Nick Skelton: WEG showjumping — you can’t leave your best at home *H&H VIP*

  • Opinion

    I’ve been riding at championships for 40 years and Alan Wade’s course-building in Tryon was the best I’ve ever seen. There were 127 competitors and no disasters — he did an unbelievable job.

    His track for the individual final was very difficult but completely fair — it required carefulness, needed good riding and the time was tight. Alan certainly got the right result because DSP Alice was the only horse to go through the week without a fence down.

    Fair play to Simone Blum, she’s only the second female rider to win the world title (after Gail Greenough in 1986) and deserves to be champion.

    We heard a lot of bad things about the venue beforehand, but the stabling and arena were excellent; the brand new surface made for perfect footing and it all made for a fantastic competition experience. But behind the scenes the place was like a building site with trucks and diggers, wires and dirt everywhere — it just wasn’t finished. And, despite the intense heat and humidity, there was no shade for riders.

    A wake-up call

    The team competition was fantastic, producing a great result for the Americans on home soil. I was very proud of what my partner, Laura Kraut, did and the whole team deserved to win.

    It also showed that having four riders on a team is absolutely the right format for a championship, so I hope it was a wake-up call to the FEI to the fact that having just three riders, as they propose should be the case at the 2020 Olympics, simply won’t work.

    Look what happened to the Swiss team — if the same happened in Tokyo with Janika Sprunger being eliminated, the team would be heading home.

    The British did the best they could with the team that were available to select from. William Funnell’s horse jumped well but tired in the heat, and William Whitaker rode brilliantly but Utamaro’s championship days may be behind him. William’s a great talent so I hope he finds another top horse soon.

    I was so proud of Amanda Derbyshire getting through to Sunday’s individual final — she’s a real rider for the future — and Holly Smith made a few little mistakes, but that’s natural for a first championship. Hearts Destiny is definitely a championship horse, so it will have done them good to come here and she’ll be better for it.

    Up against it

    This quartet tried so hard, with such great team spirit, progressing to the second round, but they were always up against it — at the end of the day, you simply can’t leave your best riders at home.

    So it’s a pity that our top riders didn’t want to come, because maybe that would have made the difference to us earning Olympic qualification. And you can be sure of one thing — if Great Britain does qualify for the Olympics next year, they’ll be the first to put their hands up wanting to go. Well, they need to have supported the team and helped them qualify.

    I totally understand that money talks, but I’ve won a lot of money in my career and yet my greatest day and proudest moment was winning a gold medal for my country.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 27 September 2018