Photo Caption: On the podium for individual Eventing at the Asian Games 2014 at Incheon in South Korea today: (L to R) China's Alex Hua Tian (silver), Republic of Korea's Sangwuk Song (gold) and Republic of Korea's Sire Bang (bronze). (FEI/www.horsemovethailand.com)
All gold for South Korean hosts in Dressage and Eventing at Asian Games 2014
by Louise Parkes
The host nation of the Republic of South Korea has dominated the medal podium during the first week of the equestrian events at the Asian Games 2014 at Incheon with all gold in Dressage and Eventing.
The host city lies west of the South Korean capital of Seoul, and the 17th Asian Games, which is the the biggest sporting event in the world, began on 19 September and continues through to October 4. Almost 13,00 athletes compete in 36 sports over the 16 action-packed days representing 45 Olympic Council of Asia member states, and 10 countries fielded Dressage competitors while riders from seven nations lined out in Eventing.
It was the fifth consecutive win for South Korea in last Saturday's Dressage Team competition in which Japan took silver ahead of Chinese Taipei in bronze medal spot. The team from Indonesia finished a very close fourth while China, India and Thailand filled the remaining places on the leaderboard in that order.
Youngshik Hwang steered Fursteuberg to the highest score of the competition when posting 74.342 per cent. And when that was backed up by a healthy 71.237 from Dongsson Kim riding Finally, 69.658 from Yooyson Chung with Royal Red and 68.816 from Kyunsub Kim with Dark Secret then the Republic of Korea posted an average final score of 71.746 to claim the gold when the top three scores were taken into account.
Shingo Hayashi produced the highest Japanese score of 71.395 with Veranus while team-mates Kazuki Sado (Winnetou DDH), Tomoko Nakamura (Pacific B) and Mayumi Okunishi (Freestyle) posted 69.184, 68.947 and 68.895 respectively for an average team total of 69.842.
Chinese Taipei's final tally of 67.386 was achieved by Ko Wen Wang (Daquino), Yu Chieh Chang (Nora), Li Yu Kuo (Temptation) and Hsiu Hua Yeh (Urban Legend) for the bronze, but the Indonesian score of 67.316 for fourth place was all the more creditable for the fact that there were only three competitors in this side, and therefore no drop score. The team consisted of Ferry Wahyu Hadiyanto (Douceur), Alfaro Menayang (Diamond Boy) and Larasati Iris Rischka Gading (Wallenstein).
The Dressage test for the team competition was Prix St Georges, but it was Intermediate Freestyle that decided the the individual medals which were awarded at the Dream Park equestrian venue three days later. And this time South Korea's Hwang had to settle for silver medal spot as team-mate Kim reigned supreme.
Kim, who is 25 years old, was awarded the best artistic marks by all five Ground Jury members for a score of 77.225 with his 13-year-old Hannoverian chestnut, Finally.
Hwang, a double-gold medallist at the previous Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in 2010, scored 76.575 to take the silver with his 11-year-old Westphalian, Fursteuberg, while Indonesia's Larasati Iris Rischka Gading took her second bronze medal of the week with Wallenstein when posting 74.075. Hong Kong's Jacqueline Wing Ying Siu finished just off the podium in fourth on a score of 72.87 with Ferrera.
In Eventing, the South Korean team proved untouchable from the outset helped in no small way by the leading dressage score of 37.90 from the anchor partnership of Sangwuk Song and FRH Fantasia who went on to also claim the individual title.
It was Wonjae Hong who provided the drop score in the Dressage phase when posting 49.40 with Calloa Vanhet Kloosterhofz, but on cross-country day Jaisik Cheon and Pilot Cutter added 20 penalties to their scoreline so the 0.40 for time collected by Hong was the only thing added to the host country's tally going into the final afternoon following great clears from both Song and Sire Bang riding Thomas O'Mally.
The Japanese team of Tae Sato (Toy Boy), Takanori Kusonoki (Fairbanks Cargo), Ryuzo Kitajima (Just Chocolate) and Toshiyuki Tanaka (Marquide Plescop) established themselves in silver medal spot in Dressage and held on firmly, but the three-member team from Hong Kong made a big jump up from fifth after Dressage to take the bronze in today's final Jumping phase.
