The 30-year-old and his horse Tayberry earned two points at the Arville short-course event in Belgium as he looks to secure Asia’s berth in Tokyo. Hong Kong’s Tom Heffernan Ho is halfway to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in the individual eventing competition. Olympic Eventing fans from all over the world can buy Eventing tickets online.
The 30-year-old, who gave up a career in hotel management to ride for Hong Kong, received two points in short-course eventing programmed in Arville, Belgium last weekend and is now looking to perform well in the next long-course event to secure his place in the 2020 Games.
“I am halfway qualified and I need to do a long course and I will have secured an individual spot for me and my horse Tayberry,” said Ho. “This, of course, is dependent on whether any other competitors from the group also qualify and the number points they accumulate against what I have accumulated.”
Ho returned to equestrian after a two-year break to help Hong Kong to a bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. Hong Kong was narrowly beaten by China and Thailand in the Olympic side qualifiers for eventing in Saumur, France last month, which would have guaranteed three individual spots.
“Currently, it is looking pretty good. I’m just looking for better horsepower, more horses and sponsors.”
Instead, Ho now needs to qualify as an individual for the 65-rider competition in Tokyo. Eventing comprises all three equestrian disciplines – dressage, cross country and show jumping.
“I’m focusing on eventing because I think it’s our best shot,” he said. “Japan and other major contenders from the region [such as Australia and New Zealand] have already qualified so we have fewer countries to compete against.”
Like all riders who have either qualified or are seeking Olympic 2020 places, one of Ho’s main concerns is having enough horses to prepare fully for the Games. In the lead-up to Tokyo, he will be looking for sponsors and owners who can fund the upkeep of at least five horses – the best one of which will accompany him to the Games.
For now, Ho’s only horse is Tayberry and the rider had high praise for the gelding. “Cannot believe this little legend Tayberry has just shocked me and proved me wrong,”
He wrote on his Facebook page, while also hailing Coach Nicole Pearson – who convinced him to come out of retirement and compete in the 2014 Asian Games.
Ho, who grew up in Hong Kong riding in Pok Fu Lam and Beas River, is part of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s equestrian program. The son of a Chinese father and Irish mother is based in Marlborough, UK.
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