BEHIND THE SCENES WITH...
LORENZO DE LUCA, NUMBER ONE ITALIAN RIDER
Who do you think is your biggest competitor on Sunday?
"There were some great performances yesterday. I think Philipp Weishaupt is looking very good, of course Daniel Deusser was on top form last night and Luciana Diniz has been riding really well so far this year. It is going to be a very tough competition as there are a lot of good riders in the line up!"
Do you have any superstitions before you compete?
"Not really. I just stay relaxed and keep my horse nice and quiet, he is very sensitive, so I need to be calm for him. I just focus on my horse, myself and that’s it!"
What advice can you give to young riders who aspire to be in your position one day?
"My best advice would be ‘to not go too quick!’ That can cause all sorts of problems. My second piece of advice is to keep learning and growing. The Show Jumping world is such a magical place, every horse and every rider is different, so you can always expand your knowledge of the sport."
Thoughts on the course tomorrow?
"It is going to be hard! Last year I remember the course was very difficult, and now the prize money has been increased and it is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the competition is going to tougher than ever! I think the crowds are in for a treat!"
WORDS FROM THE ORGANIZERS...
MARCEL HUNZE - SHOW DIRECTOR
What changes have you made to this year’s show now that it has become one of the Majors?
"Well firstly we needed more space because the event is growing, and we wanted to enhance the facilities for the riders and spectators. We are lucky that we could build the new hall and add to the overall area by 7500 square metres. As a result, we have been able to increase the arena size and include more exercise areas. We have improved the riders’ accommodation, food and the facilities onsite to give them a VIP experience, they are our heroes, so we need to treat them very well. We have also improved the arena experience adding LED animated boards and enhanced the lighting and music to create more excitement and improve the spectator experience."
Do you feel under more pressure now the event is part of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?
"Yes, of course we are feeling the pressure more this year! The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping consisted of three of the best shows in the world, so we are very honoured be chosen as the fourth. It is hard to compare us to the outdoor shows, but Geneva is indoor and such an incredible event so we want to make sure we are on the same level. I believe this year, with the improvements we have made, everyone is happy, and we are on the right track."
You work in tennis too, how do the events differ with the contrasting sports?
"The back bone for the events is the same, it is about the sport, the promotion, visibility for the sponsors and making sure you have top facilities. In terms of the detailed differences I would say that in tennis the competitors need more physio facilities and more practice areas so that is a big focus. Of course, in tennis the athletes only have their rackets, whereas the riders have their horses which adds a whole new dimension of careful logistics."
Who do you think is going to win the Rolex Grand Prix?
"Well, I think I need to vote for a Dutchman, so I am going to say Harrie Smolders. He is world number two and was recently awarded ‘2017 Dutch Rider of the Year’ so I think he has a good chance. "
BEHIND THE STABLE DOOR WITH...
SEAN LYNCH, GROOM TO DANIEL DEUSSER, TEAM BRONZE MEDALLIST IN 2016
Who is Daniel riding in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?
"He is riding Cornet D’Amour on Sunday, a really special horse with a very big character. He is very sensitive to noise and when there’s lots of it, he’s not the easiest to control but he is one of the nicest horses to be around. All my horses are nice and normal though, so I never have a problem with them."
What is the horses routine immediately after a big competition like the Rolex Grand Prix at a Major?
"We give them a shower and some hay, so they can relax and cool down. We put the ice boots on and then follow up with the spa boots and as soon as they are dry we put a massage blanket on for 45 minutes! The massage blanket is amazing and has different programmes, so we usually put it on the programme designed for back treatment relief if they have jumped a big class. Cornet gets more spa treatments than any of us do!"
Are you and Daniel thinking about the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping?
"I am hoping that Sunday goes well and then we can really start to focus on the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. It has made show jumping more interesting for the riders and the public, and it is certainly the thing that riders talk about wanting to win the most. So, if we have success in the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday we will be planning our schedule around the next Majors for sure. "
How do you cope with the pressure of a Rolex Grand Prix? Does Daniel feel the pressure?
"I do feel the pressure a bit! I have to do my job well enough to make sure Daniel has the best chance on Sunday. We have to work together to make sure the horse is fit and is in peak condition. With Cornet D’Amour I always get quite nervous, especially when he has won a class already like he did in the Grand Prix qualifier last night. Sometimes I just stay quiet for the whole day and don’t talk to anyone!
Daniel is Mr. cool! He doesn’t let the pressure get to him, he knows what he needs to do and does the job. For me he is one of the best riders around, very relaxed and very calm."