“What a crazy weekend! I really don’t know how it all could happen, but the horses have been jumping really good for a long time already – also over the last weeks where I have been in Knokke at the Summer Circuit.
The show in Dublin is amazing, and the crowds really support you – even when you’re not Irish. It is a proper show there, and I have to say that the ground in the grass ring is fantastic.
I had a good show in Dublin last year, and ended 4th in the Grand Prix with Geisha – this year it was even better. It started off so well, with a win with Limestone and then for every day the horses just jumped better and better. Even my 9-year-old Halifax, that is still a bit green, improved so much and went in and won a class.
Ensor jumped fantastic in the Nations Cup, and my team mates did a great job I have to say. Piergiorgio’s horse jumped unbelievable, and Emilio and Bruno also contributed with important clear rounds. When we reached the jump-off against the Irish – that had such a strong team – we all saw it as a real challenge, and said we have to try for the win. We really pushed Piergiorgio to go for it, and so he did – everything just worked out. It was a day of great sport I have to say.
For Italy a top result in the Nations Cup in Dublin was very important, as we really needed it to stay in Europe Division 1. We might not have all that many riders to chose from, but we have a very good group of horses and I think for next year we could be really strong – so we would all like to keep on doing the five-star Nations Cup also in 2017. So, for Hickstead we can certainly not relax – there we just need another top result so we are in for next year too.
Ensor I got the ride on at the end of last year, in October. I took him with me to Wellington to compete him at the WEF, and as I could jump him every week and step him a bit up or down depending on him I got to know him really well quite quickly. So, I got a real advantage of taking him there. He has just gotten better and better over the summer. I find him to be a real genius; he has a fantastic mentality, all the scope and is really careful. He also gets faster and faster now. Ensor knows his job in the ring, and that makes me put all my confidence in him.
I also think the group of horses I took to Dublin really benefited from spending the previous weeks in Knokke. Ensor competed at the five-star the opening week, and jumped double clear to end 5th in the Grand Prix. After this he got a few easy weeks, while Limestone then jumped a bit bigger with some very good results. For the last weeks I had a group of younger horses there that got to jump, and that will be ready to keep going when I get home from Hickstead. The facilities in Knokke are great for getting the horses ready for bigger things, and the course designers are also second-to-none. For me it was the perfect way to get ready for Dublin.
To go on to win the Grand Prix after a weekend already like this, gives endless amount of motivation. To have horses like I have now just makes you ride different, and I am so happy I got the chance to work at Stephex Stables. It really gave me the chance to step up at the top level. Stephan really loves the sport, and gives all his riders really good horses. He also pushes us all to go for the win. It is also very motivating to work with such a group of riders that we have at Stephex. Everybody is at a high level, and we all support and help each other. And, when one of us does well the rest of the group are happy and feel part of the success. It is something special.”
As told to World of Showjumping by Lorenzo De Luca
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