Friday, August 24, 2012

WEC PRE-RIDE SOUNDBITES: 24 August 2012

LONGINES WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012

Emmett Ross – Chef D’Equipe USA
“I think we have some good horses but the competition is going to be very tough, to earn an individual medal it will be very hard, we hope to be in apposition to get a team medal.
“We have the right people and the right team and it requires a lot of strategy but we’re confident.
“We have many experience horses and many have done 100 milers, some have won the Tevis Cup.
“We’re anxious about the vetting as our horses haven’t come yet! But they have all been checked by our team vet so we are confident we should be fine to pass this section of the race.
“There is usually a 40% completion rate across the board and it is generally spread across all of the teams but we are hoping for better than that.”

UAE - Mohammed Essa Al Adhab, Deputy General Manager, Dubai Equestrian Club
“The UAE is very happy to be involved in this championship on a number of levels and organisation and we wish all the athletes and teams a good result. The UAE team is one of the strongest at this event and we hope that we can achieve our target.”

USA - Carol Giles, US team selector
“We’re really excited about the race tomorrow. I think we have an outstanding team and we’ve set ourselves up to do really well.
“I have seen some of the course and I think it is of course a little more challenging than prior world championships, definitely more technical. It is going to require more turns and gate changes. Riders with good balance with their horse will have an advantage.
“We do have some concerns about the weather and keeping the horses warm if it does get wet and cold. Since the riders have been here they’ve not managed to see any muddy conditions, so we’ll have to see how we cope if it does get wet. It is a really great venue and we are really honoured to be here. Everyone has been very helpful and welcoming and we had a great view of the fireworks last night at the opening ceremony.”

South Africa - Eoné Willemse, 24, rider with My Wild Irish Gold
“I’m very excited about tomorrow. It’s a nice venue and the trail is well marked, it has some interesting turns to it too.
“From what I have seen of the course it seems soft and nicely footed, although tricky in some parts. The wildlife, venue and scenery are lovely. I am really aiming for a good finish, so we’ll see how the day shakes out.
“If it does rain tomorrow, we’ll have to just pay attention to the horse and make sure he is well balanced and doesn’t slip and slide.
“The opening ceremony was wonderful. The fireworks and the horse show were really something to watch. The entertainment was really well done.”

Great Britain – Tora Thomas, support team member
“The opening ceremony was amazing, probably the best I’ve been to. It was lovely how everyone mingled, it didn’t matter if you were a rider, manager or organiser, it was really inclusive.
“The nerves are beginning to build about the vetting this afternoon. Even if you are totally happy with the horse, all it takes is the horse to step one a stone and that ride is over before you’ve even started.
“It’s a deceptive course, your first impression is that it is quite easy. But there are a lot of different terrains and different going. So although it’s flat everywhere apart from the Red route, what’s under foot is very deceptive. You can be going over hard stoney stuff one minute but deep sand the next. The river crossings are going to be slippery. There are a lot of tree routes, twists, turns and banks. There are things to be aware of every metre of the 160km. It is going to be a really true test of horsemanship.
“Every championship throws up something different. Last year at the Europeans it was probably one of the most strenuous due to the elevation changes, but the going under foot there was much m ore consistent, so you weren’t having to look underfoot all the time. So I think we have been lucky recently in that all of the championships have been true tests but in different ways.”

Lithuania - Vidmastas Staskevicius, team vet
“For us it is very important to finish - to pass the first inspection and to enjoy taking part in the sport.
“We have a very good farrier and special shoes, so we aren’t worried about the rain that is forecast for tomorrow. We have been doing this sport a lot of years so we are pretty confident.”

