Brazil’s Marcio Jorge and Coronel MCJ were popular and convincing winners of the Aquece Rio International Horse Trials, the test event that wound to a close at the Deodoro Olympic Equestrian Centre on Sunday.
In front of a huge contingent of voluble fans, Jorge steered the talented grey to a supremely confident clear over the coloured fences to claim victory – and the gold medal – by a huge margin over runner-up Marcio Appel (Cross Rock), with Marcelo Tosi (Glenfly) in bronze.
Jorge had taken over the lead after cruising round Saturday’s cross-country course well inside the time, but had only a slim 2.7 penalty lead over his main rival and compatriot Marcelo Tosi going into the final day. But Jorge and Coronel never faltered in the Jumping phase to complete on the mark of 44.5 that they earned in the Dressage two days earlier. The winners were the only pair to finish on their Dressage score, leaving them 18.8 penalties – four fences – clear of the opposition.
Going into the Jumping test, Marcelo Tosi had a three-fence advantage over Marcio Appel, and looked set to claim silver, but Glenfly took a brick out of the wall at the third and then lowered poles from a further four fences to rack up 20 penalties and drop to bronze.
Marcio Appel and Cross Rock faulted only once, kicking out the top rail at the Brazilian green and yellow triple bar and, with a final score of 63.3, held on for the silver ahead of Tosi. And Appel’s good form continued, as he also slotted his second ride, Iberon Jmen, into fourth with a clear Jumping round, overtaking Nilson Da Silva and Tiger Lu who added eight faults to their total when taking out the first two parts of the combination.
After the presentation ceremony, with medals presented by Nawal el Moutawakel, Chair of the IOD Coordination Commission for Rio 2016, and the lap of honour, Marcio Jorge talked of his determination to be a part of the Brazilian team for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“There’s strong competition to get in the team and it will be a tough selection, but we’re in a good position now as we had very few at this level in the past and we had no substitutes,” he said.
“The Rio 2016 legacy will be spectacular, not only for equestrian, but for all other sports. It will be a great incentive to get a new generation into sport. And of course it also helps the high-performance athletes. I think the Olympics will leave us among the best sporting countries.”
Silver medallist Marcio Appel was bullish about Brazil’s chances of a place on the medal podium next year. “We have a real shot at an Olympic medal. Since the last Olympic Games, we’ve been training really hard and a lot of investment has gone into the team. Having the Olympic Games here in Brazil means that you’re a lot happier to get up early in the morning and work hard.”
Eight horses were clear around the 20-fence 3.2km course designed by Pierre Michelet, the Frenchman behind the track at last year’s Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy. Only two came home inside the five minute 41 second optimum time and it is those two – Jorge with his second ride Coronel MCJ and Tosi with Glenfly – who hold all the aces going forward to tomorrow’s final Jumping phase.
Three horses failed to complete the course. Ricky Candi (BRA) pulled up Natural TW after the first water, while Serguei Fofanoff walked Yankee Deapper home after two stops at the first element at the same fence. Luciano Drubi, who picked up 20 penalties for a refusal at the second element in the water with Riviera Lu, was then eliminated with Raica Lu after three separate stops on the course.
Tosi, who led after the dressage with Briefing DB Z, decided not to run the 11-year-old across country. “Briefing is a three-star horse and there was no point riding him today (in a two-star event),” he said. “I will save him for his next event in three weeks.”
The action opened at 10am on a blisteringly hot Brazilian winter morning. Jorge was first out on the course with the thoroughbred Winner, fourth after the dressage, but the pair slipped down the order to eighth after a runout at the skinny, the second element of the downhill fence 18. That tour of the track was the ideal preparation for Jorge’s second outing, this time with Coronel and the pair were foot-perfect throughout to cruise round in style and take over the lead.
“I’m very happy with both horses”, the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games team silver medallist said after his second tour of the track. “The ground was very good and all the fences were inviting and very nice to ride.”
Coronel has already done two three-star events, one national and one international, and has won both.
With only Brazilian horses competing at the Test Event it was always going to be a victory for the host country, but the quality of the competition, and the impressive Deodoro venue with its dedicated back of house team and welcoming volunteers was a win for Brazil, too.
Aquece Rio International Horse Trials (final results):
1, Coronel MCJ (Marcio Jorge), BRA, 44.5 penalties;
2, Cross Rock (Marcio Appel), BRA, 63.3;
3, Glenfly (Marcelo Tosi), BRA, 67.2;
4, Iberon Jmen (Marcio Appel), BRA, 68.4;
5, Tiger Lu (Nilson da Silva), BRA, 72.1;
6, Estiva TW (Serguei Fofanoff), BRA, 72.1.