Germany’s Michael Jung, Olympic Eventing champion in London 2012 and again in Rio 2016, has already claimed gold in Tokyo one year out from the Olympic Games after taking the honours with Fischerwild Wave at the Ready Steady Tokyo test event which wrapped up here at the Equestrian Park today.
The 37-year-old, who has three Olympic gold and one silver from two Games appearances with the now retired La Biosthetique Sam FBW, had shadowed the leaders from the outset, even though he was riding the youngest horse on the start list.
Third after Dressage behind the home side’s Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA, the German pair moved up to second after yesterday’s cross country and a superb clear in today’s final Jumping test with the seven-year-old Fischerwild Wave then put the pressure on overnight leaders, Australia’s Andrew Hoy with Bloom Des Hauts Crets.
The mare had jumped impeccably around Derek Di Grazia’s cross country 24 hours earlier, but became increasingly headstrong over the coloured poles and, when the middle element of the triple combination hit the sand to drop Hoy down the order to fifth, victory went to the German duo.
In mixed weather conditions that veered from heavy rain to hot sunshine, nine horses were footperfect over Santiago Varela’s 11-fence track, with Japan’s Ryuzo Kitajima on Vick Du Grisors JRA and Dressage leaders Yoshiaki Oiwa and Bart L JRA among them. The home pair moved up to claim podium spots in silver and bronze, heading no less than four Japanese in the top 10.
All 16 horses that started yesterday’s cross country were passed fit at this morning’s horse inspection, with all of them beautifully turned out and looking exceptionally well.
The German winner was quick to praise the facilities provided at the two venues, Equestrian Park and Sea Forest. “For me it was very interesting to be here and nice to see how everything works, especially the cross country with the horses. It felt very good. It’s difficult but still possible and I think it’s really not a problem. For sure you need a very good preparation and you have to be very fit before you arrive here, the horses and the riders as well.
“I think it will be very nice next year if you see everything this year and we have one more year to prepare and to make some little details a bit better. I’m really looking forward to next season.”
Second-placed Ryuzo Kitajima, a member of Japan’s gold medal team at last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta (INA), was delighted with the performance of his horse Vick Du Grisors JRA. “It was hard work in the very hot weather, but my horse had a very good reaction in the cross country and in the practice arena he was too fresh today so I’m very happy with a double clear, it’s a fantastic result.”
The overwhelming impression from the 20 National Olympic and Paralympic Committees that were onsite was extremely positive and the general mood was summed up by Sydney 2000 Olympic champion David O’Connor, who chairs the FEI Eventing Committee.
“The facilities are very impressive and we had the chance to test everything we needed to test, which was the purpose of this week’s test event”, he said. “There are some adjustments to be made but they are minor ones, as the Organising Committee has thought through all the details and is right on track to make 2020 a really great Olympic Games for equestrian sport.”
Ready Steady Tokyo equestrian test event (final placings) – 1, Germany’s Fischerwild Wave (Michael Jung), 28.0 penalties; 2, Japan’s Vick Du Grisors JRA (Ryuzo Kitajima), 28.2; 3, Bart L JRA (Yoshiaki Oiwa), 30.1; 4, Great Britain’s Halltown Harley (Georgie Spence), 30.6; 5, Australia’s Bloom Des Hauts Crets (Andrew Hoy), 31.7; 6, Japan’s Swiper JRA (Toshiyuki Tanaka), 32.3.