China’s star rider makes World Equestrian Games cut

Alex Hua Tian and Harbour Pilot C at Saumur.
Alex Hua Tian and Harbour Pilot C at Saumur.

Chinese Olympic eventing rider Alex Hua Tian has achieved his qualification for the upcoming Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in France later this year.

News of his achievement at Saumur at the weekend has gone viral in China, where it is the Year of the Horse and  all things equestrian are very much in vogue. Alex Hua Tian is the country’s most famous equestrian.

“The first time I qualified was easier as I had built a two year relationship with my horses, Magenta and Jeans so I was able to qualify early,” Hua Tian said.

“This time it has been a real challenge. We only found my horse Harbour Pilot C (Pye) in March. He has had a very successful career with Joy Dawes, who has done a marvellous job with him.”

Harbour Pilot C is a 17.3hh Irish bred chestnut gelding by the showjumping stallion Coolcorron Cool Diamond and out of the ISH mare Beavers Bugsy Malone. He was started by Robert Splaine’s son, David, at their Coolcorron Stud Farm and Training Centre and immediately showed promise as an eventer. Coolcorron Cool Diamond, who was owned by Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, competed internationally with Robert Splaine, now Ireland’s Show Jumping High Performance Manager, from 1995 until the horse’s retirement in 2007. He died in 2013.

The combination had their first competition together at Belton seven weeks ago, and two weeks later had their first qualifier at Burnham Market CIC***. “Although we were still getting to know each other we achieved a qualifying result,” he said.

He knew the CCI4* in Saumur would be a big challenge, as  course designer Pierre Michelet, who is also building the WEG course in France this year, is well known for building demanding courses.

“When I arrived in France, I found it was certainly up to maximum height and width, cleverly using the terrain to test the horses. Fifth percent of horse/rider combinations before me had one problem or another, so it was a major test for our new partnership. However, we went all the difficult routes and he was a super star.”

Pye finished well but kicked himself in a hind leg while  warming down, so was stiff for the final showjumping phase. They had three rails down, “which was very worrying, as five poles would have negated our qualification. However, he really tried his best. I am so thrilled with him”, he said.

“During the qualification period and also because our relationship is so new, we have had to compete quite conservatively, to avoid making mistakes. Now that the pressure of qualification is over, we can work towards become more competitive.”

Hua Tian thanked Pye’s owner, Edwina Qu Ye, for the opportunity to ride the horse. He is also preparing her young horse, Temujin, for the Asian Games in Korea four weeks after WEG.

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