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Phil Ghazala: Day dreaming in lockdown

Saturday, 25 April 2020
When at home...


FEITV commentator Phil Ghazala is a familar face and voice for everyone in the showjumping world, and today he kindly guests the WoSJ blog with some much needed day dreaming. 



"My back pocket vibrates once more, and another Whats App joke arrives, although I've received the same joke 4 times in the past two weeks I still laugh, you need to keep a sense of humour in such horrible times.

Living in the UK on the edge of Exmoor National Park, about 90 minutes south of Bristol, has always been beautiful and enjoyable - now being shackled to the rolling hills of West Somerset where other human beings are a scarce sighting it seems a privilege.

Actually one gets a bit protective, we do see a few more humans wandering about undertaking their daily exercise (not before time for some of them) as advised by the UK Government - I find myself saying ‘why don’t they bugger off’.

The contrast of beautiful unspoilt British countryside to the razamataz of Las Vegas could not be more different - however I always enjoy a 'city fix’ every now and then and Las Vegas offers a lot more than most in terms of a crazy world of a fast moving life with everyone seemingly running around with their eyes wide open and pockets empty.

I have daydreamed about Marcus Ehning and Steve Guerdat being the last two to go into the final jump-off in the Thomas and Mack Stadium knowing that one of these two great athletes could make history by being the first to win 4 Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Finals - the atmosphere would have been incredible - I have goose bumps (good luck with that translation ) just writing about it. These two gentleman wouldn't have had it easy, actually bloody tough - Pieter Devos with a win and 3 thirds in the Western European League (WEL) qualifiers could have ruined their party, as could the steely Dennis Lynch or Maikel van Der Vleuten with the rooky Beauville to name just a couple more of several possible winners - the dangers too for Marcus and Steve didn’t just come from European based riders of course - whilst there was a dearth of ladies in the top 18 of the WEL, it was a different story from across the pond - with Beezie Madden (victorious in 2013 and 18) and Laura Kraut (5th in Vegas in 2003, the scene of Marcus’s first victory) on the qualified list only Elvis could have produced a better atmosphere.

The possible historical importance of these finals was not just a focus for the sport of Jumping, the Dressage World were waiting for one of the most anticipated FEI World Cup Finals to be staged. Isabell Werth, who should be better known in Germany than Angela Merkel,  was poised to take her 3 time consecutive winner Weihgold Old (bearing in mind Isabell’s garage is full of Formula 1 stars) bidding to become the first dressage rider to take gold at 4 consecutive FEI World Cup Finals. As I wasn’t covering the Dressage I would have relished the opportunity to be a spectator for the climax of the Freestyle; I would not have bothered to watch the Grand Prix, once you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all - I’m only joking! There have been 34 Dressage World Cup Finals and between Anky van Grunsven and Isabell Werth they have taken the gold 14 times and podiumed on 23 occasions - the William’s sisters should be grateful these ladies didn’t take up tennis!

So we can only continue to dream until we get back on the road - I look forward to a bumper celebration in Barcelona at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final, the first week of October (hopefully), where the sun normally shines and a bottle of wine costs the same as a single glass in Scandinavia - although I suspect that if the tremendously likeable Jimmy Gulliksen had taken Gold in Las Vegas wine would have continued to flow freely in October for the start of the new World Cup Jumping season in Oslo. My very best wishes to everyone and to your families and friends and of course to the real stars that are the reason that so many of us have met, the horses; stay safe, see you soon from Phil Ghazala, FEITV."

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