The eventers are settling into their routines in Tokyo, in facilities chef d’equipe Graeme Thom says are second-to-none.
“The facilities couldn’t be better,” he says. “It is probably one of the best we have ever been to. NO expense has been spared. The footing is excellent, there are just the right number of rings, there is fantastic grass in the field with a few cross country jumps (for training) and everyone is incredibly helpful.”
It is just the second day on the ground for the riders and third for the horses. “They did a very light hack yesterday and while today is another light day, they will be ridden twice . . . just a very light short walk this morning and then possibly a little work in the evening when it is cooler.”
The high temperatures mean the middle of the day is avoided for riding. Graeme says they will likely ride up to 10.30am a the latest, with the rings shut between 11am and 3pm.
Dr Christiana Ober travelled with the horses from Europe. “They all arrived in excellent health. It was a long trip but they were really well cared for. They came off the lorries at the end after almost 40 hours of constant travel and once they got into these beautiful air conditioned stables they really perked up.”
He says the grooms are doing a fantastic job. Their accommodation is right near the stables. “They have everything they need there – it is all brand new and wonderful facilities including a good dining hall. It couldn’t be better for them. They have a four minute walk to the horses.”
Dr Ober is also staying on site. “The horses are in constant care and within arms’ reach at all times.” Graeme felt it was such a shame the beautiful equestrian venue would be spectator-less for the Games after so much effort by the host country. “
“Everybody knows this was the same venue as 1964 Olympic Games and while it has had a few make overs, its most recent one for 2020 has really done it justice for its heritage and everything. It is so beautiful. It will have a beautiful legacy going forward.”
The riders and other support crew are staying in the Olympic Village. “They are all happy and settled,” says Graeme. “Village life is not the same as it would have been non-COVID but it is still cool to be there with all the different nations and sports. There is a lot of exercising being done outdoors in the park settings throughout the village.”
There are 29 countries taking part in the eventing at the Games, comprising 15 teams and 65 combinations. Fourteen countries are represented by individuals. Australia, Germany and the United States have each won team gold four times, with Australia winning three on the trot (1992, 1996, 2000). France won gold in Rio, with superstar Michael Jung coming into Tokyo sitting on a potential individual hattrick.
The team and individual competitions will run concurrently on consecutive days with the dressage on July 30 and 31, cross country August 1, and the team jumping competition August 2. The individual final jumping test will follow the team jumping final on August 2, with the top 25 battling it out for the medals.
The dressage and jumping is being held at Baji Koen Equestrian Centre with the cross country, set to start at 7.45am (Japan time) to beat the heat, at Sea Forest Park.
There have been some significant changes to the format for Tokyo 2020. The dressage test this year is a new one and will take just under four minutes to complete. The cross country course will take about eight minutes. Teams can do substitutions for medical or veterinarian reasons throughout the three tests after the start of competition.
By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison
Photos Supplied by Team