Australia – Peter Toft, chef d’equipe
“At the start of the championships, the pre-ride vetting is going smoothly. We’re amazed at the facility, it is all horse friendly. It is a world championship and there is a lot of activity so the horses seem a little apprehensive about that but it is a very exciting race coming up tomorrow.
“The parts of the course we’ve seen so far are really impressive. It’s a true international course - it may be relatively flat but it is pretty technical, so I expect it will produce a true champion.
“Australia’s endurance at the moment is in a re-build phase, so we don’t have great aspirations for the
“Our training has been quite different this year as we’ve been training for this particular event. We’ve got a lot of mountainous had courses, so we’ve been trying to train on softer ground, to practice going faster for longer.”

Italy - Simona Garrati [Badr Dell’Orsetta] – former Italian National Champion competing at her second world championship
“The course and track look very good, it is the weather that could cause difficulties for us. We are not predicting individual medals but are aiming to have all four team horses home around the top 10.”

Japan – Kiyotaka Yaguchi, assistant chef d’equipe
“Japan is not an advanced country in terms of the sport of endurance so our goal tomorrow will be for all three of our team members to finish so that we can complete the team event. Euston Park is a fast course and lameness can be a factor but we want our horses to continue to the finish so we have no intention of going too fast.”

Equador - Rafaella d’Arquea, 19, rider [Jqishma Beauty] competing at her first senior World Championship
“My horse is from Uruguay and I have only been riding him for two months. He is quite soft and sensible most of the time but doesn’t like to be behind other horses – that’s when he goes crazy. At the start I will be aiming to be in the middle of the field and then see how he goes. I have not seen much of the track but from what I have seen, you have to use your head.”

Brazil – Mauricio Bittar, team vet
“Our team of horses and riders is very good. I am very proud of them they have prepared well and I think there is every chance that we could have our best world championship yet. This climate is ideal for us – a British summer is the same as the Brazillian winter back home so we are not worried about the weather – we are totally prepared.”

France - Phillippe Benoit, rider, previous gold medallist with the team in Portugal and Aachen (Akim de Boulve)
“This is my fifth time as a member of the French squad and I came 10th here at the trial event last year so I am very determined. My horse is 14 and so it might be his last world championship so I would like to do it for him. He has been very special, the horse of a lifetime. It will be very difficult for us though because this is a very big championship with some strong teams – the UAE, Qatar. I am pleased to be here – I am now the only member of the French team not working full time as a rider – in my other life I am a farmer.”

Denmark – Tanja Van Willigen, rider (Shajan)
“My hope is to complete in the best possible time for my horse. This is a very technical course with a high level of eliminations through lameness in the past so you have to go carefully. For the last year I have been doing aqua training with my horse – it has made him stronger and more muscular. I have seen that when we are cantering over short distances we are up to 1km faster than before. I am very excited about the start – he is a strong horse who likes to run.”

Norway – Ellen Suhr, rider (Shah Nahim)
“I was very pleased to pass my vetting this afternoon. I am nervous about tomorrow as I think it will be difficult with so many people starting all at once. I plan to chase the lead but go steady, just behind.
“I have only seen the training course, I don’t think the ground is the best so I have to be careful tomorrow.
“I haven’t had much time to train as I have two small children, a one and a half and three year old and work full time. So I try to train every second day and the rest he goes in the horse walker.
“I qualified in the Swedish championship I came second and got best conditioned. Getting that result does make me confident for tomorrow but I am very nervous of the start.
“My horse is quite excited at the moment so I am sending my husband out riding on him this evening.”

Spain – Ignasi Casas, Chef D’Equipe
“We are quite confident as we have a lot of horses who have been doing very well recently at big races, including the Europeans and here at Euston Park last year.
“Three of our riders are at a world championship for the first time, for two of them it is their first international competition, but everyone is excited and feeling confident.
“The course is fast and tricky. Lots of turning and changes from grass to track, it makes it difficult for the horse. You think you can go fast but all the time you have to start and stop.
“We’ve been practicing using tracks and making the horses change transitions. Making them learn how to balance on tracks by cantering from grass over tracks and back again.
“We plan to push tomorrow and go for a good result - we would like to be first! We’ve been first four times and the conditions are good so we would like a win.”