INCHEON, SOUTH KOREA – After Marquis de Plescop cleared the final hurdle in the equestrian jumping competition Friday, rider Toshiyuki Tanaka knew he had fallen short of the mark — for himself and his team.
Japan, which was vying for a second consecutive title in the team event at the 17th Asian Games, had to settle for the silver medal behind host South Korea. Hong Kong took the bronze.
Tanaka, who was last up for his team at the Dream Park Equestrian Venue, was tripped up along the intricate course by one of the obstacles, which he said was hard to see because its color patterns resembled the venue riding ground.
“That middle gate is hard to see. We stumbled there,” said Tanaka, referring to the fourth gate, featuring the cuddly harbor seal mascots of the 17th Asian Games, “Chumuro, Vichuon and Barame.”
The three other geldings on the team in the three-day competition that also involves dressage and cross country — Fairbanks Cargo, Just Chocolate and Toy Boy — also made strong efforts in the jump, particularly Fairbanks Cargo and Just Chocolate who cleared all 11 hurdles.
“We are very happy as a team to win the silver medal,” said Tanaka. “There were some mistakes we made on the hurdles. The Koreans were really strong and I want to congratulate them. We want to try to get the gold next time. But the course was outstanding, a great course to ride.”
The result from the team jumping event is tabulated simultaneously for individual scores. Horses are penalized for not clearing the hurdles and taking too long to finish.
Marquis de Plescop, third in the individual event a day earlier, dropped to fifth, with Ryuzo Kitajima-ridden Just Chocolate taking sixth. Fairbanks Cargo moved up into ninth, while Toy Boy, ridden by Tae Sato, the younger sister of 2010 Asian Games gold medalist Kenki, finished 14th.
“I was hoping to get a gold medal for our team, and for me personally, I really wanted a medal in the individual competition. I’ll try harder next time,” said Tanaka.
Kitajima also said he experienced trouble seeing the fourth gate, though Just Chocolate found its way over with no real problems.
“My horse was a little tight in the first part of the course but started to loosen up. There were parts of the course that were really hard to see, like the fourth gate in the middle. You don’t have that many opportunities to represent your country. I enjoyed these Asian Games a lot,” Kitajima said.