‘All you have to do is breathe on them’: riders reflect on Santiago Varela’s ‘tough’ Olympic showjumping team final course

  • Olympic showjumping course designer Santiago Varela provided one last challenge for the riders in the team final at the Tokyo Games.

    First to jump for the United States, Laura Kraut and Baloutine, produced the first clear, and this was followed by Sweden’s first rider Henrick von Eckermann and King Edward.

    Many were caught out by the time allowance of 82 seconds, with technical lines giving riders the option to push or shorten in the distances. Three combination fences – a two-stride double at fence six, a one-stride treble at six, and a further one-stride double at fence 12 – demanded accuracy and caused the most problems on course.

    French rider Simon Delestre had a clear jumping round but picked up one time-penalty. He described the course as “delicate” and “difficult to jump”.

    “The course designer has produced an amazing job all week. [Today] it’s a bit higher, with some more difficult distances, and three combinations,” he said.

    Laura Kraut agreed the Olympic team showjumping course was a step up from the qualifier.

    “The jumps were bigger and the distances were hard,” she said. “It’s the stamina [you need]; we had the two doubles and the triple. We had the water, several planks – all you have to do is breathe on them and the last vertical is gigantic!

    “Santiago is an amazing course builder, he knew he had the 10 best teams and he needed to build [for them].”

    Fellow team US rider and Olympic debutante Jessica Springsteen, who picked up four-faults with Don Juan Van De Donkhoeve, said the course was “super technical”.

    “There were a lot of half strides where you were able to do one less or one more,” she said. “It was a great course.”

    German rider Maurice Tebbel who picked up four-faults on Don Diarado said it was a “tough course”.

    “Everything came really quick. I tried to be in the time today and start quicker because at the end you can’t make up the time,” he said.

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