Australia’s triple Olympic team gold medalist Andrew Hoy galloped his way into the top spot with Bloom Des Hauts Crets after today’s cross country, when rising heat and humidity provided a perfect environment to test the onsite cooling facilities for the equine and human athletes.
Sixth out onto Derek Di Grazia’s beautiful 20-fence course at Sea Forest overlooking the heart of Tokyo Bay, the seven-time Olympian and the eight-year-old Selle Français mare flew across the finish line with seven seconds to spare to take the early lead on a score of 27.7.
Hoy was thrilled to move to the top of the leaderboard. “It’s a very nice position to be in and if I win I’m very happy for this year, but it’s next year I want to win! My horse galloped very well and her heart rate and temperature were very good when I arrived. The cooling facilities here at the venue were absolutely excellent. As an Olympic venue it’s ready one year before because the ground is excellent and the construction of the cross country fences is very good, but next year will be very different fences.”
As the Australian combination were lying second after yesterday’s Dressage phase, only overnight leaders Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA could challenge them, but the home side star was 14 seconds down on the clock to collect 5.6 time faults and drop to fourth.
German superstar Michael Jung, another triple Olympic gold medalist and heading for Tokyo 2020 as the defending champion, was second last out on the track with the seven-year-old Fischerwild Wave. They too came home through the finish flags clear over the fences and on the clock to move up to second on 28.0.
“It was hot but it wasn’t really a big problem”, Michael Jung said afterwards. “The grooms and everyone took really good care of the horses and everyone tried to make the job for the horses and the riders as easy as possible. This is really fantastic here.”
Another pair for the host nation, Ryuzo Kitajima and Vick Du Gisors, were almost bang on the optimum time of five minutes 30 seconds to move up from fourth after the Dressage to third ahead of Oiwa and Bart, with compatriot Kazuma Tomoto fractionally behind in fifth on Tacoma d’Horset. Britain’s Georgie Spence and Halltown Harley round out the top six and, amazingly, there’s less than a fence between them and the leaders.
Seven of the 16 starters remain on their Dressage marks, while eight others collected just time faults. The only combination to pick up jumping penalties were cross country pathfinders Kazuya Otomo and Condorcet, who had a runout at the second element of the angled rails double at fence 10 to drop one place to 16th.
“All the horses recovered really well after the cross country, despite the challenging conditions, and they are all now back home in their air conditioned stables at Baji Koen resting ready for tomorrow’s Jumping”, FEI Veterinary Director Goran Akerström said.
*Ready Steady Tokyo test event (placings after cross-country) *– 1, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 27.7 penalties; 2, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0; 3, Japan’s Vick Du Gisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 4, Japan’s Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 30.1; 5, Japan’s Tacoma d’Horset (Kazuma Tomoto), 30.4; 6, Great Britain’s Halltown Harley (Georgie Spence), 30.6.