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Di Lampard on Olympic preparations: “Hopefully the horses will be fresh and peaking towards the Games”

Thursday, 27 May 2021
Interview

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Di Lampard. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping

 


 

First the Covid-19 pandemic, then the EHV-1 outbreak – preparations towards the Olympic Games in Tokyo have been far from optimal for the horses and riders. With a current number of five CSIO5* Nations Cups in the calendar from May to July, the first one in Rome this week, WoSJ called up a few Chef d’Equipes to learn more about which challenges they are facing as selection deadlines are drawing closer. Third out is British Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard.

“On top of the Covid-19 pandemic and the EHV-1 outbreak, the British riders have suffered with Brexit,” Lampard explains. “This really has not helped the situation, in more ways than one. When the shows did start to open up again, there were unfortunately lots of hoops for the British riders to jump through. They had to get various certificates for themselves and their staff to travel abroad, as well as an authorisation for their lorries. The inspection could only be made in Europe or Ireland resulting in lots of empty lorries having to make this added journey. We have also experienced some horse welfare issues, as there have been hours of waiting at the customs – which just shouldn’t happen. The welfare of the horse should always be paramount. All these factors combined, plus the added expenses, set some of the riders back from going out to the tours at the beginning of the year. Only last weekend, in the middle of May, did three of the riders on our Olympic long-list make their first international start of the year in Europe. So, like everybody else we have had challenges – but we have also had the Brexit-factor to deal with.”

“Throughout it all, the riders have kept very positive,” Lampard says. “We have tried to support them as much as we can – through the World Class program, that runs in Great Britain, which is supported by UK Sport & Lottery funding. With our sport still able to keep ticking away, we feel we are in a privileged position – and we should be very grateful to the organisers and the people behind the scenes that have been working endlessly to be able to run shows despite the challenging circumstances. Hopefully we can get some form of normality from here on; we can see it slowly coming back now.”

 


So, like everybody else we have had challenges – but we have also had the Brexit-factor to deal with.


 

“I think the more experienced horses have benefitted from the breaks they have had – coming off that treadmill of shows,” Lampard points out. “For the riders it has of course been difficult, this is their livelihood, and they need to keep their businesses going.”

“I think everybody is feeling this last year in one way or the other,” Lampard continues. “The shortage of five-star shows has really had a knock-on effect. The riders that normally have gone to the five-star shows, have been competing at the four-, three and even two-star shows, and this has pushed some of the lower-ranked riders and the up-and-coming riders completely out. Only recently have there been opportunities for the lower ranked riders to get into three- and four-star shows again.”

“The younger horses – the now 9- and 10-year-olds – won’t have got that much experience if their riders were looking towards the Games this year,” Lampard says. “At this stage, these horses will probably rather be looking at the European Championships in September. I think it’s fantastic that Ludger and his team are hosting the Europeans; it’s such an opportunity for the riders to work towards – especially the youth, new partnerships and the more experienced riders with maybe different or younger horses. Now, the door is open to more horse-and-rider combinations to show consistency and to perform, leading up to the selections for the Europeans and the Longines FEI Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, which is a fabulous competition. It is exciting that everything is finally getting going again and it’s been great going to shows – finally meeting colleagues and friends, who I have really missed.”

 


I think everybody is feeling this last year in one way or the other.


 

“We have a great blend of youth and experience in our squad this year,” Lampard tells. “Our two highest ranked riders have taken different approaches during these very challenging times. Ben Maher has been in Florida for the past twelve months preparing his team for the summer campaign and it’s great that he is now finally home. Scott Brash has managed his team really well from his home-base, already showing progressive top results.”

“At the moment, we have twelve horse-and-rider combinations on our long list,” Lampard says. “All together, the riders that are higher ranked will have enough shows coming up to prepare for the Olympics. Also, there is now a new route towards Tokyo; the FEI has released that the Europe Division 1 countries can compete at three of the four remaining CSIO5* Nations Cups in the calendar. Although this has been announced late and caused more changes of plan, this will be of great help to the Brits. We previously only had St Gallen and Sopot before selections on June 22nd. Instead of taking ten partnerships to two shows we have the opportunity to now take 12 partnerships to three shows which includes La Baule. The three Nations cups are now consecutive, however with a rotation of partnerships we have to look at the positives and hopefully the horses will be fresh and peaking towards the Games.”

“The selectors will also take other CSI5* into consideration as some riders have more opportunities along with the GCT events. The team will come together during our three Nation Cups and hopefully picking itself! Getting the riders working together is essential ahead of a championship, there have been occasions where some of the best teams had fantastic team spirit to carry them through to medals. I also believe it’s important that everyone is focused and relaxed because when you are in the correct mindset, that’s when you perform at your best,” Lampard says. 

 


The team will come together during our three Nation Cups and hopefully picking itself!


 

“Hopefully, we will have all of our Olympic riders competing on home ground at Windsor ahead of going into PEQ. When the team comes home from Tokyo, we have the GCT in London – and both events will be a good boost for the sport in our country,” Lampard says. “We need to build up more international 3*and 4*shows in Great Britain to produce partnerships for the future, enabling us to be better prepared and keep up the ranking list without having to travel to Europe frequently between targeted shows,” Lampard closes off. 

 

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