This week WoSJ has been extremely lucky, and will have no other than Rodrigo Pessoa as our guest commentator from the European Championships in Herning. Below Rodrigo speaks about the first day of the championship, how the speed leg affects the outcome for the riders and horses, the top three Ben, Steve and Bosty, the favorites and what's to come.
“I think the track was not very big – a 1.50, but I think with the days to come it is not necessary to go very big also on the first day. Today was the opportunity also for some weaker countries to finish in a nice way. Despite this there were mistakes on all fences except from fence number one – which means that the course was well balanced.
It was a good winner – an expected winner, I think he was one of the favorites. The horse jumped very good, he took the risk, he took the opportunity – the horse she has a big stride and is a big mover, so he used this and it was a good round. Steve was also one of the favorites, and played his cards very well.
I think Nino looked fresh, he has had a good program – his last big show was Aachen and then he did just one national show since then. So he’s had a good program and good planning, and the rider knows him very well. Steve could have won today if he wanted to, but I think he is looking at the big picture – he really is looking for Saturday as he was disappointed to lose at the World Cup Final this year. So I think Steve is very focused on winning this championship. And I think he can be counted as a big favorite.
Kevin Staut was also very good, as was Bosty. We’ll see if he can keep it up for the entire championship, but he always goes for it! So I think in general there were not many big surprises today.
As to the teams; the French now has one rail in hand to Great Britain – but I think there is still a lot to be done with two rounds and a lot of jumping left. The Germans I think had some little mistakes here and there, they could have been a little bit closer – but I think they will be strong in the days to come.
For those who went really fast today, the effect it has on the horse really depends. With Nino for example it doesn’t really matter, that’s his rhythm – if it was a normal table A class he would maybe had gone a little slower. It is the particularity of this championships that if you want to be somewhere individually you have to play the game on the first day, and tomorrow the riders need to get the horses back together for the first round of the team competition.
The first day plays a big part for the end results. You can of course also end high up if you are 10th or 11th today, but something has to go seriously wrong for those ahead and you need to be really sharp to jump another four clear rounds. Like Sergio today, he was disappointed afterwards – he was going for the top five as that was the plan from the beginning and then had the last down – finishing 16th. He is more than a rail behind and now he has to jump four clear rounds, he has no choice. So, it is a very fine line between how much to go in the first round and how much to be conservative.”
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