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The WoSJ guest blogger from the last day at the Europeans; Rob Hoekstra

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Hi everyone,

Well, obviously we came here with the intention to do really well and I thought we had a really good team. The planning has been towards this championship, because we thought we would like to keep the momentum going that we gained from the Olympic Games. We had horses that all could jump clear rounds, I thought at the time they were selected.

I was really impressed when I saw this place, especially the arena. I thought it was a beautiful setting and to ride in a stadium like this is really nice. They struggled a little with the footing just in the beginning because it went in a little bit late I think, but it got better and better all the time.

We had a plan to start off quite quick with our horses in the speed class. From experience we know that you need to be up front from the first day, because otherwise you never catch up with the others. We felt we started off really well. Obviously the Nations Cup was fantastic - especially the first day was spectacular for us. We're not used to be in front; we have been coming from behind before and it is a slightly different thing. But we got really good guys that are great under pressure. We put Scotty last because he is the "ice-man" - he is the youngest out of the guys, but he is so cool and is really good under pressure. I like putting Ben first because he is quick so we don't have any problem with the time, and we always have a very good plan since Ben knows exactly what he wants to do when he is getting in the ring. So he is a great first rider when Nick isn't here. Normally Nick is my first rider and has been for many years, but Ben is definetly going to be in that position because I think that is his best place. He likes to get on with it and he doesn't want to see lots of people doing different things, he wants to do his thing in the ring. That was the set-up for the team and it worked really well.

On the second day obviously the pressure came on Scott eventually, which I knew was going to happen because it always does at the Championships or Nations Cups. But he rode a great round! He made it a bit exciting with knocking a jump down, which eventually probably cost him a silver medal at least, but that's how it is in the sport and it is very difficult to be consistent over this period of time.

It was a great victory, and also great to be in front of a very strong German team. I have huge respect for the German team because they have fantastic championship riders and have always performed at championships. And that is what we want to do as a team - try to build towards being a better championship team rather than just a Nations Cup team. The Germans are experts at that, and to be in front of a very strong German team is fantastic for us.

Today in the individual final I suppose it twinched a little with slight disappointment for Ben because he was ahead. Cella jumped so fantastic and for him to have a mistake because the horse jumped up a bit too high is disappointing. It is different if you knock a fence down, but the horse jumped too high and had a touch on it. But obviously we are delighted with a silver and a bronze, but for Ben obviously we were trying to get a gold.

For Scott it was slightly different because he came from behind and he didn't expect to get a medal. We did a plan for him to try and win the class and just concentrating on that. It was like 'jump your two clear rounds and see where you finish up' and as it turned out he was the only double clear. The horse jumped fantastic and again Scott loves that pressure - finishing up with a medal without really thinking about it. And to finish up with a gold, silver and bronze for us is a good result.

We knew Nick wasn't going to do the championship this year because we are going to preserve Big Star a little bit. He only has one horse in Big Star. We want to try to keep him for the World Championships next year because it is a qualifier, and there is just so many championships you can do. All these other boys have more horses so that is a little easier. And it is also nice to have three new championship horses here, because as you know it is only Scott's horse that was at the Olympic Games. And horses needs to get experience from the championship format so for the next Games and for the World Championship I have more to pick from. We are trying to think ahead a little bit were we want to be going, and obviously our main aim is Rio so we are trying to build a team for that.

It's been a great championship, and full compliments to the organization. It must be difficult to have a non-horse site that you make into an equestrian center in just a short time. They did a great job, it's been great hospitality and we really enjoyed being here.

Rob

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