Comment from the riders and their connections after the second qualifier of the FEI European Jumping Championships in Aachen. France’s Penelope Leprevost remains in the lead, with France leading the team competition ahead of The Netherlands and Germany.
Michael Whitaker GBR: (Talking about the course) “you couldn’t get it wrong, you had to ride every fence, think about the lines, even the last fence, the problems it caused. You had to get it all right. Joe was brilliant and Ben was brilliant – what the mare (Maher’s Diva) did was absolutely nothing to do with Ben. She just took it in her own hands to take off and Ben did unbelievable to stay on! He deserves a medal actually!
“I wasn’t nervous, but I did feel the pressure before my ride. And that is the same for all of the riders here.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence now in my horse, I didn’t know what to expect, he’s never been in this ring, and he’s never been under that kind of pressure so I didn’t know how he would react and he actually rose to the occasion.
“I said when I came out; I’ve never felt pressure like it. There’s extra pressure to qualify for the Olympics, if I’d gone in and not had a good round that would have been it – now we’re still fighting for tomorrow, even for a medal. You couldn’t get it [the course] wrong, you had to ride every fence and think about all the lines and even the last fence.
“We actually only came here to qualify for the Olympic Games in Rio. But now we are on course to win a medal.”
Ludger Beerbaum GER: “Today was the team competition, and that’s what counts. I’m really pleased with her (Chiara) performance, it was harmonious, a really nice easy-going round.
“We need another good round, otherwise we are going down the ladder.
“I am really pleased with my horse and remain hungry for success, but there is still a long way to go.”
Penelope Leprevost FRA: “My mare was just a dream today – she was so easy to ride, scopey, careful, everything was perfect for me!
“Yes we are in the lead now, but we have one more difficult day tomorrow.”
Philippe Guerdat, French Chef d’Equipe: “It is not time for euphoria yet!
“I said from the very beginning that four or five teams will be battling it out for the title and it was obvious that we will be among them.
“I often competed myself here with the team in the Nations’ Cup in the past. I have already seen a lot of Nations’ Cup courses that were more difficult than today’s. But tomorrow it will no double be more difficult and the time will also play a role.”
Otto Becker, German national trainer: “Everyone put in a good round. Fibonacci jumped brilliantly and made an annoying mistake at the water. And Christian just slightly brushed a pole. It was a shame.”
Jessica Sprunger SUI– “We knew it was like our final day today, otherwise the championship was over for us, so we did the best we could. We made three clear rounds and now we have to see how it is at the end of the day. After yesterday everyone was disappointed because the horses are in good shape, but yesterday not even one pair could bring a top result home. So it was difficult after yesterday, but we tried to put that aside and just focus on jumping clear, whatever it would take, we were fighting. I was very nervous – normally I’m nervous walking the course or before I go in, but today I was very nervous riding. We have fought our way back, and we won’t give up until the end!”
Ben Maher GBR: “I don’t really know what happened to be honest, she should have fit two strides in and she picked up on one. That oxer looked pretty wide there on one stride! It felt perfect the whole round, the whole round felt pretty easy, I purposefully took a bit longer to the last double just so I could create a bit of pressure for her and I put pressure on her jumping the first oxer just to make sure and she just picked up on that one stride, there’s nothing else to really say. That’s just the way it goes.”
Joe Clee GBR: “It’s been fantastic, my horse has been jumping great – even a bit too good, he settled down about after fence 4. It was a real shame for Ben, he didn’t deserve that, he jumped a fantastic round, these things happen in the sport sometimes. [Just taking] Each day as it comes; with success here comes the Olympic qualification, so just one job at a time, I’ll start to enjoy it after Sunday’s been and gone.
“My horse has been jumping great – I was more relaxed today than yesterday, but the team is taking each day as it comes and with success here comes Olympic qualification but one job at a time. This is the most amazing show in the world and I am really enjoying being here with the public. It’s a bonus that everything is going so well but we have a job to do and we have to keep on thinking about the job in hand.”
Jeroen Dubbeldam NED: “I didn’t have to do too much today because my horse did everything for me. Normally in a triple combination on two strides he comes out too fast, but he didn’t. The only thing I have to do now is not get too easy for tomorrow, I have to keep sharp.
“We had hoped to climb up the rankings today.”But I didn’t think we’d jump up from 5th place into 2nd.”
Dirk Demeersman, Belgian national coach: “Our aim was to qualify for Rio here in Aachen. But we haven’t succeeded in doing so.”