01, August, 2021

Never one to step away from a contentious opinion, I am going to make comment on the number of properly tired horses finishing yesterday in Tokyo.
Those who followed my thread last night on Facebook will have seen me comment on the riders and teams who immediately started cooling their horses and aiding their recovery and equally those that didn't. But my comment here is more about what was done to prepare these horses in the weeks and months of lead up.
We always knew that cross country was going to be tough in Tokyo. We knew it was going to be warm. In the end it wasn't stupidly hot - a maximum temperature of 28 degrees. There had been a test event at the venue in 2019 with teams sending vets and riders to experience the conditions first hand.
We've had Olympics in warm venues before - I remember the work that went into Atlanta. We knew that the horses would need to be truly, properly fit.
There's a lot that you can't prepare for in eventing. Each course has fences and questions you've never seen before, there are crowds or lack of crowds, cameras and environmental factors. But you can, and absolutely must, have your horse fit for what he is being asked to do.
The All Blacks are notorious for being fitter than any other team out there - the coaches insist on it and it means they can play a full 80 minutes of a challenging game. Yet in rugby, you're only letting yourself and your team down if you're not. With eventing, we're putting our horse's health and safety at risk, and there is absolutely no excuse for that.
I wonder if the fact that the course was shortened for the heat made some riders complacent and they sacrificed some fitness for more rideability in the dressage phase. If that is the case, then shame on them. Train your horse to manage their adrenaline. No medal chance is worth the sacrifice your horse made for you.
As always, I welcome comment. I'm off to do some canter work on Perfect Percy.


Obviously the photo is not from yesterday - the groom is dressed far too well for an event groom! It is of course Bryan Smart Racing's head girl, Beck Edmunds treating Alpha Delphini like the king that he is after his Group 1 win in the Nunthorpe Stakes.

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