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The WoSJ show review; Steve Guerdat on CHI Geneva

Thursday, 19 December 2013

In this week’s WoSJ show review no other than Steve Guerdat sums up the CHI Geneva. And as Steve concludes when it comes to the facilities at the show – everything is just so easy in Geneva! And then the show itself of course became a very special one for Steve as he won the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday riding Nino des Buissonnets.

”There are many things that make the CHI Geneva special. First of all it’s the ring – it’s unique for an indoor show to have such a huge ring. It’s just like riding outdoors, and it’s very impressive – also with all the audience surrounding it. The ground is fantastic every year, and this year was no exception! Secondly, the warm-up is spacious and on good footing as well – with plenty of space to work the horses.

What I really like is that everything is under the same roof; the ring, the warm-up, the stables, the parking for the trucks – it’s very practical. You don’t have to go in and out through cold and then get hot, but if you need and want to take the horses out it’s still possible to go outside with them in fresh air. The hotel is also next door, you just walk one minute and you are there.

The staff in Geneva is also extremely helpful, and they help the grooms unload the horses on arrival if necessary and always keep the stables nice and clean. The grooms are taken well care of, with good food and drinks.

Everything is just so easy in Geneva!

The crowd in Geneva is unique! I mean you can have good atmosphere at other shows as well, but usually they are a lot smaller in size and more intimate – but here it’s this huge crowds cheering for all the riders. It’s just a fantastic experience, and it really fits the show. For the crowd is also only about the sport; and it always has been! I really appreciate that.

For many years there were not a lot of prize money to win in Geneva, but everybody still wanted to go there and win – because of the prestige. What I really like is that even though the organizers now very well deserved have got a great sponsor – Rolex – in their back to increase the prize money to a completely new level, the show remains the same, and the focus is still on creating top sport. That is amazing; especially when you look around on the showjumping circuit and see how easy it is too just make it about the money.

With Rolex now in as a strong sponsor, I am of the opinion that this is a proof that you can start up with quite a small show and build your way up by centering the show on the sport – and if you do that right you can in the end offer great sponsors and prize money. It’s what the sport should be all about!

For me it is of course extra special to compete in Geneva. I get in the ring, and I hear all those people cheering – and it makes me want to fight! Of course, when it doesn’t go my way it makes it a lot harder to accept when I am on home soil – compared to when I compete elsewhere in the world. I want to win for the crowds, it’s my way of being able to say ‘thank you for coming’. That’s why a disappointment there is felt more than at other shows, and why it makes it even more special to win. If a home rider wins in Geneva, I think 90 % of the spectators think ‘we won’ when they go home that night. They feel as a part of the win!

So for me, needless to say, it was only a win that counted on Sunday. After all my second places this year, I would not settle for anything else than the number one spot. When I left the ring, I was not sure my jump-off was going to be the winning round though – it was nice and smooth, but I did not really take any real risk – I started fast, but then I slowed it down a bit again on the line with the combination to the oxer – and these days you hardly win if you don’t take risk. When Doda rode a much faster round than I did, with a very unfortunate fault – I thought ‘S…, my round will not be good enough’. I was sure one of the others in the jump-off was going to be faster!

In the end I won though, and it was a very big win for me! A big part of my career was build up at this show, and on Sunday it continued. My best horses have always won there, and this time it was Nino’s turn. And like for me – much of Jalisca’s career happened there as well, which was why it was great to retire her in Geneva.

Saying goodbye to Jalisca was of course emotional. Now she is back home, and ridden lightly every day – we go down with everything now for her; the riding, the feed, the blacksmith and the vet. Step by step we prepare her for the field, until she is ready. The in springtime she goes to Normandy to breed. I have not made up my mind about which stallion is right for her yet – for that I will consult the experts and then make my decision.

I really wanted to please everybody this weekend. At a home show you are surrounded by people, and it was very busy for me. It was also one of my groom Heidi’s very last shows, and it was the last show for Nino before he gets a longer break – so to win was a real pay-off. The pressure was on, and to then make it to the top is of course a huge relief. “

As told to WoSJ by Steve Guerdat

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