Roman Ramblings…..CSIO Rome – Piazza di Siena 2023

Catching up with some riders and Chefs d’Equipe at CSIO Rome – Piazza di Siena 2023

by Louise Parkes for Equi Equipe

Piazza di Siena – it cannot be real!

Like everyone arriving at Piazza di Siena today, Swedish Chef d’Equipe Henrik Ankarcrona was enjoying the lovely weather and this very special location this morning.

«Piazza di Siena is such a beautiful venue and it looks even more fantastic this year. It is so beautiful that if you painted a picture of it people would say ‘that can not be real’ – but it is, and we love it here!».

CSIO Rome Piazza di Siena 2023 – ©ParkesMedia

Laura Kraut has high hopes for Bisquetta

«Bisquetta is a nine-year-old mare, I got her when she was 7 and she’s a really exciting horse for the future for me. I jumped her in her first 5-Star about three weeks ago and she was clear, she’s everything you want in a horse. She’s brave, she’s smart, she’s quick, careful. I jumped the 5-Star Grand Prix with her in San Miguel, Mexico. She has only jumped one 1.60m course, and her plan for this week is the Saturday Grand Prix, I’ve got Baloutine here for the Sunday Rolex Grand Prix. At the end of the summer or the start of fall I think Bisquetta can then start to step up.

Laura loves Roma

«I love Rome. This is my 23rd year here, the first time I came was in 2000! And Nick (her partner and British Olympic champion Nick Skelton) has come here for 45 years! I was asked how much it has changed and I said a little but it’s actually much the same and it’s just so beautiful!».

Laura Kraut and American Olympic ambitions

«Plan for 2023? To jump in Aachen, then Barcelona (FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final) is very important for our country because we want to try to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Then if we don’t succeed there I imagine the Pan American Games (in Santiago, Chile from 22 October to 3 November 2023) will be our full focus».

British Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard: great to have Ben back!

«It’s great to have Ben back at this stage of the season, especially after his horrific accent!», said British Chef d’Equipe Di Lampard today. Reigning Olympic champion Ben Maher was injured in a fall in Florida, USA in February but has been back in the saddle in recent weeks and firing on all cylinders once again.

«He has so many lovely horses to get out and compete with and performing at this level like he has been this last two weeks – this is just his third weekend back – is just amazing, the work he has put in get back so quickly is unbelievable. But he’s been determined and no better man to stand up to that challenge!».

The British squad

«We have other partnerships here – John Whitaker whose horse is fresh and hasn’t done so much jumping this year but John always goes well in Rome so we have him in that corner. We have new partnerships in the team – Matt Sampson who has been producing this horse (Ebolensky) for a long while – everybody is having an opportunity to build up for the European Championships. Jodie Hall-McAteer is becoming a regular member of the team now, absolutely going well all the time and getting valuable experience. Tim Gredley is again a rider that we will be trialling, going on to St Gallen with us next week. He has two very good horses, the young horse Imperious who we are looking forward to seeing this year and Medoc who is an experienced campaigner».

Every detail has a touch of class at Piazza di Siena….©ParkesMedia

Tough Nations Cup

«This is always a tough Nations Cup. To come here to Rome at the beginning of the year is not for the faint-hearted that’s for sure. It’s the most beautiful show in the world and we are never short of riders that want to come! We’ve been very lucky here over the years and have enjoyed a lot of success here including two wins in the last seven years (2015 and 2016) and it would be nice to make it three tomorrow!».

Looking forward to the rest of the year…

«I’m really excited for this year. It’s the first time for many years that we have our Olympic qualification already confirmed (for Paris 2024) and this has enable us to open the door even more to new partnerships. It is something we have had to bring forward anyway with the “changing of the guard” – riders retiring and stepping down – so it has provided plenty of new opportunities, and those riders we have here now need to put down those clear rounds tomorrow!».

Former schoolteacher Jessica jumping for joy at Piazza di Siena

It’s only a few short years since Irish rider, 31-year-old Jessica Burke, took time out from her job as a schoolteacher to follow her dream as a showjumping rider. Today she cantered into the arena at Piazza di Siena as a member of the Irish squad, and she can hardly believe her dream has come true.

«I’ve never been in Piazza before, in fact I had never been to Rome before, so it is amazing, what a place! And I’ve got three lovely horses with me.

Nikey is a 10-year-old mare, an incredible horse and probably still a little bit green at this level yet but this week should bring her on in her career. My older horse Express Trend has been phenomenal this year and Impulse is also a phenomenal speed horse.

The way Express Trend is going, he’s doing things I never thought he could so I wouldn’t be surprised if he jumps in a big Nations Cup some day. He was brilliant in the Middle East and won the final 1.55m €100,000 class on the final day in Sharjah (UAE) and went to Arezzo (Italy) and won the 3-Star Grand Prix on the last week there and two weeks ago in Montefalco (Italy) 4-Star he won the €50,000 ranking class and then came here! I’m living the dream!

Ireland’s Jessica Burke making her debut in Rome at Piazza di Siena 2023. ©ParkesMedia

I’m still based at Arion Stud in Hampshire (Great Britain) and it has been difficult with Brexit but we’ve worked it quite well. We go away for five or six weeks and then go back and it’s nice to get the horses back to England for a break. I have a great team there at home doing the young horses so we are lucky enough to be away like this and to still keep the base going at home.

I’m here as the number five rider on the Irish team so the lads will compete tomorrow in the Nations Cup all going well, but I’m still looking forward to being part of a great day».

Q&A – Henk Nooren, Chef d’Equipe France

Q: As 2022 Nations Cup winners is there extra pressure on Team France this year?

A: “No extra pressure, like any Nations Cup the guys are trying their best and that they will do again tomorrow”.

Q: What about Team France in the limelight with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games coming up soon?

A: “Of course when the Games are in your own country that will put extra pressure on you. It has already started, with media constantly, and the closer we get to the Games the worse it will get – that is normal”.

Q: But you have plenty of good horses and riders to choose from…

A: Horses yes, I think we have good horses, I don’t think we have stars perhaps, only Cayman of Simon Delestre, the rest are good horses and yes with a group of experienced riders.”

Q: Is it a big management job for you under these circumstances?

A: Well not only for me, I would say it’s really the work we all do together already for the last couple of years and I think we are heading in the right direction. Everybody is having fun and the spirit is excellent.”