World of Showjumping got Dutch rider Marc Houtzager’s expert opinion on the two days of competition so far in Aachen, and what we can expect today as the team final is coming up.
“On the first day, the class was fair and it was a nice course - not too big. There were not so many options though in this speed class, there were rightly enough two at the end were 8ab and 9 was - but they all went for the same choice there. I would maybe have wished for a bit more options, but what is a bit difficult for the course builder here is the dressage ring in the middle of the arena, as you have to build around it - that makes the alternatives when they build more limited.
Yesterday we also saw a fair course. The countries that have less experienced riders also need to jump it, and I think the course builder gave them a good chance - we saw no bad falls or mistakes. I think the course opened well, with nice distances - some riders misjudged their distance to the water and got a bad jump there - and then there was six or seven strides to the next vertical. The Mercedes-Benz vertical towards the end caused some trouble and also the last oxer-oxer combination as it was quite short in there, but everything was fair.
Today I think it will be a whole lot more difficult. They have the open water on the other side of the arena from yesterday, and it will be away from the exit not towards it - which also will make it more difficult. So, I think we will see more faults on the water today. It will be a lot more serious today, and they all have to perform and be at their best.
For sure I hope Holland will do well today, but there are some very good teams here and it is close on top - even within the top five, not just the top three. Germany has the pressure on as host nation, but in a good way I think. Our team is very strong with the World Championships riders on it. I think the French have a good team here, and I would not rule Ukraine out - they have strong riders on their team here and then there is Great Britain of course.
I think a lot will happen today, but I think that we will have those five teams fighting for the gold medal.
What will be important today is how the first rider on each team performs. If the first rider has a good round, then there is less pressure - if not it’s on and the rest will really have to do well.
Let’s see what happens!"
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