltown Harley (pictured) at the Ready Steady Tokyo event from 12 to 14 August.

William, who has represented Britain at five Olympics, said: “I am really excited to be asked to go to the test event, it will be one of life’s great experiences.

“I rode in the test event at London Olympics and that was a huge advantage for the real thing. I will also be there in a supporting role for Japanese rider Kazuma Tomoto, so am looking forward to seeing the event from all angles.”

Georgie, who finished second on Halltown Harley at the US Nations Cup leg last year and won the Austrian leg the previous year, said it was an honour for both herself and Ms Doggett to be invited to compete.

“The experience as a rider is going to be incredible and riding at the Olympic venue is something I will always be very proud of doing,” she said.

“Suzanne has been a huge support to me for a number of years and I’m very excited to share this with her. I know this means a lot to her, too. I’m really looking forward to the whole experience, which has already started with planning the journey, managing and planning for the conditions, and everything else that’s involved with preparation.”

The pair will be accompanied by their support teams and representatives from Team GBR, one of only a handful of national federations sending riders to the test event.

“An Olympic and Paralympic Games held in the height of summer in Tokyo is likely to present us with some unique challenges,” team GBR performance director Vikki Underwood said. “The test event provides us with the only opportunity to gather first-hand information on how we can optimally prepare and deliver success at the Games next year.

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“Team GBR have chosen to really invest in this opportunity in order to give us a performance edge, but we can only do so through the generosity of the horses’ owners, the riders willing to put themselves out to support the success of our team, funding from UK Sport, and the expertise of the human and equine sports scientists who have worked tirelessly to ensure we are testing the right things and gathering quality information.”

The dressage and showjumping phases will take place at the main equestrian park of the Japanese Racing Association in Baji Koen, which hosted the equestrian events at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, while the cross-country will take place at Sea Forest Park in Tokyo Bay.

Michael Jung and Andrew Hoy are also among those due to take part, while the cross-country track will be designed by Derek di Grazia, who will also be designing the Olympic course itself.

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