Oliver Townend and Great Britain Lead the Way on Tokyo Cross Country Day; USA in 5th

Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class. Photo by Shannon Brinkman Photography.

It was a challenge of epic proportions for the Olympic eventers today, in more ways than one. As soon as we got off the shuttles at 7 a.m. this morning, you could at once feel that the lovely sea breezes we’d glimpsed on course walks were…not really existent. It was hot, and the air wasn’t really moving, making for even tougher conditions that would test the combinations setting out on cross country in Tokyo. After our trailblazers, Thailand’s Arinadtha Chavatanont and Boleybawn Prince, had an unfortunate peck on landing at the first water, fence four, it was all we could do to wait and see how the upcoming rides would
unfold. But as top-ranked rider and FEI World Number One Oliver Townend and Ballaghmor Class made it through the intense first minute of Derek di Grazia’s track — which contained an eye-popping seven jumping efforts – we began to see
that the questions were doable, the conditions looked as though they could be manageable. And the time, he proved, was gettable — Oliver crossed the finish in 7:40, five seconds under the optimum time, to dislodge the knot in many of our stomachs and send team scouts back to the barns reporting that the time we all thought would be nearly impossible might actually be more achievable than originally thought.
In the meantime, as always: Go Eventing.