By US Equestrian Communications Department
Tokyo, Japan – The first day of competition for the U.S. Eventing Team has concluded at Equestrian Park in Tokyo, Japan, with the team currently sitting in ninth heading into tomorrow’s final grouping of combinations. The U.S. Eventing Team drew fourth in the order out of 15 teams and sent out their first combination of Doug Payne and Vandiver, earlier this morning with the pair earning a 33.0. Olympic veteran Phillip Dutton and Z were also early in the order in the second group and received a 30.5 from the Ground Jury to sit them in the middle of the pack at the conclusion of today’s competition. The team’s anchor combination in Boyd Martin and Tsetserleg will go early in the final grouping tomorrow to conclude the dressage phase of competition.
Payne (Rougemont, N.C.) and Vandiver, a 17-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Debi Crowley, Doug Payne, & Jessica Payne, rode a solid test as the lead-off combination for the team. This is Payne’s first Olympic Games, and he was keen to put in a good showing in the dressage phase and is already looking ahead to cross-country on Sunday.
“I was very happy with Vandiver [Quinn] in there. I think out of all three phases this is the toughest for him, but he put forward a great effort and honestly, in the end it’s all you can ask for, and I was pretty excited to get that finished and onto the next, and there’s a lot more left ahead,” said Payne after this test. “I think he was about as settled as he’s been going in and it’s a credit to the facility here. We’ve been here long enough, and he’s been able to see it all, but he stayed settled and rideable. He’s the most genuine creature and really tries his best all the time.”
As the second combination down the centerline for the team, Dutton (West Grove, Pa.) and Z, a 13-year-old Zangersheide gelding owned by Evie Dutton, Ann Jones, Suzanne Lacy, Caroline Moran, Simon Roosevelt, and Thomas Tierney, laid down a mistake-free test that earned them a 30.0 from the judges. The typically excitable gelding was very settled and workmanlike in the big arena and Dutton commented that his focus and willingness was spot on during their test.
“I couldn’t be prouder of him. Traditionally, he’s gotten a bit revved up and excited in the bigger stadiums and arenas and he was right on the money today. He was listening to me and very obedient. It was a pleasure to be a part of that test with him,” said Dutton.
The team will look for a big mark tomorrow from anchor combination Martin (Cochranville, Pa.) and Tsetserleg, a 14-year-old Trakehner gelding owned by Christine, Tommie, & Thomas Turner, who will take the arena at 9:28 a.m. JST/8:28 p.m. EDT. Chef d’Equipe Erik Duvander was pleased with the team’s showing on the first day and said that their overall score will give them confidence for Sunday’s test of Derek Di Grazia’s cross-country track at the Sea Forest Cross-Country Course.
“Doug and Vandiver scored within the range of our expectations. Phillip Dutton rode a much-improved test on Z from Kentucky, so we are very pleased with his performance,” commented Duvander. “We have walked the cross-country course now several times and have a very clear picture of the course. After Boyd’s test, we will walk as a team one final time to finalize our strategy. The team has no thoughts of holding back.”
Competition continues tomorrow with the final session of dressage, beginning at 8:30 a.m. JST and continuing through 10:50 a.m. JST. Cross-country will take place on Sunday, August 1, beginning at 7:45 a.m. JST or 6:45 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 31 taking the time change into consideration.