During the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, World of Showjumping will have Piet Raijmakers as our expert commentator. Piet Raijmakers has gold medals from the Olympic Games, the World Championships and the European Championships. This is what Raijmakers had to say after the second day of competition in Caen:
“I thought Wednesday’s course was a very fair one, and it was very nicely built. It required that the riders followed their plan everywhere. It was a little bit spooky though, with the fence design here – where the different jumps have their own theme. I must say that so far Frederic Cottier has done a top job, without ‘killing’ any horse. Every time after a difficult part, there was one or two fences were the horses could breathe a little. The time was also very doable.
The most tricky parts of the track were in my opinion three of the oxers – number three, number eight and number eleven. They were big oxers, out of the corner and two of them on a broken line. This is often difficult for the horses; the horses get the oxer late and then the moment they leave the ground they can get a little bit scared of the width of the jump. Then either you kick and you get a front pole or they go so high up that you can get the back pole.
It was a surprise that countries like Great Britain and Belgium went out yesterday. As to the latter, I think it’s never good when there is a fight ahead of an event like this as to who is going to be on the team. Then it is difficult to have the team spirit, and to get a good result. Like I said yesterday you need four good and top motivated riders here that all can take care for themselves. They need to be responsible for what they are doing, and that is what the teams leading the competition here have.
We have two exotic countries in for the team final; Ukraine and Colombia. That is the sport! They have had good rounds here, they are on a flow – and it’s been beautiful to watch. It’s good for the sport, and it’s a compliment for their trainers who did a good job. As for Ukraine, it is a country that should come forward – they invest a lot in horses and training. Their riders also compete on top level in Europe so I think it’s great they prove themselves here.
There were some beautiful rounds here today, like from Beezie. And – not because I am Dutch – but watching Jeroen and Gerco it looks so easy. We also had a few more like this, like Rodrigo and Rolf. For these riders you stay all day on the tribune so you get to watch them. It’s beautiful to watch, they have so much quietness over them – they just go in and do their job. They don’t care if 20.000 people are watching. They have a plan, they stay focused.
I think that for the team final the course builder will make it a little bit more technical and a little bit bigger – but not much. If he builds a lot bigger, we will just have the occasional clear round – and I don’t think he wants that. I think he wants to put the riders a little bit together to have good sport. I expect it to be very exciting tomorrow.
When you go into that ring in a championship like this, you really need nobody but yourself. You have to be free in everything, and only focus on those fences you have to jump. You go to number one, you go to number one – you don’t think about number four. Then when you have jumped it, touch the ground – well then you can start thinking about number two. But it’s hard to walk the course at seven o’clock in the morning, then ride in the afternoon as anchor rider and in between you see lots of rounds – then you start changing your plan maybe. But the good ones always stay focused, and when they get on the horse they know their job.”
As told to World of Showjumping by Piet Raijmakers
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