News from Vicki

26 August 2008

Well, the Olympics are done and dusted, and what a series of highs and lows!!  Highs were the fabulous performances by our whole equestrian team, particularly the jumpers, who produced arguably our best ever performance.  Quite a difference from 4 years ago when it was a bit embarrassing to see our only rider run near to last.  In Hong Kong every member of the team looked as though they well and truly belonged in that highly elite group.  Particularly satisfying was the performance of the Aussie based riders on their Aussie bred horses, Laurie Lever and Pete McMahon.  Drossel Dan caught everybody's attention with his fabulous scope and rideability, and Genoa with her fabulous scope, but maybe not the rideability!  Edwina and Itot were so great to record the only double clear in the Nations Cup, and poor Mattie, put in that anchor man position in a situation that has never occurred to us before; that of if he could have jumped a clear round (well within his and Leconte's capabilities...) we would have had our first ever jumping medal!  Extremely tough call on a 23 year old at his first Games.  Normally our number 4 rider just has to hope to improve the position of the team a bit, so that is the theory behind giving our best performed rider, Edwina, the luxury of the choice of starting position in the team, gives her the best Individual chance, but goodness me, to be actually within striking distance of a medal...Nonetheless they all put in great performances, and it was tough on Pete and the team when a fall in the warm up left him with a broken collarbone.  Then to have 3 qualified in the 35 for the Individual Final, great stuff.

Big congratulations to National Coach Gillie Bockmann, Chef Stephen Lamb, Edwina and Matt's coaches Jan Tops and Henk Nooren, and all the others in the support crew, of which there are many and all form an integral part in a team's success or failure.  Great too was the organization in Hong Kong, the stables were wonderful, the footing superb and tracks imaginative and beautifully designed.  Just one small personal criticism.  I fear that the pendulum has swung again to gear becoming ridiculously light, with the Chinese Wall having coping that was about as light as matchboxes, and many planks being the same, which has led to a certain extent to the current 'doping' scandals.  The fences for sure can't get higher or wider, and the technical aspect is enormously high, but to expect horses not to at least lightly touch a fence has become unrealistic, especially in the Hong Kong climate.  So what is wrong with results then being decided on the clock?  For sure the most entertaining competition was the 3 jump offs that occurred in both the Teams and the Individual Finals, and it is most important that our sport has an 'entertainment' aspect in order to stay as one of the mainstream sports. 

Back home here all is well.  Sophie Miller and Jess Stalling were also at the Games, and totally inspired by the awesome jumping.  Also spotted quite a few of our promising juniors taking advantage of the closeness of the Games.  This week Danni Butcher is here to brush up a bit in preparation for Adelaide and Melbourne Royals (being in Europe, I missed Melbourne entries!), but my guys are gearing up for State and Aussie Titles in September/October.  New Dutch 5 year old is in work, and feels great, while the 4 year old seems to have grown another 3 ", so I'll leave him in the paddock a bit longer...

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