‘It just proves horses are not machines’: two stops in otherwise ‘fantastic’ Pratoni round for Olympic medallists

  • Olympic individual bronze and team silver medallists Andrew Hoy and Vassily De Lassos suffered the worst luck on the World Eventing Championships cross-country, with two problems on course.

    They incurred a total of 40 jumping penalties for the mistakes at 7C, at the bottom of the Slide, and at element C of the Longines Hydroconquest Combinations at fence 24. They also clocked up 14.8 time-penalties, putting them on a final score of 82.9.

    “It just proves horses are not machines,” Andrew said. “Vassily is an absolutely fantastic horse. He doesn’t lose any credibility, in my opinion, for what happened today; the rest of the round was absolutely fantastic, there were just two fences that weren’t and they were very costly.

    “It’s all too sudden to try to analyse now as to what happened and what didn’t happen. He galloped and jumped really well, he pulled up really well and I just hope this isn’t too detrimental to the team.”

    Andrew said the 13-year-old Jaguar Mail gelding was feeling as normal, and good, before his round.

    “This is just a blip to a horse’s career that’s been absolutely fantastic,” he said.

    Tim Price and Falco put in a superb round for New Zealand on the World Eventing Championships cross-country, finishing clear and within the time.

    As the last combination to go for the team, Tim and the 13-year-old gelding crossed the line a second inside the time to leave them on their dressage score of 26.2, which moved them from 14th place this morning to fifth at that stage.

    “He’s an out and out jumper; he’s learned the job of cross-country,” Tim said. “There were points when he was a novice and I’d be warming up with Andrew [Nicholson] and we’d both be ‘This horse is not going to be anything beyond a novice horse’, because he was the wrong type for the job.

    “But he’s been very trainable, so he’s just got better and more honest and more clever as he’s gone on. So it was not just going out and relaxing on a cross-country horse, you’ve got to do a good job everywhere and ride a rhythm rather than pure speed and he was really good with everything.”

    US rider Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg TSF finished bang on the time to stay on their dressage score, also 26.

    “I was just going as fast as he goes so I thought I was right on the time, one second over, one second under so when I heard them announce that it was right on the time it was a big breath of relief,” Boyd said. “This track doesn’t suit him; he’s so suited to the five-stars that have long gallops and I can get him settled in. Here, it was sort of like Tokyo where it’s a bit turning and stopping and starting, and the sunlight was a bit weird by the end of the day, but I have to give the horse credit. He just tries and tries and tries – it’s his best attribute… he’s just a legend.”

    Boyd and the American-bred 15-year-old have now contested four championships together, and Boyd said is testament to the horse’s character and soundness.

    “When he came to my barn. I hardly rode him,” he added. “I got the kids to ride him because I just thought he was a fluffy little pony and to do what he’s done goes to show how much I know! I picked all these fancy, shiny, big-jumping, big-moving expensive horses and this is the guy that just keeps turning up. So it goes to show heart and a horse that tries counts for so much.”

    Tim, Boyd and Ros Canter have all finished cross-country on 26.2. In cases of a tie, positions are decided on who is closest to the optimum time, putting Boyd ahead of Tim and then Ros.

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