Natasha Baker: Every performance really counts *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    Nobody wants to be on the first team not to win gold, although it would be more understandable if it had happened at this championship because it was such a new team. However, they did brilliantly.

    The other nations have come on so well, especially Denmark. They didn’t quite come from nowhere, but they totally smashed it with four top performances. To be able to drop a score of 71% is amazing. If it had been a 77% we’d have been screwed!

    Julie Payne was thrown in at the deep end, with such intense pressure to get a big score.

    We knew she could do it, but it’s horses and anything can happen.

    Latvia’s Rihards Snikus caught my eye — in fact, his freestyle made me cry! He so deserved his silver and his reaction was priceless — he has the biggest, loveliest smile anyway, but you’d have thought he’d just become king of the world.

    There were many riders that nobody expected to do as well as they did. While commentating, we had to decide which arena to show at a time, but it was impossible to choose.

    The only thing to bear in mind with the Danish team is that they have older horses — they won’t be Tokyo horses, so it will be interesting to see what back-ups the riders have.

    Watching’s a novelty

    This was the first year with the new tests, and the new format. I actually prefer the individual medals being decided before the team medals, and the team standings coming from just one test. From a spectator perspective, it makes it more intense and interesting, as every performance really counts. However, I don’t think the individual test should be the more difficult test if it is to be ridden first.

    Perhaps the tests could be swapped around?

    The location of the championships, right in the heart of Gothenburg, was just amazing. The only issue for me, had I been competing, was that there was no hand grazing available. I used to rely on that at competitions with JP (Cabral), and so do others whose horses go out on a daily basis at home.

    The Swedes are just wonderful people — nothing was too much trouble, and they always went above and beyond to help. This was my first time commentating and I loved it, though it was very strange not packing my white breeches. It was a novelty to watch so many people’s tests actually — you never usually get the chance when competing. However, I am excited to get back competing next year. It’s been great to have some time off to relax and regroup, but I am actively looking for a new horse, that will hopefully win medals at the World Equestrian Games in 2018. My six-year-old, Freddie [Pilegardens Fireball], is also one for the future, although he is still very green. He is mega talented, so watch out for him in 2019!

    Ref Horse & Hound; 31 August 2017