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Thursday, 14 August 2008

Armchair Showjumping Commentary

Well the kiwis jumped well but they were so far behind on points that medals were not an option. I think we can still be proud of them though. Showjumping is very controlled and precise and takes intense concentration to navigate the horse, check position and approach to each jump and take off at the right moment. The Beijing course was tough and they did well to not accumulate many faults.

Seeing Mark Todd and Gandalf jump made me see what the hype was about with Gandalf. I missed seeing them on the cross country but I now not remotely surprised they went clear in each. Gandalf clearly has the stamina despite the demands of the dressage and cross country in the days before. He is a very solid, honest horse who seemed to me very easy to just guide and point at the jumps, always knowing where his feet were. I didn't for a minute doubt Mark's ability to pick a good horse but Gandalf's dressage as I said before lacked some flair but Mark is confident he has room to improve so I look forward to seeing more of Gandalf.

Sugoi looked gorgeous as he went round but his head strong, feisty-ness let him down once again. If he had just listened to Heelen he could have easily gone clear. Heelen did very well with him as it was clear he was trying to do his own thing throughout most of the round. It will be interesting to see how he develops too.

Lenamore surprised me. A couple of times I saw Caroline almost battling to pull in before a jump, which she managed well but unfortunately it was Lenamore not realising what was being asked too late that took the poles down. I had picked Lenamore as a much quieter horse after the dressage performance so it was a but of a surprise.

Snip's performance was also a real surprise. His impulsion wasn't quite right, he was quite messy with his feet and he failed to jump high enough several times. The difference between his jumping style and the cross country signalled that he seemed tired, maybe he had been a bit unsettled since the cross country or maybe the two previous phases took it out of him too much.

Looking back at the three phases I have to say I am very impressed with all the horses for different reasons. The riders did a superb job and I really feel for Andrew Nicholson and all the replays that have been going on of all the other times he nearly made it. He is a real credit to NZ equestrian and we all know what it is like to have nearly had it in hand only for something unfortunate to have happened.

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