Michael Whitaker: The format is cut-throat *H&H Plus*


  • The format of the Global Champions League (GCL) team final, with three riders in a team and all scores counting, proved pretty cut-throat.

    My team, the Doha Falcons, paid the price with elimination when I had a fall in Thursday’s quarter finals, but other teams experienced similar changes in fortunes during the tournament. Miami Celtics were leading after round one, but in the semi-finals one of their riders had three down and, even though two of their riders jumped clear, they lost their chances and it’s a real shame to see that happen. It means you just can’t afford to jump a bad round.


    The format does work well in an indoor competition like this and it certainly makes it exciting for the crowd, who can easily follow what’s going on. But I don’t think it’s such a good idea for the Olympics where we could very well see the same sort of drama — it would be sad for teams to go all the way to Tokyo, only for one horse or rider to have a slightly off day and that’s it, game over for the team.

    ‘Hats off to the organisers’

    Once again, the Prague Playoffs was a fantastic show. It was very well organised and the whole event worked really well. The only problem was the footing, which was just too soft on the first couple of days. I don’t know why, or what had gone wrong with it, because normally shows like this have it spot on. But hats off to the organisers, who worked really hard to sort it out and by Saturday it looked much better.

    I’ve tried to make excuses, but I don’t think the going had anything to do with my mare For Fun’s stop at the Czech flag planks on Thursday — she stopped at the same fence last year, too. Sometimes horses just take a total dislike to a fence and she’s chosen this one — she hasn’t stopped at anything else in between.

    I was so surprised at her reaction to it last year that I painted a fence just like it at home and jumped it a few times fine before we came. But she just took against it again in the class and there’s nothing you can do when that happens. My ribs were very sore from the landing and I had hoped to jump my other horse Flinstering, who I really think a lot of, but it was just too painful to ride so I ended up coming home early.

    You can see Ben Maher is riding full of confidence right now and Explosion W is just flying. Being the favourite brings a lot of pressure and makes it even harder to keep up your form, so his win in the super grand prix was a great achievement.

    Ref Horse & Hound; 28 November 2019