Is a Mexican wave called a Brazilian wave when it sweeps round your home stadium at an Olympic Games? For Rui Fonseca, his final halt was greeted with the crowd going wild crazy for their home rider after scoring 46.8 on Tom Bombadill Too, the oldest horse in the field at 16. Ruy was rewarded with two eights for his riding, which is quiet and effective.
“I was lucky they waited until afterwards,” laughed the 43-year-old, referring to the early tests yesterday, during which the excited crowd applauded riders’ first halts as well as their final ones.
The story of how Ruy came to ride ‘Tommy’ is quite remarkable.
Ruy, who is based in Oxfordshire, mucked out the horse for nine months when ‘Tommy’ was a livery on his yard.
“One day the owner asked me to ride him, and that’s how I found him,” he says. “I looked at him and thought he was small, but he’s proved he’s got a big heart. I am very lucky.
“In a year Tommy went from zero-star to four-star and now he’s been to WEG [World Equestrian Games] and two Olympics. He’s 16 now, but he only went to his first event when he was nine.”
The horse’s temperament sets him apart
“Anyone could have him as a pet,” says Rui affectionately. “I can put a five-year-old girl on him to hack out and ride. Tommy is a modern, nippy horse and has been a very good servant.”
Rui descibes London 2012 and Rio as “two home Games in a row” as he is based in the UK but originally from Brazil.
How have these latest Games been for him?
“The media were negative about Rio,” he says. “I’ve been in England hearing that. But it’s a bit like the World Cup and it’s all worked out. I hope we’ve [the Brazilian organisers] surprised people and I hope we can represent a beautiful sport herebecause it’s really beautiful out there on the cross-country.
“I’ve been in the UK so long that to be here riding in front of so many friends and fans is really special.