After his win in Geneva in December, Nino had nearly eight weeks completely off – just walking, being in the woods and in the paddocks. He has not been working hard at all, and after these eight weeks we started up slowly. Nino just jumped one show before we came here – in Lanaken ten days ago; he did two 1.35 classes, one 1.40 class and then one 1.50 class.
For me Nino is such an amazing horse that I want to keep him as long as possible, so that is why I allow him so many breaks as I do. I really don't think I will have a horse like this again in my life, and managed like this he is still one of the horses that wins the most over the year – showing a lot less than all the other ones. I am hoping that like this I am going to give him maybe two or three years extra. That would be my goal at least, so we will see.
Nino is feeling very good. On Friday he felt super, and on today he felt amazing already in the warm-up. In the ring he was a little bit over-careful in the first round; in the triple combination he jumped too high – it's not that I am losing confidence, but it gets more difficult then – especially with the line that came after that and I had to add a stride there towards the combination. I have always had the problem with him that he jumps too far in the combinations, and the most difficult is always the ones with a vertical-oxer. He can jump the vertical too far in, and then he comes too close to the oxer and then he doesn't want to touch the fence and can go so high that he cannot make the back bar. So I am always trying to come as quiet as possible in those vertical-oxer combinations. When you have a distance like that – with four strides a little long – he can make the ground no problem and get there, but then he is going to be too much forwards and be too close to the b-element. It's always the most difficult for me with him; a forwards distance into a vertical-oxer combination.
It was maybe not so easy today, but definitely the form is there – the control maybe needs to be a little bit better until Monday because it will be a few centimetres wider and higher. It was ok for today, and it was actually good for me to be able to go into the jump-off as it gave me a little bit of an easier round and more confidence ahead of Monday.
There is one Nino. He is a different kind of horse. But a better one than this, I think will be hard to find. I am not looking for having another like him either, I already feel very privileged to have a horse like this.
As to the time allowed – to be honest, it was a big surprise for me when Frank explained on the press conference that it was the judges that didn't allow him to change it. I thought this was quite stupid. The rules are maybe made by the bureaucracy, but in my opinion it is important that the appliance should come from horse people and athletes – and here we have a very good and experienced course designer who should be allowed a lot more than what FEI judges did yesterday.
A lot of horses are jumping very good here. For sure if those down to rank ten will jump double clear on Monday they will stand a good chance of being in the top three. But you need a little bit of luck, there are a lot of good riders and horses.
I am looking forward to doing my best and see what happens.
As told to WoSJ by Steve Guerdat
This photo has been added to your cart !Your shopping cart »