CHI Geneva

Inside the CHI Geneva 2019: Friday 13 December

Kent Farrington (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof) Kent Farrington (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

It was another victory for Kent Farrington who claimed the coveted Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final title at CHI Geneva. Partnered with his new bay mare, Austria 2, the fast duo knocked 2.22 seconds off the time set by Ireland’s Darragh Kenny, in spectacular fashion.

That was an incredible performance from Austria 2, what she’s like to ride?

Yes, she’s amazing. I started riding her in May and as soon as I tried her I thought she was an exceptional horse. She’s really small in stature but she’s got a huge heart and is a tremendous jumper. This is the biggest class she has ever jumped in her life, so to go on and win is amazing, she is unbelievable.

How was the atmosphere tonight? 

It was great. It’s my favourite show and maybe even the best in the world, here and CHIO Aachen are very close. The crowd was amazing tonight, everybody wants to win here, especially this class. So it really is a special night.

You have already won two classes here, do you think you can make it a hattrick and win the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?

I think I can win! I am going to try my best, give it my all and hope it all comes together on Sunday.

Louis Konickx (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof) Louis Konickx (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

Walking the course with:

International course designer Louis Konickx

CHI Geneva is unique in having two international Course Designers, Switzerland’s Gérard Lachat and Louis Konickx from the Netherlands. We spoke to Louis Konickx ahead of Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix: 

What can people expect to see from the Rolex Grand Prix course on Sunday?

We have the best riders in the world here, so myself and Gérard Lachat have been making the plans for the course. We know that the course needs to have everything in it, it must be very precise. We must consider the configuration and the distances between fences, the combinations are always a great challenge, so we need to ensure that they are put in exactly the right place, to ensure a test for the riders. It is always important to take timing into consideration, yesterday, we had 12 of the 13 riders in the jump-off who finished within one second of each other, so if you allow one second more on the clock, the course is already easier for the riders. So, if you ask me what is in the Rolex Grand Prix – everything! It is a very special arena because its bigger, so it gives something extra to the course because the riders can gallop.

What kind of horse would this course suit?

That’s a very interesting question, every horse is careful here, all the horses are very finely tuned, but there is a big difference between horses with a bigger stride and horses with a smaller stride. Generally, both types canter faster in this arena. You always have to be quick, and the riders will assess the timing given and find the right solution for each horse, so that they can do the best that they can. The smallest horses are often faster, whilst some horses jump too high, losing valuable time.

How do you and Gérard put the plans in place for the courses?

I love Gérard’s style, he creates very fluid courses, making sure to use all the space we have here. As always with course designing, if you stick to your own designs, you might miss something, but here I come and look at another’s design, and I would add some suggestions, changing something that he might not see. It is a good partnership, working together allows us to see each other’s designs with fresh eyes and point out things that might need changing.

Which riders do you think could win on Sunday?

If the prize is as big as it is here, then all the riders competing will be very good. It is the same at every championship, competitors need to stay very calm, as soon as they are too eager, mistakes happen. The ones that stay cool always have a better chance than those who are over-excited. All riders want to win but they must control their state of mind.

How many clears do you want to see?

It’s very hard to say, we are always afraid of getting the timing wrong. If we allow too much time, it is easy for everyone, but if we don’t allow enough, the riders will hurry round, and not jump the horses well. Our aim is to allow the horses to jump at their best, so we, as the audience, experience great rounds from the riders. If we have a time fault or one down, it’s a pity, but the riders like to compete when they feel the horse is at their best. If they have to go too quickly, it’s a lot of stress which is not good to watch. For me, it’s great to have around six to eight clears.

What’s your favourite part of being at CHI Geneva?

We shouldn’t forget that this is an extremely special show, the venue is beautiful, the way it is organized and decorated is wonderful. There are so many volunteers, who operate on a highly professional level. They know how to work efficiently, whilst having fun at the same time. This is what makes the show great and gives it the atmosphere. You cannot have people working who are not interested in the show. So, for me this is the best show in the world, it is a huge arena, with fantastic decoration and atmosphere – there is nothing quite like it. We also have the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, which no other show has.

Harry Allen (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof) Harry Allen (Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof)

A new generation with:

Harry Allen

Can you talk about what it’s like to be here at CHI Geneva?

I’m delighted to ride here, I’ve never ridden here before. I was once here to watch my brother Bertram (Allen) but to ride here I think it’s going to be unbelievable.

The Majors are putting on more U25 competitions, can you discuss how this helps young riders at the start of their careers?

I think that it’s great for me and for a lot of people my age. We can go to these bigger shows and if we do well, it will give us more opportunities to compete at a variety of big events. Ultimately it gives us experience to compete on a bigger stage which will help us grow in our careers.

What are your aspirations as a rider?

I would love to do as well as I can in the sport and hopefully climb the ladder to the top. It would be great to win some big Grands Prix one day.

What is the atmosphere like at CHI Geneva?

I think there’s a lot of pressure, the crowds are going to be big (they already were for the class this morning) but hopefully if everything goes well, it’ll be a good atmosphere.

Do you get nervous going into the ring?

No, it doesn’t really bother me so much, I just try to focus as much as I can.

The sport has a really wide age group in terms of competitors. Is it hard to break into the top professional level?

It has its ups and downs, but it helps because I can get a lot of help from the older riders and my brother so I am lucky in that respect.

Apart from Bertram (Allen), which riders do you look up to?

I think Marcus Ehning, he’s a great rider. His style, his system, the way he does everything. He always does very well at these Rolex shows, so hopefully it can be a good show here for him.

Which horses do you have here with you this week?

I have Dancing Queen. She’s a very good mare, she won the U25 Grand Prix in Fontainebleau earlier this year and I brought her to the Europeans where I was team bronze and 5th individually.

You left school at 16, to pursue a career in show jumping. How did you make that decision?

It wasn’t really a decision to be honest, I did the juniors and went out to Germany and was doing well, so it just kind of went from there and I stayed on.

The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, is that something you aspire to win one day?

It would be a dream to win just one Grand Prix or even a class at one of these shows.

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