Rolex Grand Slam – CHI Geneva

 

Swiss

 

precision

 

It was a home win for Steve Guerdat in the final leg of the Rolex Grand Slam  – and not without a great deal of pressure.

 

By Camilla Alfthan

 

To the Genevan born, the jump off with altogether 10 riders, was an excrutiating affair as he had to sit back and watch while the others tried to improve on his clear round as one of the first in the ring.

Aboard his 12-year old selle francais, Nino de Bussonnets, Steve Guerdat beat runner up, Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos to complete the task and take home the generous, 198,000 CHF bounty.

 

“It is the only time things went according to the plan. I was confident before the first round, because it was big and difficult but suited my horse well.

I thought I could add a few strides and still make the time, and the way he jumped made me very comfortable.

But at the jump off it was different, it didn’t suit me as well with a very long canter. Especially in the double after a long gallop he gets a little flat and he likes to jump to big in the combination and I was afraid of that and lost time. I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep the first place.

I knew I had guys behind me with really fast horses who would take more risks. So it was a very, very long wait,” said a relieved Guerdat following his victory which was the perfect ending of the packed four day event that welcomed some 40,000 spectators.
“I knew I had guys behind me with really fast horses who would take more risks. So it was a very, very long wait.”

 

Trained by two Olympians;  his father, Philippe Guerdat and Beat Mändli, pressure is nothing new to the 31-year old.

Though parts of the media had expected more of the duo after their bronze medal at the London Olympics, Guerdat was more than pleased with Nino de Bussonnet’s performance.

 

“After the Games, my horse did 11 shows; three smaller ones in Switzerland, three World Cups where he came second in Helsinki and Oslo, a fifth in Aachen, now he won here, so I’m  very happy. It’s been an amazing year with him.

I feel very priviledged to have an extraordinary horse, and extraordinary team and an extraordinary audience.”

 

“The pressure isn’t always a pleasant thing. To sleep it’s OK, but all day long I’ve had a knot in my stomach and that is not what I wish to have every weekend. I managed to get rid of it before the class –  as soon as I’m on the horse it goes away,” said Guerdat who was also pleased with the event, itself.

 

“The course was fantastic, not just because I won. We saw some great sport in every single class. I think the course builder made a great job – they didn’t kill any horses; they were all jumping with happiness and that’s what we all want.

I really hope that many shows will use this course builder in the future because I think he’s the best,” said Guerdat of the Swiss course builder, Gérard Lachat.

 

 

For Scott Brash the Geneva meeting was a first timer.

 

“Everything has gone very well; the ring is huge and it’s all very impressive;” said the world’s number one after a close second at 43,58 seconds compared to Guerdat’s winning time of 43, 26.

 

“It’s a fantastic crowd and fantastic for Steve and them that he won. I thought I had him; but it was my own fault. I probably could have had him and I should have been faster on the last obstacle,” said Brash who’m Guerdat described as a “guy who does not feel any pressure”.

 

“At this level I have four horses,” Brash continued, “I try to split them up and look after them. I had two last week in Paris (Bon Ami and Ursula) and two here in Geneva (Hello Sanctos and Hello Annie); I’m very lucky to have great horses and to be able to change them around.

There’s always a certain degree of pressure on every rider, you just have to learn to live with it and ride with it. It can bring out the best in you.”

 

 

 

 

RIDERS’ FAVORITE

 

In November, the Concours Hippique International (CHI) of Geneva was voted the Best Indoor Competition by the classic equestrian yearbook, Année Hippique – for the seventh time!

Created in 1926, the CHI Geneva is one of the world’s most prestigious equestrian competitions held in huge arena of the Palexpo –the world’s biggest indoor arena at 5,200 square meters.

As the final leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping, Geneva ends the season after the two previous rounds in Spruce Meadows, Canada and Aachen, Germany.

It is also the scene of the Top 10 Rolex IJRC, which is held every two years alternating with the 2013 Champions’ Challenge.

 

 

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