Tokyo, Japan – July 23, 2021 – With the blistering sun beating down on Baji Koen [the equestrian park], anxious riders took to the jog strip for the first horse inspection of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Before the jog even started though, two withdraws were the talk of the morning – Sweden’s top rider Patrik Kittel and the United State’s Nick Wagman pulled their horses from Olympic contention.
Ranked 14th in the world, Kittel’s 13-year-old mare sustained an injury in training while at the Olympic venue. In a handwritten statement he posted on social media July 22, he wrote, “Well Done tripped in yesterday’s training; a small injury prevents us from competing in the Tokyo Olympics. I am broken to the core [but] Welly will always come first. I will now support my students and team friends, in the honour of representing Sweden.”
The pair was the anchor combination for Sweden’s team having placed fifth as a pair at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018 and helping the team earning team bronze at the FEI European Championships in Rotterdam in 2019. Sweden will now be utilizing their traveling reserve Antonia Ramel on Brother De Jeu, who will be joined by her sister Juliette Ramel on Buriel KH and Therese Nilshagen on Dante Weltino.
For the United State’s traveling reserve Nick Wagman, the U.S. Dressage Team issued the following statement this morning prior to the jog: “After arriving safely at the venue in Tokyo, Don John sustained a minor injury. He has continued to show improvement, but after further evaluation with the team veterinarian, the decision was made to withdraw him before the start of competition out of extraordinary precaution, and though it is believed he would have passed the horse inspection if presented, the team felt that he should not be considered to compete to ensure he has the proper time to fully heal.”
The withdraw of Don John leaves the U.S. team vulnerable with no additional reserves in Tokyo should Sanceo, Salvino or Suppenkasper have any health concerns.
Friday’s horse inspection passed by smoothly with teams trotting down the jog strip in alphabetical order of their countries, starting with Australia and concluding with the United States. With beautiful purple flowers lining the path and Japanese volunteers keeping the footing pristine with their raking, the majority of the combinations flew by with flying colors.
A handful of horses including Mexico’s Beduino Lam, Russia’s Famous Cross and Portugal’s Fogoso were asked to trot a second time down the jog strip but were passed. However, two horses were sent to the holding box for re-inspection and coincidentally they are from the same farm. Riding from France, Isabell Pinto’s mount, Hot Chocolat VD Kwaplas has withdrawn from competition after being sent to the holding box to be evaluated by a vet and will not be reinspected. Carlos Pinto, her husband who is Portugal’s traveling reserve, was also sent to the holding box with Sultao Menezes. He returned at the end of the jog for re-inspection but after a questionable presentation has been requested to return the morning of July 24 for a final inspection to deem the horse healthy for competition.
The first half of Grand Prix competition kicks off Saturday, July 24 and continues Sunday July 25.
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