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    Longines Rankings Show Jumping Number 1: Steve Guerdat (SUI) Photo: Hippo Foto/Dirk Caremans

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For five years, Japanese rider Eiken Sato was off the competition stage and out of the international jumping arena. The former Stephex rider has now reported back into the limelight at the Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera (ESP). Here, Sato rode Gestüt Lewitz horses; and with Paul Schockemöhle the Japanse rider has started his second career. In the summer of 2014, 33 year old Eiken Sato disappears from the international stage after 188 starts and nine victories. Family affairs saw the rider fly back to his native Japan. Eiken Sato grew up in the Buddhist temple complex of Ogawa in the mountains near Nagano, where his father headed the temple. There were no cars, so all the locals travelled on foot or on horseback. This forged the special connection between the Sato family and horses. Eiken’s father Shodo Sato was not only a Buddhist monk, but also a member of the Japanese jumping team looking to qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. A global boycott on these Olympics following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan laid waste to Shodo Sato’s dream. His son Eiken had dreams of his own, however, competing for Japan at the 2008 Hong Kong Olympics and the WEG of 2006 in Aachen and 2010 in Lexington. At the age of 18, he moved to Belgium to join the Stephex Stables as a very successful stable rider. Older brother Kenki also caught the horse bug severely, opting instead for eventing and representing the Japanse team at the 2012 London Olympics. Now, after a five year absence, Eiken Sato is firmly back in Europe and back in the saddle, riding and competing for Paul Schockemöhle.

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