China held third place after Dressage, but when pathfinders Junhong Lu and Watch were eliminated in yesterday's cross-country phase then the 70.80 recorded by second-line rider Jingmin Li with Zhendeyl had to be added to the results for team-mates Ruji Liang (Vasthi) and Alex Hua Tian (Temujin) which dropped them one place to fourth. The Hong Kong threesome meanwhile proved a formidable force when Nicole Fardel was the only one to increase her scorelline, picking up 0.40 cross-country time penalties, while both Thomas Heffernan Ho (Zibor) and Yuan Yan Annie Ho (Baxo) kept a clean sheet. And even though Heffernan Ho and Fardel each faulted once today, Hong Kong still finished almost 20 points ahead of the fourth-placed Chinese side.
The Japanese were strong throughout, adding only two time faults in the cross-country phase and completing with three clear Jumping rounds today when Wonjae Hong was the only one to leave a pole on the floor.
Sangwuk Song was the clear individual champion when adding nothing at all to his excellent Dressage mark with his 14-year-old dark bay German-bred mare. The 41-year-old rider is something of an all-rounder, having competed in Jumping at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar in 2006 where he was on the silver-medal-winning team, and in Eventing at the last Games in Guangzhou four years ago.
Individual silver went to China's Alex Hua Tian who, at the age of 24, has already made quite a name for himself in this sport. He received the FEI's Rising Star Award in 2010 when he was also an ambassador for the Asian Games in Guangzhou. Two years earlier he was the first Chinese rider to compete at an Olympic equestrian event when lining out in Hong Kong for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. He was just 18 years old at the time, and he put his name into the record books as the youngest athlete to compete in three-day eventing in Olympic history. Tian finished 49th individually at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014 in Normandy, France last month.
Korea's Sire Bang finished a very close third to take bronze at Incheon today. The 26-year-old from the Let's Run Equestrian Club in Korea is trained by Matthias Baumann in Germany, and taking a medal at these Asian Games has been a long-term ambition. She succeeded admirably with the help of her talented 16-year-old Irish-bred horse Thomas O'Mally when they added nothing to their Dressage score. Hua Tian almost frittered away his advantage when collecting three time faults, and he only pipped Bang for the silver by 0.20 penalty points.
Dressage Team Competition: Gold - Republic of Korea 71.746: Dark Secret (Kyunsub Kim) 68.816, Royal Red (Yooyson Chung) 69.658, Finally (Dongsson Kim) 71.237, fursteuberg (Youngshik Hwang) 74.342; Silver - Japan 69.842: Freestyle (Mayumi Okunishi) 68.895, Winnetou DDH (Kazuki Sado) 69.184, Pacific B (Tomoko Nakamura) 68.947, Veranus (Shingo Hayashi) 71.395; Bronze - Chinese Taipei 67.386: Daquino (Ko Wen Wang) 56.763, Nora (Yu Chieh Chang) 67.553, Temptation (Li Yu Kuo) 67.395, Urban Legend (Hsiu Hua Yeh) 67.211.
Dressage Individual Competition: Gold - Finally (Dongsson Kim) KOR 77.225; Silver - Fursteuberg (Youngshik Hwang) KOR 76.575; Bronze - Wallenstein (Larasati Iris Rischka Gadin) INA 74.075.
Eventing Team Competition: Gold - Republic of Korea 133.00: Pilot Cutter (Jaisik Cheon) 63.10, Calloa Vanhet Loosterhofz (Wonjae Hong) 53.80, Thomas O'Mally (Siro Bang) 41.30, FRH Fantasia (Sangwuk Song) 37.90; Silver - Japan 142.50: Toy Boy (Tae Sato) 56.30, Fairbanks Cargo (Takanori Kusonoki) 52.10, Just Chocolate (Ryuzo Kitajima) 48.00, Marquis de Plescop (Toshiyuki Tanaka) 44.40; Bronze - Hong Kong 153.80: Zibor (Thomas Heffernan Ho) 55.70, The Navigator (Nicole Fardel) 54.60, Baxo (Yuan Yan Annie Ho) 43.50.
Eventing Individual Competition: Gold - FRH Fantasia (Sangwuk Song) KOR 37.90; Silver - Temujin (Alex Hua Tian) CHN 41.10; Bronze - Thomas O'Mally (Sire Bang) KOR 41.30.