There are some people in the eventing world who have achieved enough to just go by one name now. We talk about Pippa, Lucinda, Toddy and many more. Yoshiaki Oiwa has become Yoshi. He’s represented Japan at the last three Olympic Games (and led at London after dressage) but the 2017 season has proved to be his best yet. Three wins at three-star level this season means he is now the most successful Japanese rider in history at the level (4 wins). He started 2017 by winning the CIC3* at Barroca d’Alva with his Rio mount The Duke of Cavan before going on to finish 8th at Badminton. We love the Duke, and it was a big call to decide which Japanese horse to send forward as an #ERHOTY nominee. In the end, Calle 44 and his Bramham win made the cut. It was wet and windy. It was a not a day that you could win just by buying a good horse. It was the first time in history a Japanese rider has won a CCI3* outside of Japan. It was enough to make sure he made the #ERHOTY17 list!
Produced to two-star level by Germany’s Peter Thomsen and Sweden’s Louise Svensson Jähde, Calle 44 came to Yoshi ahead of the 2016 season. Last year they finished 30th at Bramham CCI3* in the horse’s debut at the level — what a difference a year makes! Looking at their international results in 2016 and their form at the 2017 season, you likely wouldn’t have guessed Calle 44 would go on to win Bramham, plus the CIC3* at Strzegom to cap the year. With nine international runs in 2017 — more than any of our other #ERHOTY17 nominees — Calle 44 had a busy season and a successful one at that.
After starting the 2017 season with some show jumping in Spain on the Sunshine Tour, it was on to Barroca d’Alva and a pair of lackluster one-star results for Calle 44. Yoshi trains with Dirk Schrade year-round and spent time at Pippa Funnell’s yard in the UK preparing for his spring campaign. Yoshi and Calle 44 quickly shook off the rocky start to the year – a 45.9 FOD to finish 10th in the CIC2* at Burnham Market before stepping up to CIC3* to finish 13th at the Event Rider Masters at Chatsworth, delivering his best three-star dressage score to date (42.9), adding 6.0 cross country time penalties and his only show jumping rail.
Then it was on to Bramham where Calle 44 made his second career CCI3* start — and did he make it one to remember! They sat in 5th after dressage on 43.0 and moved up to 3rd place after cross country with 2.4 time penalties on a wet and wild day when only one pair made the time (Nicola Wilson and One Two Many). But it was a tough show jumping day that ultimately determined the outcome. The coloured poles went flying in the CCI3*, with only five combinations (15.1% of the field) ultimately delivering clear rounds. Yoshi and Calle 44’s time spent show jumping in Spain early in the season paid off, as they delivered one of those five faultless rounds to take the historic CCI3* win on a final score of 45.4. They ultimately added fewer penalties to their dressage score than any other pair in the 59-horse field.
Calle 44 & Yoshi Oiwa win Bramham CCI3* – the first win for a Japanese rider at CCI3* level outside of Japan. pic.twitter.com/IufDu7f7cN
— EquiRatings (@EquiRatings) June 11, 2017
That alone might have been enough to consider them for the list but there was more to come! Yoshi and Calle 44 then went on to represent Japan in the Nations Cup at Waregem, adding 10 cross country time penalties to their dressage score to finish 5th on 57.6. They then capped their stellar 2017 season at Strzegom in a big way, throwing down a three-star personal best in the dressage of 42.6 to lead from the first phase. Yoshi and Calle 44 defended the lead with a clear show jumping round to set the stage for a nail-biting cross country finale. Could they lead wire-to-wire? They kept their cool under pressure as the final pair to go, delivering the fastest round of the day by 6 seconds to add 4.4 time penalties and clinch the win on 47.0.
Calle 44’s three top-five finishes came in his last three runs of 2017, and only Horseware Hale Bob had more wins this season amongst our #ERHOTY17 nominees. In dressage, Yoshi and Calle 44 started the season with a 50.2 at Barroca d’Alva and capped the year with a three-star personal best of 42.6. He also has a 100% clear cross country rate this season and delivered seven double clear runs. His one show jumping rail in eight runs gives him a 78% clear rate for 2017, the second highest of our nominees. As the cherry on top, Calle 44’s 45.4 winning score at Bramham is his lowest finishing score at three-star level to date. We talk about them all the time as the dark horses to watch for WEG 2018. Will Japan have your vote when the polls open next week?
Listen to the #ERHOTY17 episode of the Horseware Eventing Podcast to hear how we finalized the list of 12 nominees. Keep checking back to the EquiRatings blog for analysis articles on all 12: fischerRocana FST, Nereo, Arctic Soul, Horseware Hale Bob, Ballaghmor Class, Bulana, Hunter Valley II, Donner, Cekatinka, Calle 44, Ivar Gooden and Foxwood High.