‘When I’m not good enough, I have to accept it and look forwards’: Steve Guerdat among shock departures from Olympic individual showjumping

  • With only the top 30 riders progressing to Wednesday’s individual final for the Olympic showjumping at the Tokyo Games there were, inevitably, some shock departures after the one-round Olympic showjumping individual qualifier on Tuesday (3 August).

    Among them, was the 2012 Olympic gold medallist and current world number three Steve Guerdat of Switzerland, who just tipped one rail to finish on four faults and just outside the top 30 on the leaderboard with his great horse Venard De Cerisy, with whom he was runner-up to Ben Maher in the Rolex grand prix at Royal Windsor Horse Show last month.

    “Actually the beginning of the round felt really good – my horse was feeling super since he arrived here and he felt very good in the warm up, so I was very comfortable,” said Steve. “But maybe I underestimated a little bit the triple bar as it is normally his favourite jump. I felt at the take off that he backed off a little bit, but it was too late for me to react at that time and I couldn’t help. So then at the next jump, the distance wasn’t so nice because of the mistake. So it’s painful for the result, but we have to concentrate on the team now.”

    Steve revealed that he didn’t feel any pressure coming here as a former Olympic champion.

    “I think when you come to the Olympics, wherever you are on the ranking list, you just want to come here for a medal – we are all the same and I don’t need to listen to what’s going on around me, I just put pressure on myself. I know what my job is and I try to do it the best I can. When I’m not good enough, then I also have to accept it and hold my head up and look forwards towards the team competition and I’m going to be very motivated for that now.”

    Kent Farrington and Laura Kraut were two other leading fancies to have fallen by the wayside in the Olympic showjumping individual qualifier, meaning that USA has no representatives in the final.

    Kent said: “That didn’t go as planned. It’s a harsh reality of our sport that one rail down means you’re out. It’s all or nothing. I think it was just a cheap fault – I think any horse can have a rail down and unfortunately it was the wrong day to have one down, and it was a costly night. 

    “We’ll go back as a team, regroup, come up with a team plan and look forward to doing better.”

    Kent’s team-mate Laura Kraut produced a super round on her relatively new ride Baloutinue until picking up eight faults in the final line.

    “I was really pleased with the beginning, actually probably three quarters of the course, and I thought my horse jumped fantastic,” she said. “He was focused, he stuck right with the plan that I wanted to have, right up until it all… I wouldn’t say that it actually went wrong. I think that I got the jump in over the wall that I wanted, which led me into the four [strides], and he had an uncharacteristic touch of a back pole. I haven’t ridden him that long but he almost never does that.

    “And then I would say maybe I just lost a little bit of concentration or focus to the last and  maybe just didn’t fight as much as I should have – he barely touched that. I’m not disappointed in him at all. I’m just probably disappointed with the score.”

    The Olympic team gold medallist from Rio 2016, Penelope Leprevost of France, also finished out of the top 30 with 10 faults on Vancouver De Lanlore, while other leading riders Edwina Tops-Alexander of Australia riding Identity Vitseroel and Christian Kukuk of Germany riding Mumbai both missed the cut with just four faults.

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