Alvaro de Miranda is currently ranked as Brazil’s best rider in the world, and recently he paid a first time visit to the Top Ten on the Rolex Ranking. WoSJ sat down with the 39 year old to talk about his business AD Sports Horses, show organizing in Rio, the importance of the grooms, Olympic plans – and of course his famous white partner AD Ashleigh Drossel Dan.
Miranda grew up in his native Brazil, but has been based in Europe since 1995 when he went to stay ay Nelson Pessoa’s yard at Haras de Lingy in Belgium. “I always dreamed about my own place and my own space though,” Doda – as he is commonly known as – lets us know. “So, it was a dream come true when we bought our own yard in Valkenswaard from Jan Tops two years ago. It was a big change for us, but it’s a fantastic place. We now have a 1000 meter race track, a big grass arena with similar features to the one in Aachen, a 75x35 indoor arena and a big forest where we can hack the horses,” Doda says of his and his wife Athina’s dream place. “It’s a very good place for the horses,” he adds – and you can see the spark in his eyes. At their yard Doda and Athina have about twenty horses. “We don’t really trade horses. We only sell if the horses don’t live up to our expectations or if it doesn’t work out in other ways,” he explains of AD Sports Horses. The two top riders have company at their yard; seven grooms make sure the horses are all under top care, there is a stable manager, a person responsible for the office and a veterinary. All aspects have been considered so that horses and riders can perform at their best.
Both Doda and Athina now receive a helping hand from top Belgian rider Jos Lansink. “We have an agreement with Jos so that he helps us at the shows,” Doda lets us know. “At home it’s me who trains Athina – and myself,” he smiles. “I have to say that I am grateful to ride everyday with Athina, and I am so proud of her level today! She is trying so hard every day, and I'm sure she will reach the top in a few years!”
Speaking to Doda requires speaking about his beautiful white partner AD Ashleigh Drossel Dan. The 14 year old by Drosselklang II was bought by AD Sport Horses in June 2010, and Doda and Dan hit it off immediately. “Everything went very quickly with us in the beginning; it felt like I knew him right from the start. We did five shows together and then we went to the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky,” Doda tells us. “Dan is sensible and has super scope! He’s quite simple to ride, but I have to adjust to him otherwise I can make my life a bit difficult for myself. And he can’t be ridden with a too strong seat,” Doda smiles. “He once jumped 17 rounds in a row without any faults,” he adds proudly of his partner. On the question if Drossel Dan is Doda’s favorite in the stable, he confirms without doubt that yes – he is.
Another exciting horse in Doda’s string is AD Rahmannshof Bogeno. The twelve year old gelding by Baloubet de Rouet – who himself was extremely successful flying the Brazilian flag – joined the AD team in October 2011. “Bogeno is a very good horse, but I’m still getting to know him. I went a little quick with him in the beginning, and did some Grand Prix classes maybe a bit too fast as he needed to become a bit more fit first,” Doda explains. “I think he will be great this season though! He’s very scopey, but a little spooky,” he smiles.
It’s almost given that Doda will be a part of the Brazilian team in London. But which horse will he pick? “Drossel Dan would be my first option. He didn’t start this year so good though, so we gave him a break and will start him up again in Antwerpen. I’ll do one or two GCT shows with him, and then the main goal is the Olympics,” Doda explains.
On Brazil’s team Doda tells us that there are some good riders to choose from. “There’s Rodrigo who has a very good feeling about Ciske Van Overis [who was bought from Edwina Tops-Alexander right ahead of New Year’s]. Then there’s Bernardo Alves, Pedro Vennis and Karina Johanpeter. There are 27 combinations on the long list; the sport is growing a lot in Brazil - it’s really great,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s Rodrigo that will choose the Brazilian team – in cooperation with our chef d’equipe Jean-Maurice Bonneau. The team will meet up at our place ahead of the Games to train together for 7-10 days; we did that in 2010 as well before the WEG in Kentucky,” he says. “Those days are all about final tuning and about getting together to create a good feeling – we watch each other and give each other some different opinions,” the two-time Olympic medalist says about how the team prepares and works together.
Doda is not only an excellent rider; he is also an experienced show organizer by now. Each year since 2007 he has put on the Athina Onassis International Horse Show in Rio de Janeiro. The show has up until this year been a part of the Global Champions Tour, but in 2012 from 24-26 of August it stands on its own feet. “We had a total of 1.3 million Euro in prize money last year; this year it’s increased to 1.450 million Euros,” Doda says. “We also have a special class this year – a Nations Challenge – where to riders from each country compete together as a team over two rounds were the faults from the first round and the time from the second round count,” he explains – and you can see how excited he is over this special event. “Saturday night will be under TV coverage as well,” he adds. The riders can also bring a third horse, and everything is paid for by the show organizers. “The show is important for showjumping in South America; it’s the only five star show there,” Doda states.
When Doda first planned the show, he was well prepared. “I had a book with both positive and negative things from different shows written down; so I would say that already from the first year we had quite a good show – I knew what I wanted and what I didn’t want with those different examples. To me it is also important that the grooms are well looked after at the shows; they play one of the most important parts of this sport. So, in Rio we have competitions and special prizes for them. Look to the show in Zürich as well – they have learnt to appreciate the grooms; this year they gave away I-pads to the winning riders’ grooms. I like that a lot and think that more organizers should learn from this way to treat our grooms,” the sympathetic Brazilian rider closes off.
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