The first qualifier for the Rolex Grand Prix, the Trophée de Genève, saw nine horse and rider combinations compete in a hotly contested jump-off. Setting the bar high, Daniel Deusser riding Calisto Blue, was the first to produce a clear round with a thrilling time of 37.31 seconds.
Last to go, Pieter Devos, looked on par to emulate Deusser’s clear round but was a fraction too slow and had to settle for second place, with Simon Delestre finishing in third, both excellent contenders for the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday.
How did the course feel tonight?
The time was really tight in the first round so everybody was forced to ride forwards, and in the end the horses got quite long which accumulated a lot of faults. There were 10 combinations clear and a couple more with time faults, which is a good amount for a jump-off, but it was certainly not an easy class.
Going into the jump-off did you think you were in with a good chance?
To be honest, I was not sure. There were a lot of fast combinations to compete against and I thought that one or two might be a little bit quicker, but I think my clear round put the pressure on and some of the horses were forced to go quicker which made them go a bit flat. I had a good round and was really pleased with my horse.
Looking ahead to the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday, who do you think your biggest competition is?
There are quite a few really good competitors here this weekend, so it is hard to say. I think McLain Ward and Clinta will go well, Steve Guerdat and Bianca are hard to beat when they are on form as well, it will be a good competition for sure.
Behind the stable door with: Emma Uusi-Simola, groom to Steve Guerdat
What is your favourite part of the job?
One of my favourite parts of the job is the travelling. I really enjoy seeing different parts of world and spending time with the horses away from the yard. I also love the atmosphere that the shows bring, each one is so different but the feeling of excitement you get from the crowd is the same and really special.
Do any of Steve’s horses have any funny characteristics?
Yes, Bianca has such a big character and is a typical mare! At home she is the calmest horse on the yard, she is so easy and laid back, but once she gets to the show, she becomes really nervous and a lot less calm! I think she get’s nervous about competing, but she always manages to channel her nerves in the ring. She is also very picky about what treats she likes and if you give her the wrong ones, she turns her nose up at them.
Albfuehren’s Bianca has had an incredible year of results so far, why do you think she is performing better than ever before?
Steve has worked with Bianca for a while now and wanted to make sure he gave her time to grow and develop before pushing her too much. I think this is the key to her success, as it is important to make sure the horse is both mentally and physically ready to compete at this level. She has grown up now and is an amazing horse with so much talent and scope, so we are really pleased that she is doing so well.
Do you have any grooming/travel tips?
I think the most important part of this job and the best tip I can give, is to always make sure the horses are happy. For me, I like them to have freedom and for them to feel like horses not just competitors, so we make sure we give them lots of time in the field to relax and eat the grass. It’s not a secret, but a happy horse will mean a happy rider and that makes my job easier!
What routine do the horses have when they finish competing?
After they have jumped, we use some ice on their legs, give them a very thorough brush to get the blood circulation moving well and with some of the horses we use massage blankets too.
What advice would you give for someone wanting to start a career in this industry?
You have to be sure that you want to work really hard, the days are long and require a lot of commitment. My advice would be that you can always keep learning, so always ask people questions and seek advice from others, as it will mean that you keep improving.
What is the best moment of your career so far?
That’s a hard one as there have been lots of high points working for Steve. I would have to say the two moments that stand out for me are; the first time we won the World Cup Final, I can still remember the buzzing feeling and celebrations, it was so exciting. The second has to be when Steve won the Rolex Grand Prix here with Nino, the crowd’s reaction was incredible, and it was so emotional.