ATTENTION moves to eventing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the first of Ireland's two equestrian teams are preparing to get underway.
The first vet check took place at Baji Koen Equestrian Park where all but one of the horses presented were confirmed for action by the Ground Jury.
Ireland’s Sam Watson (Tullabeg Flamenco), Cathal Daniels (Rioghan Rua), Sarah Ennis (Woodcourt Garrison) and Austin O’Connor (Colorade Blue) were all passed. Ennis was asked to trot Woodcourt Garrison again, before being waved through.
Sadly since then, Rioghan Rua has been ruled out on veterinary grounds and will be replaced by the alternation Austin O'Connor. Daniels moves into the alternate postition and can be called upon if required later in the competition.
Ireland have been drawn 12th of the 15 teams. The dressage phase is divided into three sessions, with one rider from each nation going in a session.
Watson will be first to ride his dressage test for Ireland at 9.46am on Friday morning (1.46am Irish time). Austin O'Connor goes in the second session on Friday at 7.12pm (11.14am Irish time). Sarah Ennis rides in the Saturday session at 10.32am (2.32am Irish time.).
Sam Watson and Tullabeg Flamenco at the first vet check in Tokyo \ Tomas Holcbecher
Failed vet check
The Polish reserve combination of Jan Kaminski and Jard have been called up because Pawel Spisak’s gelding, Banderas, did not get through. Meanwhile Castle Larchfield Purdy, competed by Lauren Billys from Puerto Rico, was sent to the holding box but was subsequently declared fit to compete. Canada’s Jessica Phoenix did not present her gelding Pavarotti, so the number of starters in the opening Dressage phase has been reduced from 65 to 63.
First to go
First into the arena tomorrow morning at 08.30am local time will be Thailand’s Arinadtha Chavatanont with the Irish Sport Horse Boleybawn Prince (Colin Diamond x Clover Hill), bred by Brian McDonnell in Co Tipperary.
The pair were on the bronze medal winning team at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018. It’s a history-making moment because both Thailand and China are fielding an Olympic eventing team for the very first time.
Also making his mark, and elegantly turned out this morning, is the first-ever eventing athlete to represent Hong Kong, Thomas Heffernan Ho who will partner the stallion Tayberry.
A brand new Olympic dressage test, taking just under four minutes to complete, will be performed for the very first time, and second to go tomorrow morning will be world number one Oliver Townend with Ballaghmor Class.
The British rider will be aiming to put as much pressure as possible on reigning individual double-champion Michael Jung from Germany who will be second-last to go on Saturday morning with Chipmunk. France will be defending the team title.
Cathal Daniels and Rioghan Rua at the first vet inspection in Tokyo \ Tomas Holcbecher
There’s a 40-year gap between the oldest athlete in the field, 62-year-old Andrew Hoy from Australia, and the youngest, 22-year-old Lea Siegl from Austria.
After the last dressage session on Saturday, horses will be transported to Sea Forest Island in Tokyo Bay where they will stay ahead of the cross-country which takes place early on Sunday morning. They return to Baji Koen that afternoon and on Monday the final jumping phase will decide the team and individual medals.
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