Czech Equestrian Team back at Olympic games for the first time since 1936
For the first time in 85 years the Czech Olympic team in Tokyo includes an equestrian group. Four Czech riders qualified for the Olympics this year and will be showing off their skills in the next two weeks. Among them is a promising young horse and a billionaire’s daughter.
The Czech Equestrian Team’s first and so far only Olympic gold medal was won in the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam by Czechoslovak cavalry officer František Ventura.
Together with his horse Elliot, Ventura managed to win Amsterdam’s individual show jumping competition without picking up a single penalty point.
Having retired shortly after his triumph, Ventura would accompany the Czechoslovak Equestrian Team as a referee eight years later to the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936. It would be the last Olympics that included a Czech Equestrian Team for 85 years.
This year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo will see that spell broken, as four Czech riders have qualified for the competition - Anna Kellnerová, Aleš Opatrný, Ondřej Zvára and Kamil Papoušek.
Among their mounts is also “Warness”, an 11-year-old dark-brown stallion who was originally purchased in the Netherlands, but has spent most of his life training in the South Bohemian town of Písek, says horse breeder Jakub Štěrba from the local state-owned stud farm.
“He stayed in our stables from the age of two until he was 9-years-old. Then, at the World Championships in Olomouc, Warness showed that he is capable of competing internationally and was offered as a mount to Kamil Papoušek for the Olympic Games.”
Kamil Papoušek has since had several opportunities to try out the horse. The duo helped the Czech team win this year’s Nations Cup in the Prague Cup international equestrian competition and also held their ground in the subsequent prestigious Piazza di Siena International Horse Show in Rome.
However, his rider Kamil Papoušek says that Warness is unfazed by all of the associated hassle.
“I know that he has a lot of character and a big heart. Warness is also incredibly calm, so I know that he has no problem with all of the associated antics, such as the flight to Tokyo. He is not nervous and keeps his concentration.”
Only three team riders are allowed to take part in each of the various equestrian disciplines, which means that one member of the team will have to act as a reserve.
However, rider Ondřej Zvára said that the team has already decided to switch ahead of the individual and group disciplines, so that each team member gets a chance to represent.
For now, it looks as though Warness and Kamil Papoušek will be competing in the individual competitions.
Papoušek’s fellow team member Anna Kellnerová is also likely to garner attention in Tokyo.
The 24-year-old showjumper is the only woman in the Czech Equestrian Team and is the daughter of Petr Kellner, who was the Czech Republic’s richest man until he was tragically killed in a helicopter accident earlier this year.
Kellnerová is a two-time Czech junior national champion and was part of the team that won the Nations Cup in Prague this year. She will be riding Catch Me If You Can Old, an experienced mare which was a given to her as a gift by her father.
Six equestrian events are taking place at this year’s Tokyo Olympics. Qualifiers for the team show jumping competition, which is the most highly anticipated among Czech riding fans, will begin at 12pm on August 6.