French rider Kevin Staut is one of 184 showjumpers gearing up for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games next week. H&H catches up with the Rolex Testimonee to find out how preparations are going, how he rates his chances on home soil, and which horses he’d like to see in the final four.
The showjumping competition starts on Tuesday (2 September). How are preparations going?
We had a meeting on Monday for the five riders from the French team [myself, Penelope Leprevost, Jerome Hurel, Simon Delestre and Patrice Delaveau] and now we’re training for four days before we leave at the end of the week to go to Caen. On Sunday we have the vet check and the warm-up starts on Monday. So at the moment everything is well. I had my last show with my WEG horse Reveur De Hurtebise HDC, two weeks ago in Spain and the horse jumped great. Now we are focussed on the final preparations.
Tell us about the horse you ride, the 13-year-old gelding Reveur De Hurtebise HDC
I’ve never jumped any championships with Reveur, but it was my plan for the last 12 months that I would ride Reveur at WEG. I have jumped him at the shows I wanted to in order to prepare him as well as possible. I don’t think I have a big chance for individual medals, but Reveur is fit and ready to help the French team to get a medal.
The French team has been plagued with horse injuries in the run-up to WEG, how do you rate your chances?
The plan for Penelope was to ride Dame Blanche, but she had a small injury two months ago so instead she had to prepare Flora De Mariposa. She is a really super For Pleasure mare, but she’s only nine so she doesn’t have the experience of championships. But she’s improved a lot this year, jumping three Nations Cups and Penelope had no hesitation taking her in the team. Aymeric De Ponnat’s horse Armitages Boy was jumping really well at the start of the season, but was slightly hurt after La Baule — nothing special, but he was out for one month and when he started again the horse was still not right. Aymeric did not think it was a physical problem, but the horse was not back jumping clear until his last show, so it’s a pity for the French team but Armitages Boy was not ready for WEG. So that’s why Simon Delestre’s horse Qlassic Bois Margot and Jerome Hurel’s Quartz Rouge are now part of the team. Qlassic has jumped a lot this year — maybe not many clears if we want to be critical of something — but it’s not a problem because it’s a blood horse and the horse is scopey enough for a championship. Like Penelope’s horse, Jerome’s is green but he is a top rider and really motivated. So we’re going to Caen not with a really strong team, but with riders who are really motivated because it’s in France.
Who do you think will win medals in Normandy?
The United States are really strong at the moment. Them and Germany are my favourites. But we could have a surprise and I hope that France will be a good surprise. Maybe we don’t have a chance for gold, but maybe for one of the individual medals.
Individually, Scott Brash is in really fantastic form and he has a big chance, even if Hello Sanctos has jumped a lot this season. Ben Maher as well — he’s managed Cella really well, keeping the mare in competition but not pushing too much. And Marcus Ehning has a big chance. He won’t be the fastest on the first day [speed round] and this was the problem for him in the World Cup final, but the world championship it’s completely different — a much longer week — so the speed class will not have as big an impact.
If you were in the top four final, what three horses would be your dream rides?
The horse I’d really like to ride is Steve Guerdat’s Nino Des Buissonnets. He’s a French horse, very clever, careful and an amazing jumper. Otherwise, I’d like to ride Ben Maher’s Cella — she’s completely different, a blood mare and I like this type of horse. She’s a bit like [my mare] Silvana — you don’t have to worry too much about their attitude, just let them go and try to give them confidence. And the third one I’d like to ride is Rolf Goran Bengtsson’s Casall Ask. I’ve appreciated this horse for many years and although he’s 15 now, he’s still jumping amazing — round with good tension — and it would be great to have a feeling with a horse like this.