Steve Guerdat’s victory in the Longines FEI World Cup Jumping Final bring the number of Swiss wins in the 38-year history of the FEI World Cup Jumping series to four.
Guerdat, 33, produced two faultless rounds on Monday night with Corbinian in the Scandinavium Arena in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Here’s what the leading riders and officials had to say after the weekend.
It’s really special. I wasn’t really thinking I would stand here in front of you as the Final winner today. I have a really strong team supporting me, people who get up early every morning and work really hard, so I want to thank my whole team, it’s really a team victory. We all have the same goal. It’s me who’s standing here in front of you, but there are many people who should be standing here with me. It’s a team victory more than ever I think.”
“It was important to me to ride better than last year – I won, but that was the only reason to be happy that day! I didn’t ride very well and that stays always in your head.”
[On Corbinian] “I didn’t want to put too much pressure on him, I wasn’t sure how he was going to react over the championship because he doesn’t have that much experience. But he felt very good already when I rode him before the class and powerful again, after a day off yesterday. Today I thought he was really fighting with me which is not always the case. Sometimes it’s more that we are not fighting against each other but that we are trying to look for each other, and its just not that smooth. But today…it felt that the horse was really with me and fighting with me, and that gives you confidence along the course.”
[When asked when he knew his horse was ready for a big event such as this weekend] “I didn’t know how he was going to be. I know he is a very talented horse, very powerful, actually a kind of championship horse, but when you haven’t been there you don’t know how they are going to be. He did feel a bit tired after his jump-off on Saturday, but already yesterday he again felt really fresh and relaxed and today when I went into the second round he felt as good if not better than in the first round. that doesn’t mean you’re going to jump clear, but it gives you the confidence to concentrate on the main things.”
[When asked when he felt his relationship with his horse was beginning to gel] “To be honest just the last show in ‘s-Hertogenbosch I had a really good feeling over three days. That was the first time. I said after London at the World Cup in December I want to plan this horse for the Final, and then I took him three weeks in Spain to just play around with small classes. I tried a few bits, I tried to change a little big my riding, and after that I thought he really needs to do one bigger show before the Final so we went to ‘s-Hertogenbosch and I jumped him three days in a row and he felt really really good for three days, and that really gave me confidence coming into this final”.
Harrie Smolders (2nd)
I was very thrilled because this was his (Emerald’s) first championship and he convinced me in every way this week. He’s a very attractive horse and he loves the atmosphere here. I must say it was great sport and super exposure of how our sport should be, the audience, the course designing, everything was very good publicity for our sport. Also to have this kind of money from Longines is just as it should be.”
[When asked if he believed before this weekend’s event that his stallion, Emerald, would go the distance] “Like Steve I didn’t know the answer, my horse always uses a lot of energy at every jump, even at small fences he tries very hard and it’s my job to make it as easy as possible for him, don’t over-ask too many things, but he convinced me really well today over the two rounds and I think his last round was even better than the first!”
Daniel Deusser (3rd)
I made a stupid mistake on the second day and that’s why I’m third, but the sport has been really strong this weekend. When I walked the second-round course I was quite impressed, it was big! I saw Steve in the warm-up and we actually laughed and went “waaahhhhh!”. I said to him if we are still on the podium in the top three after the second round I’m happy with that, and he laughed and said ‘me too!”. In the end that’s how it finished and for me that’s a reason to be happy today!”
Callan Solem (7th)
[Solem and VDL Wizard were the top-placed US combination] “He [VDL Wizard] should have been double-clear, but I was a bit slow getting to the first fence. It was totally my fault.
“But even with the first fence down, we kept fighting, which I think is so important. And then he came back in round two and was perfect. He is the best.”
John Madden, FEI First Vice-President and Chairman Jumping Committee:
It takes so much to put a an event like this together, it’s all based around Longines, our partner at the FEI who are so supportive of the World Cup Final, and it brings us everything we want, the true meaning of our sport, the unity of the horse and rider and the passion. Think of everything that goes into these riders to put this performance on. And then think of the backstage work from FEI to the Organising Committee to Gotevents and the unbelievable sponsor, the Swedish Federation and Gothenburg itself being such a huge part of it. It takes these great athletes and these great horses to put on a great show. We have to thank all the people involved.”
“After walking each course you could see it was going to be a fair, difficult test, and after walking the second round today I said to Santi (course designer) that I’m absolutely sure whoever wins will be the correct winner. Because this was an excellently tested championship. Every aspect was tested and I think even the second and third-placed riders can say that they weren’t cheated in any way. They had a chance to win, but Steve won fair and square over a fantastically complete test.”
Santiago Varela Ullastres (course designer): “Neither of the rounds was easy. I want to congratulate these three guys (Guerdat, Smolders and Deusser) they took all the pressure really well. And I’d like to thank one person who normally doesn’t appear at press conferences, the Technical Delegate Louis Konickx who did a very good job.”
Lotta Nibbel (Gothenburg Horse Show Organising Committee): “We had huge audiences and four sold-out shows this year – a total of 89,020 people watching and experiencing it together. It’s been fantastic!”
Additional reporting: Leah Oliveto