Please enjoy the guest blog below, which comes to you humorously, if anonymously, from the World Cup Final in Geneva. I will be back with MMJR updates in a few days.


From some guy at the World Cup

Please stand by. Professionally trained, accomplished and knowledgeable journalists are clicking away at keyboards, downloading pictures, and analyzing outcomes. I, novice horse person, am feeding a more simple understanding of the happenings here at the FEI World Cup in Geneve (it will always be Geneva to me).

Basically, day two is done. My first journalistic faux pas, not blogging from the get go. Ooops, we were late-ish. But let me catch you up.

The venue is superb. Beautiful surroundings, cavernous indoor event centre (really, it’s a small part of this enormous trade complex, and it alone is a massive monument to human engineering, not like the billions of hand hewn stones comprising Italy’s walls, and buildings which took centuries, but big and cool nonetheless), an interesting, hard-sounding “new” riding surface (I’m sure you will hear all about it), all organized in what I am beginning to understand is typical Swiss precision. All on time, all smooth, all crisp and clean, all casual and efficient in two languages. We could learn.

The surface is handled by a small crew of capable teenage-looking volunteers, ably repositioning rails, fixing divots (golfer that I am), and replacing one of my favorite show jumping elements – the harrower. These “Piste-etts” as we have come to call them (“piste” is stenciled on the pack of their immaculate little uniforms, and I have been led to believe it means “course” – really, who knew? It’s all a huge stretch for my grammar school French skills) are quick and innocuous aides de campe.

We spoke briefly with the surface supplier – yes, I live a rich and fruitful life – they are confident it is ideal for the purpose. Might not want to ride on it every day, but footing and fairness is assured. We didn’t have time to get into the technical reasons it’s the preferred turf for this event.

The players. Well, I’ve been to local/regional events organized in Canada; attended show jumping at Toronto’s Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; sofa-surfed my way eagerly through the spectacle of Spruce Meadows.

But this in real time, real life is a palpable difference. You must come.

Yesterday at breakfast, prior to any real competition commencing, you could smell the ego, a side order of excitement and anxiety in the air. I don’t want to get personal, but it’s an interesting mélange of characters ranging from the relatively quiet to the raging maniacal. Beautiful people really, well trained, spotlessly prepared, eloquent in every stride.

Today, the reality of training and competition seems to have settled. There are fewer tall strutting riders in their stiff white breeches. The course, while in my pedestrian view, fair, has done its job and humbled a handful. Very few are out of contention, but the real players appear to have their game face on. I’m sure there will be many more ego casualties in the coming days.

I’m saddened that there is only rider one representing Canadian interests (unless of course you count Mario, youngest, one time World Cup winner, and recent defection to the American team). Karen Cudmore and Southern Pride posted a respectable mid-field result with no penalties, but about 6 seconds off the pace.

I am also disheartened that Meredith was unable to attend (her image adorns the cover of the show guide, and is featured throughout, so is here at least in spirit), but I guess it’s only five or so weeks since her birthing event, so one must understand these disappointments. I’m confident that Shutterfly is lounging comfortably at home.

If you miss all of the real reporting of the events, here are the top three from last night.

Rich Fellers, well groomed, articulate and interested family man, came first in a rousing speed event, eclipsing all others by half a second. It was looking for all the world like newbie Luciana Diniz from Portugal was going to run away with the event. Starting second, she held a commanding lead for over half the card, but ultimately placed a very respectable fourth against this world showing. But Rich, in what I have learned is his inimitable, hanging-on-by-a-thread-like style, punched through in the latter third of this rich (sorry) competitive lineup. A very impressive run, aggressive route (found all of the tight lines) and outright blistering speed; the key components I have learned that are necessary to win at this level.

While imperfect in his French language skills, Rich was professional and kind in his press conference remarks about the field of play, the high quality competitors, the course design and his own desires in the game. Saw him at the breakfast hall, quiet and unassuming, but not wearing his new Rolex. I want to think that he is wearing a watch from a special memory or someone in life. Too schmaltzy I know.

Maclain Ward seemed distracted and perhaps a bit confused in the conference.  Maybe simply he was focused more on the next day. Or hopefully, he’s just shy like me. Maclain placed a very solid second.

Three time World Cup winner Rodrigo Pessoa, aka the bomb (not known as such by me, but I reflect on the allusions of others) rode to a remarkable third, but a well-executed scamper it was. As a man, even I must remark that he is charming and eloquent, fluently transitioning from English to French (and I’m sure if called on, he could handle many other languages including his native Portuguese), calm, confident, careful and consistent in his responses. Not only a fierce competitor, but seemingly a real elegant and gentle man too.

At intermission, LORENZO performed a feature event, standing one foot on the butt end of each of two grey steeds, then guided four then six through intricate obstacles and over metre high jumps.  All very entertaining.

The final component of the night was “six bar” I think the starting lineup was about 10 riders; we stayed until the final two (Brit Michael Whittaker and German Ludger Beerbaum) were heading to a showdown at a staggering 1.90 metres. Don’t know the final outcome, sorry. An interesting format that I have seen only once before.

One last question, does Rolex ever sell any watches at retail? They seem to be all over the major sporting scene, lobbing Rolexes hither and yon. (what is the plural of Rolex?…. and if we aren’t careful, Rolex is going to become the next noun-verb conversion, like Swiffer (you know, as in I Swiffered the floor last night)  We should all be greatful to them, for however they do it, in endorsing their chosen sports and providing funds for such wonderful, global events.

So, I eagerly look forward to today’s features, which include the “first act” of the driving championships, and second round of jumping.