Australian show jumper Edwina Alexander is preparing for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games, and she's agreed to a series of interviews and updates. With one week to go before the show jumping, she fills us in on her latest doings and plans for after the WEG.
Q. What’s happened since Aachen?
A. Since the CHIO Aachen, I have been focusing on getting my horses more organized. I took my new mare Ciske van Overis to Valkenswaard (the Netherlands) to compete in the CSI**. She was very good, placing third in the first grand prix. In the second grand prix she had one fence down. I also took my new 6-year-old horse Quimono de la Roque to Valkenswaard, and I’m now preparing him for Lanaken. He did exceptionally well there, placing in every class over the two shows. Itot has also been on a programme—in Chantilly (France), straight after Aachen, he jumped very well with three clear rounds, but I slipped a bit in the jump-off, and we ended up third. In Valkenswaard, I went for a good time and unfortunately, he knocked a couple down in the second round.
I’ve just come back from Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) where I took two horses: my 8-year-old Kisby and Itot. They both travelled very well, arriving a few days before the show. Itot had one class on the first day and then, after a rest day, he took part in the grand prix. He was very good—he jumped three clear rounds and finished third in the grand prix, which lifted me to third in the overall Global Champions Tour standings. I won $228,973, so I was pretty happy.
It was a very good result, and I couldn’t have gotten any higher with the way things stood. It was a very exciting event with a lot of tension. Had I finished in sixth place in the grand prix, I don’t think I would have ended up third overall. My 8-year-old was also very good on the first day, coming fourth. She had a couple down but overall, I was very happy as it was a strong competition,
Q. What’s your plan before the WEG?
A. Itot was looking quite tired when he returned, so he had a few quiet days in the field and in the woods. For the moment, I am going to give him a few easy weeks, and then I’ll build him up again. We’ll work on fitness, do some work on the racetrack—he’ll probably only jump a few times before the WEG. The Australian team will also come here (to Stal Tops) for a week’s preparation from the 20th – 24th of September, and the horses will fly out on Sept. 25.
As for myself, I’ve been trying to balance rest and work. The weekend before Rio, I took four days off and went to Monaco, which was nice. This weekend past, I had a wedding to attend, and I rode the other horses a little, but it was a really relaxing weekend. I will be attending the Venice Film Festival, and then I’ll go to Madrid (Spain) with Ciske and Kisby. I’ll be back here for a few days, and then I’ll go to Barcelona (Spain). After that, I’ll be preparing with the other members of the Australian team, and I’ll go to Lanaken (Belgium), but I’ll base myself at home and drive back and forth. I’ll then fly out to Kentucky on the 27th of September.
I’ve given myself a week there to settle in, and I’ve actually booked myself into a really nice hotel there, away from the other riders. I wanted something a little quieter so I can relax. I have the entire week off, so I’ll probably watch some DVDs and bring books to read—otherwise I will go crazy!
Q. What are your expectations for the WEG?
A. I’m feeling quite confident as I think it’s always important to go into a championship on the back of some form and to be mentally strong. I’d love for the Australian team to get a medal and personally, I want to get into the Final. I’d love to become World Champion as I think that is something that everyone dreams about.
The first day (of competition) is the Table C and if you’ve seen the results from past WEGs, you’ll see that you don’t necessarily have to win on the first day to have a good chance. It’s more important to be consistent over the several days of competition to have a good chance of going through to the Rolex Top Four. The Final is tricky as it really depends a lot on which horses also take part, and I’m also thinking about how the WEG will affect what happens afterwards. A lot can change with your horse and the amount you have to jump them at the WEG can impact what will happen post-WEG.
I’m not worried about how Itot will handle being ridden by other riders if we make it into the Rolex Top Four. He’s very small, so he doesn’t have the same striding as the other horses. He’s quite sensitive, but I’m not too worried about him as he has a great mind. A lot rests on which other horses are in the Top Four and their temperaments, I mean the last WEG (in Aachen) went very well, but I was a little bit unlucky timing-wise with Shutterfly.
I’ve never competed in Kentucky before, although I have competed in the States—in Las Vegas and down in Florida, so I’m really looking forward to it.
Q. What are your plans post-WEG?
A. I will be leaving on Sunday, Oct. 10, and the following Thursday, I will be in Oslo (Norway) for the start of the new Rolex FEI World Cup season. So I’ll be back in the swing of things right away. I’ve got a very heavy season coming up—I will be competing virtually every weekend, except one. It’s going to be pretty hard. I have a new 8-year-old stallion that I will probably start in Oslo. My focus for the rest of the year will be on the World Cup and the Rolex Top 10 Final in Geneva, Switzerland.
My parents will also come out for Christmas, so they will attend the Geneva and London (England) legs of the World Cup. It’s the first Christmas I’ve spent with them in 12 years, so I’m really looking forward to that. They’ve never been to any indoor shows in Europe, so I said they should definitely come to the Geneva and London ones. After that, we’ll spend Christmas in Monaco and I will try to get some much-needed rest.
Edwina Alexander, 36, left Australia for Belgium in 1998 with the goal of becoming a top show jumper. She competed at the World Equestrian Games in Jerez, Spain, in 2002 and rose to prominence in 2006 when she finished fourth aboard Isovlas Pialotta against the best horses and riders in the world at the WEG in Aachen, Germany. She placed ninth at the 2008 Olympic Games. She is currently based at Jan Tops' Staltops in Valkenswaard, the Netherlands. She is a friend of Rolex and will continue to send updates on her journey to the WEG.