New Zealand’s Olympic showjumpers are excited and ready for action.
The team, comprising Bruce Goodin aboard Backatorps Danny V, Daniel Meech with Cinca 3 and Uma O’Neill on Clockwise of Greenhill Z, with Tom Tarver and Fiber Fresh Popeye the alternate, have settled in well to village life as they have prepared for competition which kicks off on Tuesday evening.
Chef d’equipe Gilbert Bockmann says they’re all in really good shape and he’s looking forward to some top competition. Gilbert and all of the riders have commended the Japanese on the facilities at the Baji Koen Equestrian Park.
“The facilities here in Tokyo are amazing,” says US-based Uma O’Neill. “It’s great to be here with the team and I am excited to make my Olympic debut here in Tokyo representing New Zealand.”
Her big grey stallion Clockwise of Greenhill Z is fresh and happily settled.
Daniel Meech has been taking it easy with his grey mare after a long trip. They had their first real hit-out on Saturday in preparation for Sunday’s warm-up round. “Everything you need with a 5* class is right here,” he said. “It is awesome.”
Bruce Goodin, who is riding at his fifth Olympic Games, says the team are in good spirits. “The facilities are fantastic, the stables great, there are lots of arenas to ride in and a really nice area where we can hack the horses,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for better facilities. This is probably one of the best I have experienced at an Olympics.”
Alternate rider Tom Tarver says Fiber Fresh Popeye is in very good spirits. “He was a little flat when he got here but has bounced back really well. Our training round last night was great and it was a nice hit out. It is a long time waiting but the horses need it. It was just good to get in the ring.” He is loving Village life and says it is quite amazing to see all the world’s best athletes in one place. “That is pretty special.”
Tom is no stranger to Japan and says it is no surprise the facilities are fantastic. “Full credit to the Japanese in what they have done here. I have spent a lot of time in Japan and had every confidence in them.”
All the Kiwi horse flew through the first horse inspection. The first individual competition is on Tuesday and is a qualifier for the individual final on Wednesday. The top 30 combinations will contest one round against the clock with a jump-off for the medal placings if there is a tie on penalties. All athletes start on a zero score in the individual final.
There are 19 teams of three combinations contesting the team competition which starts on Friday, with the final on Saturday. The top 10 teams will come back for the final.
The course designer at Tokyo is Santiago Varela (SPAIN) who Gilbert says will undoubtedly create very challenging courses for the riders. Uma has ridden his courses a few times at Spruce Meadows and says they always big and technical, but fair.
In all there are 35 countries represented in the jumping, comprising 75 combinations.
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By Diana Dobson – HP Media Liaison