Throughout her preparation for the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games Australian show jumper Edwina Alexander has posted periodic diaries, and this is the conclusion. Read her thoughts about the WEG, the World Cup, and her upcoming plans, courtesy of Rolex.
Q. What have you been up to since the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games?
A. I’ve been to Helsinki, Finland, Oslo, Norway, Lyon, France, and Verona, Italy, since returning from Kentucky. The horses have all been fine, but it involved a lot of travelling.
Itot will have only a few more shows left this year, and then he might do one or two in January, and then I’ll give him a break before the outdoor season starts.
I have a pretty hectic schedule between now and Christmas and have only had one free weekend lately, which I spent in Abu Dhabi for the Formula One Grand Prix.
I have a good bunch of horses at the moment to cope with this busy schedule; Socrates is back and was in Lyon, and Kisby has been fantastic. I think she might be a horse that could surprise a few people. Ciske hasn’t been the easiest of horses, but she is getting better show by show, and I’m very happy with the progress that she’s making.
Q. What are your thoughts on the WEG?
A. The arena was fantastic, and the ground was very good, but I was disappointed with a few aspects, and I know that a lot of the other riders feel the same. The huge scale of the event meant that everything was quite far away and generally inconvenient (stabling from the arena), which wasn’t ideal. The way that the warm-up was organized was not very well thought out at all. We (the riders) had high expectations of the Games as American competitions are usually so well organized, but compared to Aachen we felt frustrated.
I was happy but also disappointed with Itot. He felt in really good form and was sharp, almost too sharp, as though he was bursting out of his skin. When he came out of the ring he wasn’t sweating or blowing at all, and he felt top fit. I had a few unlucky faults, for example, on the first day in the speed class when I put the last fence down. In the second round I felt that Itot got a bit strong with me, and he was quite aggressive, but maybe that was my fault for not getting him back quickly enough.
I felt that the courses weren’t as big or as difficult as Aachen, that’s for sure. The first day and the Nations Cup weren’t very big; however, a lot of riders were saying that the semi-final was quite big and was a huge difference in comparison to the other rounds. I was disappointed at how many double-clear rounds there were, which meant that those with just 1 fault finished so low down the leader board.
Team-wise it was a great result by Australia in the Nations Cup to finish in seventh place and to also qualify for the Olympics. Considering the countries (USA, Holland and Spain) that we finished ahead of, we had reason to be extremely satisfied with our performances.
Q. What are your goals for the 2010/2011 season?
A. I’m hoping to make the Top 10 in Geneva, Switzerland, in December, and of course to qualify for the Rolex FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Leipzig, Germany, in April. I don’t necessarily think I will take Itot as I’d like to give him that time off, but you never know how things might change. Fortunately for me I don’t have a championship next year so that will make my schedule a bit less demanding, and I can also make an easier program for the horses. Other than that, I will be focusing on the Global Champions Tour.
It’s going to be interesting to see which riders perform well this season, and which make it to the Final. Christian (Ahlmann) had a great start, and I expect him to be joined by a pretty big German contingent in Leipzig. Christian’s a great rider with a fabulous horse. I’m very happy for him as he’s had a lot of tough times with the FEI, so it’s great to see someone like that coming back on to the scene.
Overall, this season is going to be quite different compared to 2009/2010 in the way that I approach it and the number of competitions that I take part in. I have these two new 8-year-olds (Ciske and Kisby) and some horses that have had a good season who are turning 9 soon, so I hope to have a really strong team next year. This season will give me valuable time to prepare all of my younger horses for next season rather than purely focusing on competitions with Itot and Socrates.
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.