ou are designing the final championship GCT Grand Prix course in Abu Dhabi – as you did for 2011 – how do you make your final decision on the height and technical difficulty of the course?
To take the last decisions for the Grand Prix course I need to see the riders/horses in the preceding days.
When designing a world class Grand Prix course, what are your priorities and what is the formula for success course designing at the top level?
My first priority is the welfare of the horse. To make a successful course, I think the course has to be well thought technically. The difficulties have to be fairly distributed on the whole course so that all the riders have to be concentrated from the beginning to the end creating suspense on each jump. In a jump-off what is more interesting for the audience is the speed and the quick turns, therefore I usually give options to the riders so that each rider can choose what is the best way for them and their horse to face the course. This captivates the public because the result is open until the very last participant.
When you are watching the riders and horses test out your course in the first round of a Grand Prix, what are your feelings and thoughts?
During the first round of a Grand Prix I follow with attention and interest the riders and horses to evaluate my work, but also to have input to define the details of the second round.
GCT outdoor arenas vary in size from the big show grounds in Hamburg and Chantilly to the small arenas in Cannes and Monte-Carlo, how do you adapt for this?
The design of the course always has to be adapted to the size of the arenas, leaving always a fluidity in the action for the horse/rider and adapting the technical difficulties.
What have been your highlights in designing the Global Champions Tour Grand Prix courses during 2012?
All the GCT Grand Prix have their own appeal, giving me different emotions each time. I like all the GCT courses that I have done.
Have you introduced any new techniques in your course designing for Global Champions Tour this year?
It is always an evolution in sport jumping, it is necessary to follow that evolution to keep up with the high quality of the GCT shows. I am in continuous evolution.
Is there one particular GCT course this year that you would describe as the most difficult?
All the GCT courses have their own difficulty, as to where and when in the season they are built. The variety of the venues is one of the characteristics of the GCT, together with the presence of the best riders of the of the world.
You started out as a rider, do you still ride?
Unfortunately I do not ride anymore….20 kg ago I used to ride!!!
As we approach the end of the GCT 2012 season, what is your opinion of how the standards of riders and horses have changed?
The importance of the GCT means that every horse/rider is always at a very high standard. Each GCT show offers the extraordinary possibility to the riders to always compete at the top level, giving them the opportunity to improve their standards.