Phil Ghazala: Steve Guerdat reminds me of AP McCoy *H&H VIP*

Opinion

At the showjumping World Cup Final in Gothenburg, they really know how to put on a show. Equestrianism in Sweden is absolutely huge; the crowds are very knowledgeable and excited, which makes for an incredible atmosphere.

And what sport we have had. I was blown away by Steve Guerdat’s performance; the man really is a genius. I said that after he went clear in the first round of the final class that it was all over — I have been following Steve’s career for 15 years and when he smells blood, no one else has a chance.

He reminds me of AP McCoy in racing, with that killer instinct and 110% focus. Of course, everyone at that level is focused, but Steve has an extraordinarily sharp mind and you just know he is going to win it.

In fact, I wouldn’t bet against Steve becoming the first rider in history to win the World Cup for a fourth time in the future.

‘We were both in tears’

Equal accolade must go to the course-designer, Santiago Varela. He is a master, a professor of course-design, and that is one area in jumping that I feel is taken for granted.

Before the first World Cup competition, the speed class, Santi saw several top riders walking a certain inside line. He said they shouldn’t even think about trying that route, that 90% would make a mistake.

The first rider in that class, the Olympian Beat Mändli, tried the turn, and unfortunately had a fall. No one else tried it after that. It just showed Santi’s immense knowledge and ability as a designer.

I still always get quite emotional at these finals; by the end of the final class my co-commentator, Swedish Olympian Malin Baryard Johnsson, and I were both in tears. I’m elated to once again be able to witness some of the greatest equestrian sport the world has ever seen.

Ref Horse & Hound; 11 April 2019