‘We’ve become too particular – horses love jumping on grass, it’s fine’: rider shuts down critics of footing at showjumping Europeans

  • There was much talk on day one of the European Showjumping Championships at the San Siro racecourse in Milan, Italy (30 August-3 September) about the state of the footing. Several horses slipped in the grass arena in the centre of the racecourse, particularly towards the end of the first day’s action.

    Ireland’s individual contender at these championships, Denis Lynch, who jumped clear on day one, just added four faults to his score on day two riding the impressive stallion Vistogrand, who is ridden at home by Denis’s teenage daughter. They currently sit top 10 in the individual standings at this early stage of the second qualifying competition for individuals and final teams at the European Showjumping Championships with a coefficient total of 6.70.

    Denis put today’s fault down to rider error.

    “I’m obviously disappointed in my riding there. Like I said yesterday, he’s got an awful lot of blood and temperament and maybe six months ago I had to ride for back rails a bit more, whereas now I can really sit quiet,” said Denis. “But he gave a fantastic jump over the wall and then he does get aggressive and really silly like that sometimes, he is only 10.

    “That’s where my experience has to come in to just try and switch him off again. But I was trying to do the front rail and the back rail and everything else – there was slightly too much determination on my part! But I think he finished up very well – he relaxed. That last line would have been a difficult line for him even four months ago, so he did that well. I’m very proud of him again.”

    Describing today’s much more technical track set by Uliano Vezzani, which weaves round the arena with dog legs and strings of related distances for riders to navigate, Denis said: “It’s a very fair track, a good track.

    “I’m sure we’re going to expect more this week. He’s done it in a way that for a short-striding horse or a big-striding horse, it’ll fit in. It’s the accuracy of the rider that’s being questioned and obviously there’s the pressure of the teams.”

    European Showjumping Championships: “20 years ago, this was great ground”

    Denis continued: “It’s a decent 1.60m and the ground in there is good, it’s fine. But again, like yesterday, I’m lucky that I’m early to go. We have become incredibly particular over the ground over the past decade because we ride a lot more on sand now, whereas I find this ground to be fine.

    “You know, 20 years ago, this was great ground and horses love jumping on grass. It is a little soft for sure, so maybe it doesn’t suit every horse but it suits a lot of horses and that’s what we knew before we got here. So you have to put up with that. I think it’s fine – they’ve done the best they can.”

    Horse & Hound has a team of reporters covering all the European showjumping action. To keep reading on our website after five articles, readers will need to buy a subscription. Visit horseandhound.co.uk/join to buy a Horse & Hound website unlimited subscription or, for great value, visit magazinesdirect.com for a combined magazine and website subscription. If you are already a magazine subscriber, the cost to upgrade your subscription to include full website access is minimal – call 0330 333 1113 to find out more.

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