In the first WoSJ show review of the 2014 indoor season, we speak with Ireland’s super talented Alex Duffy – who had a great weekend at Jumping Amsterdam ending third in the four star Grand Prix riding the aptly named Living The Dream.
“I really wanted to go to Jumping Amsterdam as I had heard so many good things about the show; everybody said it was amazing there. So, I put my name down already in December and hoped for a spot. But, as there were a lot of Irish riders wanting to go there I was originally not accepted for the show. I kept pushing and asking though, and on Monday I even called the show director and told I would be happy just to go with one horse as well if somebody would pull out in the last minute. But there were no spaces available. On Thursday around four o’clock I was called up though, and they had a stable free and I could come with one horse – so it was a bit of a rush, but we packed and hit the road and was there about ten minute before the trot-up was finished!
I would like to thank the organizers for giving me the chance to compete at this event. It is not easy for young riders such as myself – who are slowly trying to climb up the rankings – to get into a show like this, or any other three or four star event. It is actually nearly impossible. So, to get the chance to prove myself really means a lot!
There is only one word needed to describe this show; amazing! Everything is close – the stables, the warm-ups, the ring, the trucks – so the infrastructure is great. The stables were also nice for the horses, with good air and not too stuffed. The main ring was fantastic, and the crowds too – they were really interested and even waited for the prize givings, that does not happen that often! The audience really loved the sport, and then to get somebody like John Whitaker winning the Grand Prix is really something special. I also think the course designer Louis Konickx hit the nail on the head in every class, and everybody had a good feeling around his tracks.
My horse Living The Dream is a nine year old Belgian bred by Toulon owned by Cameron Hanley – I work for his brother Carl. I started riding Living The Dream in the middle of his sixth year, due to Cameron sustaining an injury. Actually I have been riding the horse before that as well – as I spent a little time at Enda Carroll’s Ashford Farm where Cameron bought the horse from at the end of his fifth year. So, I have known Living The Dream for quite some time.
He is really like a dream horse! As we know each other well, I trust him 100 % and I think he trusts me the same way. His two clear rounds yesterday was second to none, and I was so happy with him! He moved up the classes last year from the youngsters’ and I jumped him in the Les Talents Hermes in Grand Palais in Paris during the spring where he was clear in every class. From there we moved on, and jumped him in some 1.50 classes. At the end of summer I got the chance to jump him on the Irish Nations Cup team in Arezzo where he was clear. After jumping great in Mechelen in December, I started him up again in Drachten the weekend before Amsterdam and had only one time penalty in the Grand Prix. So, when I got one time penalty in the 1.50 class on Friday I was determined to stay inside the time allowed yesterday.
It’s not easy to be first to go in such a field of riders, but we decided to turn it to something positive. I just got into the ring and got on with it. We just stuck with our plan and it worked out well. It was amazing to end third, and I had such a good feeling on Living The Dream yesterday – it’s really hard to describe!”
As told to WoSJ by Alex Duffy
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