Jane Thompson talks to the Kiwi riders who made it through the cross-country phase of the eventing competition at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy.
Fifth on Nereo
Nereo is probably the most experienced horse in the competition. The ground out there was horrendous. They made a beautiful job of the ground in the warm up, yet the ground out on course was horrendous. It’s not good enough.
All the way up the hill to the last, he felt a bit confused until he saw the last fence. He wasn’t slowing down and he felt like he kept his stride very well for a big powerful horse, he normally would like the top of the ground better. I was very very proud of him.
I just thought I would start off at the correct speed and try and get the time. You win nothing starting off slowly, I would have been better off to have withdrawn and taken him to Burghley if I thought I wouldn’t make the time. Once you are in an individual position, you make the most of the chance. It’s lucky when you have got a horse as long as I have had him. I felt quite confident if I kept concentrating he would keep plugging on. I know how fit he is and I know what he does at the top of the gallops when he is tired. He just keeps going. I was getting a little depressed as quite early on I realised I was late, and then I kept getting a little later and a little later. I think he must have pegged some of the time back by the time we got to the finish which I don’t think many have done.
Was the ground worse at the end of the day? The riders told me it was horrendous at the beginning. I trust them, they know. We just felt walking it, it was going to be the same for everybody. It might have looked beautiful for the early ones but when you are sinking in you are sinking in. I tried to go around the fresh stuff but to be honest, I felt like I spent more energy criss-crossing the track. When I got on the fresh stuff, it felt exactly the same as the stuff the other riders had been on. I would think it has been the same the whole day.
The ground in the warm up was beautiful. It is grass as well.
I personally think it would have been better if the minute was left in and I think Pierre is clever enough to know. I was one who was quite happy for it to be taken out but I would have liked the two brush fences taken out as well. That would have meant we didn’t have to go up that hill at all. Whereas what he has done is that the hill only had one jump. It was over a minute. While it was a hill, it was gentle. You got to the top and you had like three quarters of a minute downhill run without a jump. The ground was good down the hill but as it was you came from the water, around over the milk churns, then you had the three jumps, 150 metres two big brushes, another 150 metres to the corner. That is serious, full-on jumping with some big hills where the ground was deep. When you put the jumps close togeher, it is more tiring. I think he made it harder but good on him. People wanted a hill taken out and he took it out and he will know it made it harder to get the time.
We will see what happens tomorrow, he is a good jumper, he has been there before and I am hoping to move on up.
How badly do you want it? I will leave that down to your imagination.
Fourth on Classic Moet
We needed a little ray of sunshine, didn’t we! I didn’t really go out with too much of a plan. I haven’t had the horse very long, she is not like other horses that perhaps you have at this level that you know inside out. She has only done the one four-star at Luhmuehlen four months ago and it wouldn’t be a patch on the track we had here today. My plan was to go out and keep asking questions and see how well she responded, and then make the plan onwards from there. She kept answering the questions and kept travelling well.
She is small, she is a blood horse, she is light on her feet. She is very courageous, she has a big heart and is very determined. I did try and go to the new ground. I started on the inside and I felt we were struggling a bit so I actually moved to the outside tracks all the way around and I found that much better.
If anything was going to canter across the ground, I think it was probably going to be her.
Some jumps were probably better than others, you can’t be perfect out there, I certainly didn’t have any moments when I felt we were not going to stand up or go around the flags, so I think I came home pretty lucky really, I had a pretty good ride.
Before I left, the boys told me that I had to go for broke because it was either an individual or nothing. I was swaying towards going long at the last water. They said no, if she feels good and is full of running, take it on. Andrew Nicholson told me to chance her a little at the vertical first, make her work a bit so that was my plan. I came down trying to do that but she took off a stride early and wasn’t having a bar of it. I lost a rein and then I wasn’t in a position to taking on the bounce. I opted for the option.
I had sort of given up on the clock to be fair. I wasn’t far off at four, five and six, I knew it was more about riding the horse than riding the clock so it was beeping away at me but I just kept going, I just rode her as she felt. I came out of the last water and let the reins go a bit and she tore off up the hill. It is those kind of moments that you are really grateful to be on a blood horse.
She hasn’t done anything at this level before, but like I said, she is a really courageous little mare and I think that got her a long way today.
She is a little bit unorthodox in her style, but she is very careful. I have only done a couple of three-day-events on her but she certainly jumps well typically. Her one-day record is very good. Provided she comes through tonight well, then I would be as confident as one could be going into the last day after a day like today.