Yesterday the Springpaarden Fonds Nederland (SFN) announced that Eric van der Vleuten no longer will be riding their horse Utascha. Today Eric comments on the loss of the horse to WoSJ. “They came on Wednesday and told me that they had decided that somebody else would be riding Utascha in the future,” Eric says.
“My reaction was that I found this action low, and I felt they were behaving unacceptable. You just don’t take a horse from a rider that have been riding that horse for five years and brought it on to top level – ten months before the Olympic Games. I told them that I would not accept this kind of behavior, and especially not from horse people like that [SFN]. Who can do such a thing?”
“My issue is not that I ride Utascha the best. My point is that when the SFN chose me to ride Utascha they knew me and my riding inside and out. They should have known back then whether Utascha should have been with me or not, they can’t come now five years later when they knew me so well when they picked me,” Eric says.
“After the visit on Wednesday the SFN had a meeting. On Thursday they called and told me they were sticking with their decision to find a new rider for Utascha, but that I was allowed to jump her next weekend in Assen. I told them straight away that my lorry was running already and that I wanted an address where I could deliver her. They told me that she could go to Jeroen, and that he would take care of Utascha until they find a new rider for her. In my opinion it will be him [Jeroen] who will be riding her, but I’m not sure!”
“I don’t think it’s fair to treat people like this. Their explanation is that the results at the championships have been disappointing. I find this quite hard to accept with Utascha’s good results over the past seasons; she has been one of the best and most consistent horses on the Dutch team – not to forget in Europe. “
“I think the SFN feel a great amount of pressure when it comes to Utascha. The five selectors for the SFN [Hans Horn, Egbert Schep, Emile Hendrix, Willy van der Ham and Johan Heins] pick out all the horses for the SFN, and over the years that they have been doing this they have only managed to pick out one horse that has reached top level – and that has been Utascha. The rest of their selected horses have not been half that good. So I think they feel the pressure; after all their goal was to produce championship horses,” Eric finishes off.
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