“So far, so good. I thought his trot work was really good, he was a little tight in his back in the canter work. He didn’t quite get the marks we were hoping for but I was pleased with him.”
You’ve walked the course, riders are saying it’s the toughest in years, but they tend to always say that after their course walk…
“The cross country is pretty strong. It starts out early being tough, and carries it on pretty consistently. There’s not a lot of fences to give you a bit of a break, but I’m hoping it is going to go okay.”
In today’s Horse & Hound, you and Andrew Hoy were quite critical of the bullfinch coming out of the water, Andrew said he didn’t think he’d fronted a bullfinch since the year 2000…
“They’ve actually trimmed the fence up a bit now. It’s a fence that we don’t see any more, it’s a bit old fashioned and there are going to be plenty of horses that will try and jump it… coming out of the water, I don’t know if it is really necessary. They seem to have thinned it out a lot, and so I am hoping it will jump a lot better than it would have if they left it like it was.
It’s not just old fashioned, it’s stupid – we want horses that are clean and careful, not horses that are ready to bash their way through anything in front of them…
“That’s right, the sport has changed and we want horses to be careful and more agile. In the past our horses have not been as careful but now we want horses that are careful and jump over things, it’s a throw back to the past for a horse to have to push through something. We don’t really want to teach our horses to bash through fences again.”
Confident your guy can handle it?
“I think so, there’s nothing on the course that he is not going to understand, I’ve just got to give him as good a ride as I can. If I do that, he should be good. It’s certainly a lot of questions and a lot of fences sort of back-to-back. We’ve just to make sure that they stay as mentally fresh as best we can, because there are a lot of fences that are up and down, while the course is quite flat, more than half of the fences you either go up or down to them, there’s not many fences that are actually on the flat.”
What’s the take home, are there aspects of the Badminton track that you’d like to see at Adelaide?
“That’s an interesting one, but not really. I think there are enough fences that we see at home that hopefully prepare us for this. There are certainly fences and trends that are coming from Europe that we need to see more at home. I don’t think there’s anything in particular here that we need to take home, nothing that is ground-breaking, this is just consistently tough. A lot of big fences, on angles…”
Tough and technical, or tough tough?
“Just tough, for sure technical to a degree but mainly a lot of fences where you have to be very brave and your are forced to take a fairly strong angle, even the fences in-between ask questions. It’s going to be interesting but I am hopeful and confident that if I ride well, things should go okay.”
Is the Badminton atmosphere getting to you?
“It is an amazing event, someone asked me the other day, what was it like riding into the arena at Badminton but I’m experienced enough to know that I’ve still got to do a job, which is to concentrate on each phase as it comes. Sure it’s a big atmosphere, but hopefully I can concentrate on the job I have to do.”