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Riders praise Tokyo set-up as equestrian legend Jung wins test event

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The Tokyo 1964 Olympic equestrian centre has been given a stunning facelift, while the Bay-side cross-country route is beautiful. The riders can’t wait to get to grips with it again next summer. 

Olympic legends, local heroes and fantastic facilities: the equestrian test event for Tokyo 2020 had a bit of everything – and was declared a major success by participants and organisers alike.

Germany’s Michael Jung, riding Fischerwild Wave, took the gold medal at the Ready Steady Tokyo competition, which was held at the Equestrian Park (dressage and showjumping) and the Sea Forest Cross-Country Course, both of which will be used for the Games themselves next summer.

At 37, Jung was one of the older competitors in a field containing 11 Japanese riders, three Germans, two Britons and an Australian. The German already has three Olympic gold medals and one silver from previous Games, but he’s clearly hungry for more: on the youngest horse on the start list, he put in a flawless showjumping round on the final day to overhaul overnight leader Andrew Hoy of Australia.

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London 2012 and Rio 2016 gold medallist Jung topped the final leaderboard with just 28 penalties. Ryuzo Kitajima of Japan, riding Vick du Gisors JRA, won silver (28.2 penalties), while Yoshiaki Oiwa, also of Japan, got bronze riding Bart L JRA (30.1 penalties).

Jung was highly complimentary about the two venues, the Equestrian Park in Baji Koen, which is situated in Tokyo’s Heritage Zone, and the Sea Forest Cross-Country Course, which runs over reclaimed land alongside Tokyo Bay and was created by the highly acclaimed US course designer, Derek di Grazia.

“For me it was very interesting to be here and nice to see how everything works, especially the cross-country,” Jung said. “It felt very good. I think it will be very nice next year, if you see everything we have one more year to prepare and to make some little details a bit better. I’m really looking forward to next season.”

The new facilities at Baji Koen, which was the site of the equestrian events at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games and is the home of the Japanese Racing Association, won praise – especially the air-conditioned stables, which have been installed to counter the Japanese capital’s summer heat.

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“The cooling facilities here at the venue were absolutely excellent,” Hoy said. “As an Olympic venue, it’s ready one year before, because the ground is excellent and the construction of the cross-country fences is very good.”

Twenty National Olympic and Paralympic Committees attended the event, with very positive feedback. “The facilities are very impressive and we had the chance to test everything we needed to test,” said David O’Connor, the FEI Eventing Committee Chair who won gold at Sydney 2000.

“The Organising Committee has thought through all the details and is right on track to make 2020 really great Olympic Games for equestrian sport.”

The local fans were pretty happy to see two Japanese riders on the podium, too. “It was hard work in the very hot weather, but my horse had a very good reaction in the cross-country,” silver medallist Kitajima said. “It’s a fantastic result.”

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