You know you are really excited about watching a horse jump when it gives you goose bumps AND an adrenaline rush. That’s what I felt a few minutes ago when Eric had one of his classically beautiful clear rounds in the first of two rounds in the individual semi-final. Only four horses out of 30 went clear. Rodrigo didn’t! Eric sits second. All he has to pull off is top four tonight and he’s in the final four tomorrow night. We are all rubbing our hands in anticipation of watching the other riders struggle with Hickstead in the horse swap. I asked Jenn Ward if he’s very studdy – you know, screaming at other horses etc. She tells me he’s quiet as a puppy everywhere but in a ring with jumps in it. She says a ten year old kid could hack him – as long as he doesn’t see any jumps. I’m so excited because Rolf-Goran (like the Swedish version of Ralph Malph) and Ninja la Silla – one of my fave horses in Hong Kong, is clear and third behind Eric. Love those little dynamo horses.
(sung to the tune of ‘Me and Bobby McGee’) Me and Mohammed Ali
I could write an entire blog just poking fun at the names of some of the show jumpers – horses and riders both. In fact, I think I will. Here are a few of my favourites in descending order of humorous possibilities:
1. Chris Chugg – this is the hands down winner, for so many reasons. First of all because he’s an Aussie and what do Aussies do? They chug beer. Now this part isn’t very funny unless you are racist but it’s kind of funny even if you aren’t. Where I grew up in northern BC, chug is a derogatory name for an aboriginal person. The scariest kid in my class in grade 1 (he’d already failed and was a year older) was a kid called Chuggy Switzer. He was only 50% native, but he was 100% scary MOFO. Whenever I saw the Tasmanian Devil on Bugs Bunny I thought of Chuggy, and vice versa. His real name is actually Leland and he’s in jail for murdering his brother. How’s that for irrelevant, Beate? One more thing about Chris Chugg, who is 50 (I know that because on the first day of the show jumping instead of the year of the horse’s birth on the start list they had the rider’s year of birth). When he finishes a round, even if he isn’t clear, Chris the chugger gallops around and does canter pirouettes for the crowd, kind of an equestrian version of popping wheelies. I thought that would piss off the next rider in the ring because he hangs out there for so long, but Jenn says they probably like it because it gives them extra time to show their horses the jumps.
2. Geir Gulliksen – he came in the ring in first geir, then shifted into second geir as he approached the first jump; by the time he hit the triple combination he was in fifth geir.
3. Billy Twomey – give that twomey! Give it twomey right now!
4. Cavalor Valentina Van’T Heike – come on! Really? The only part of that name that makes sense to me is the sponsor name at the front.
5. Alvaro Miranda, aka Doda – Doda is kind of a silly nickname but the real reason I included him is because he was assigned the number 666 at WEG. Now that’s just not nice, organizers. Doda and Athina take really great care of their horses. He didn’t deserve that.
6. Rebozo – Rodrigo’s horse. That name isn’t funny but his barn name is: Bozo.
7 Björn Nagel – that’s not a funny name in itself, but it sure is a funny name for a Ukrainian. So is Cassio Rivetti (and in yet another nationality twist he’s actually Brazilian). That rich Ukrainian businessman is still buying up the riders from elsewhere.To lend them authenticity they should add ‘chuk’ to the ends of their names: Nagelchuk and Rivettichuk. Looks like there must be a rich Turkish show jumping fan floating around here too. Gerry Flynn is riding under the Turkish flag.
Ok, enough. I’m running out of material, unless I head into the gutter with something like Pedro Veniss – Veniss the Pe…never mind.
Since I can’t pick on the judges in show jumping I’m going to pick on someone else I saw NOT WATCHING the team final two nights ago. Co-manager of show jumping for WEG David Distler was standing outside the judges’ and announcers’ tower on the landing chatting with Peter Doubleday, who was not announcing, and also not watching. Lame. I checked the view from the landing tonight before the jumping started and you can’t see more than a sliver of the ring from there. Not that either man was looking. They were chatting and staring at their hands. Here’s some poor quality photo evidence, taken with my Blackberry – because my camera was temporarily MIA after I left it in the media centre and some kind soul put it in a safe place until I had the brain power to realize it wasn’t in the pocket of the jacket I had left at the shack.
Dis’in the team show jumping final
A quick note on the Para riders. I’m sorry to report that it would be an exaggeration to call the people in the stands a crowd at the Para arena. I really wish everyone here would watch just a couple of those amazing, brave people do their thing. Louise Parkes is an Irish journalist who is writing all the FEI press releases here. She started crying watching the Para dressage. Not because it’s sad – because it’s inspiring. Anyhoo, they ran the Grade Ia and III freestyles today and at the end they discovered the ring is four meters too long. And that is a BIG problem when you are riding a freestyle, since the music is edited to give you X amount of time to perform each movement and if the ring is too big or too small you will be either behind or ahead of your music. I think I’ll coin a new term: WEG Cluster.
And finally, here are the final four riders who will swap horses tomorrow night (a tear for Rolf-Goran and Ninja – they had a rail in the second round):
1. Abdullah ‘I can’t believe he made it’ Al Sharbatly
2. Rodrigo ‘it’s all we expected of you’ Pessoa
3. Phillippe ‘bien fait’ Le Jeune
And, and, AND……Eric L’Amazing! He is actually first right now but since it’s clean slate tomorrow it matters only to Eric’s legions of fans.
Heavens to Betsy, that looks like a lot more than 25 riders walking the second round