I had the great fortune/ blind luck to watch the final showjumping rounds next to Lucinda Green, six-time Badminton winner and British eventing legend. Now that’s the person you want narrating the showjumping, I tell you what. Having the opportunity to listen to one of the greatest event riders of all time was present enough, but to get the chance to ask her for her reflections on the World Equestrian Games to share with the Three Days Three Ways Team was the cherry on top. I asked her, even as the horses and riders re-entered the arena to receive their medals, about her thoughts on the Games, the British Team, and how this World Equestrian Games went here on American soil. And she had some fascinating insight I’m honored to share with you.
(photo by Josh Walker)
Q. What are your impressions of the 2010 World Equestrian Games?
A. It’s been a stunning World Games. There’s been heartbreak and everything. New Zealand nearly lost [Mark] Todd when he tore his achilles heel last week running here at the Park. The Canadians had a fantastic championship. Hats off to David [O'Connor] he had so much to do with it. He has drawn together small girls, by accident I think, beautiful thoroughbreds, and molded them into this extraordinary, successful team. And they rode so well. It’s extraordinary to see what you can do with a team when you set out with whatever strategy he had. I guess he’s just rolled himself into Mark’s [Phillip's] position by that. I guess he has.
Q. Tell me about the British Team. Can you tell me some of their strengths?
A. Well that’s an old team on young horses. Thirty is the youngest, forty-nine is the oldest. The strength is probably the selection process where they get selected months beforehand, thet don’t have any of this last minute crap. They are the given the freedom to bring their horse to its peak as they would because we feel they know how to do that better than we do. We don’t give them a last-minute deadline three weeks before. Which nearly every other country does. And which we used to and won plenty doing it so who’s to say what the right way is. Talk to me in two years in London [at the Olympics] and we probably won’t have made it again because we haven’t done an Olympic gold since 1972. We win these but we can’t do the Olympics! So when the Germans fell apart yesterday I just said “Damn the Germans! They’re just warming up for London!”
Q. How do you think the World Equestrian Games cross-country course compared with the likes of Badminton and Burghley and other great cross-country courses.
A. It was a really, really, really good course. I thought when I saw it that it was going to be more difficult than it was. It wasn’t as big as I’ve seen, but I thought it was full-on mental. But it rode really, really well. They probably could have had one more difficult fence in the last quarter because there was nothing, really, from the Head of the Lake onwards. And the Head of the Lake didn’t cause any trouble that was so interesting. From really the sunken road onwards there was nothing to cause trouble.
Q. What about some of the riders you saw here this weekend. Regardless of team or country is there anyone who really stood out to you?
A. So many. There was such good riding out there. I was well impressed by it. It’s hard to name anybody individually by I think Michael Jung is in a league of his own. He’s an incredibly talented rider and he rides in all three disciplines which is a big bonus. He trains his horses cross-country day in, day out. He doesn’t just train them twice and then go to the competition. He lives in Bavaria, miles from competitions, and he has built himself a cross-country course on a very small acreage of about eighty jumps. These horses go out and they pop a few cross-country courses nearly every day. You see that when you watch him go a million miles an hour cross-country with the horse completely and utterly tuned in to what he’s doing. If there’s a lesson to be taken from him its, for God’s sake, train cross-country. It doesn’t have to be big it’s just training the brain and the connection between the person and the horse. And he does it magnificently.
Q. Are there any horses that stood out to you?
A. Well his horse is stunning. The Canadian horses, I love them, all those little thoroughbreds. I’ve always loved those. Mandiba is taking his time coming good but he’s better than he has been. The Australian horses, Happy Times. I didn’t think Andrew Nicholson’s horses was as spry as I’ve seen him but they won the bronze medal..and it doesn’t get better than that. Well, it gets two better than that! The point is he’s going really well.
Thanks again to Lucinda Green for taking the time to share with Team Three Days Three Ways her insights and reflections from the 2010 World Equestrian Games. It’s hard to believe it’s over. It went just as fast as I thought it would. Now we’ll have to start planing for London I suppose! One last note, though. Throughout my conversation with Lucinda I kept thinking someone must be wearing the loveliest perfume. Naturally I asked her and discovered she wears Chanel Allure. I’m hoping that, since I wear Chanel Chance, that this somehow makes us like sisters. Do you think? Or maybe, if I wear Allure, some of her legendary talent will rub off on me? Either way, I’ll remember watching the best riders in the world showjumping for gold at the 2010 World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park sitting next to Lucinda Green. And maybe I’ll pick up some Chanel Allure next time I’m at Saks 5th Avenue, just in case.