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“The podium is only the last little part; the work is underneath”

Monday, 03 April 2017
2017 Longines FEI World Cup Final

Photo (c) Haide Westring for World of Showjumping. The podium at the Longines FEI World Cup Final in Omaha: McLain Ward, Romain Duguet and Henrik von Eckermann. Photo (c) Haide Westring for World of Showjumping.

McLain Ward (USA), Romain Duguet (SUI) and Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) met the press after stepping down from the podium at Sunday's Longines FEI World Cup Final in Omaha, and here is what they had to say: 

World Cup Champion McLain Ward on how he felt going into each of the two last rounds of the Final:

“I’ve been doing this for a long time now, 25 years jumping at international Grand Prix level. I have been very close so many times, but messed it up some way or another. I am so grateful not only for the horses that I have had over the years, but for the people behind me – a guy like Lee (McKeever) has been with me 29 years. So, trying to pull one off for them was very, very important for me.”

“I felt good, I liked the course – there were quite a few big jumps but no tricks. That is what I really appreciate about Alan (Wade). I was pretty mellow all day, tried to ride the best I could – I have experience from these situations, just took a breath, went to my horse and had a little luck and it came off. I owe a lot of people thanks for this.”


On the question on whether the national anthem ever sounded so good, McLain replied quickly:

“No, for sure!”


Looking back and then towards this day, Ward commented:

“One thing about sports is no matter what our challenges are we have to look forwards and move on. I was lucky enough to have a great horse in Sapphire, lucky enough to have another great horse in HH Azur. I have been a fighter, a digger and a grinder my whole career. I tried never to give up, tried to keep working at it – my team works at it and today is just a culmination of a lot of people’s hard work during a long career.”


On the history of HH Azur:  

“That is a very long story. I tried her once as a very young horse, and did not buy her. Luckily François Mathy, who was my father’s partner and has been my partner and my mentor for many years, did buy her. So I got a second shot a few years later and was very lucky, a lot of people started to hear bout the horse and asked for her (…). Sometimes things are meant to be, and I remember the first time I showed her in Wellington – just a small class – and it was something different. As I said the other night; two men – who are two of the most important figures in my life, François Mathy and Hunter Harrison, in addition to my father – own her and that makes it extra special. I am very, very grateful for that.”


On what went through his mind while on the top of the podium hearing the national anthem, Ward said:

“I was taking a moment to think about all the different people that helped me; starting with my parents, all the different owners, the people who have influenced me – my family. You know, I grew up in this business so I was lucky to be exposed to so many people that were willing to help me in small ways and large – so I just took a moment to reflect on that. My father used to say ‘The podium is only the last little part; the work is underneath’.”


McLain Ward on the fact that there were three mares on the podium:

“I have had a great luck with mares, I think all three of us are soft and light riders so that probably suits a sensitive mare.”


Vice-Champion Romain Duguet on choosing his mare Twentytwo des Biches for the Final instead of Querida du Treho:

“Querida was a bit injured before Zürich, but anyhow I planned to ride Twentytwo there so that if something happened with Querida I could ride Twentytwo in the Final. Then Querida could actually go here – but with little preparation – and I did not want to make the same fault like last year in Gothenburg so I decided to go with Twentytwo as she jumped very good at her last shows.”

“The feeling is great, and I am really happy. Twentytwo is really young, only 10-years-old and she started to jump the Grand Prix classes one year ago. She is a horse that always gives her best. She did a super job, and I am really proud of her – she is fantastic.”

"Twentytwo des Biches also has a really nice story. It is a friend of mine that bred her, and I bought half when she was five and she came to me at the end of the year when she was six.”


Clearing up Twentytwo des Biches' name, Duguet made the press laugh:

“In French it translates to 'Twentytwo from Bambi'. The name is related to Haras des Biches, where she comes from – it has nothing to do with the swear word… In France it is ok, nobody thinks about it!”


Henrik von Eckermann commented on his partner Mary Lou:

“When it was clear that I would leave Ludger (Beerbaum) and start my own business we were three months before the 1st of September.  Then I would go to Mr. Karl Schneider’s place. One month before I left, Karl – who is a dealer and normally sells the horses – had this horse and he said ‘I have this horse, just come and try it and if you like it I will keep it here for you until you come’. I tried the horse, and after five jumps I said ‘Please Karl, keep this horse until I come, this is something special’. So, in that way I was quite right, I always liked the horse. When I started with her she jumped two-star 1.45m classes so for this level here you can see how talented a horse she is.

If I ride good, the horse will not make any mistakes. I am very happy, for me it was winning the third place today. I started as no. six on the standings and in the end, even though I was angry with my fault two days ago, I would never have been faster than McLain had I ended up in a jump-off so I am really happy with my third place and the horse really deserved that.”


Text © World of Showjumping / Picture © Haide Westring for World of Showjumping

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