Steve Guerdat – “I ended up with a mare in great shape and Dynamix de Belheme remained fresh after each round. I took care to make her jump with calm, also because it was her first highly demanding competition, and I managed to do that on every day of the event. I only felt her a little tired in the first round today, so I tried not to stress her too much in the first jumps of the second round and it went well in the end. I am very proud of Dynamix. She has been competing with me since 2019 and has steadily grown over time. I have had so many important horses in my career, but she is really special and we always believed she could become a superstar. My house is full of pictures of Nino des Buissonets, my wife’s favourite, but I always told her that she would soon have to find room for Dynamix de Belheme’s first major victory.”
Philipp Weishaupt – “To tell the truth, it was not in my plans to compete in this European Championship. Zineday is only nine years old and despite being a year younger than Guerdat’s horse, he showed just as much quality. In no way did I want to put him under pressure. I also wanted to keep him a bit out of the spotlight. However, after Aachen, everything changed a bit and it was virtually impossible to keep him under wraps. After Aachen, where he had a very smooth performance, there was Riesenbeck, and there I really realised that, notwithstanding his young age, he already had all the right stuff to deal with a competition at this level. In these five days, he has certainly learnt a lot. Although I knew that Zineday is a super-horse, I did not have any great expectations. I tried to ride as best I could and keep him calm. Which I did on the first day where we put in a very good first round. On the day of the team final, we made a mistake but Zineday showed no fatigue. He jumped very well and one mistake over five competitions is still a very good average”.
Julien Epaillard – “It was a super positive experience for us also in view of the future. I have two strong horses, Donatello d’Auge and Dubai du Cedre. So we work in view of next year. Dubai is an explosive mare with a lot of blood but today she was more relaxed. The excellent ground allowed us to do everything right,” said the bronze medallist Julien Epaillard, who literally ‘ran off’ to the airport immediately after the prize-giving ceremony.
Uliano Vezzani, chef de piste – “A fantastic competition, which was decided on the last jump of the last round. And that meant that the outcome was extremely good. The horses came out fresh from the arena after each competition, the riders were among the best in the world, and so the show was always extremely qualitative”.
Congratulations to Vezzani’s work came from all the competitors and were renewed by Weishaupt: “Uliano did a great job, the courses and obstacles were all challenging but never put the horses in too much difficulty, thanks also to the perfect ground conditions. So chapeau à lui!”.
At the end of the press conference with the protagonists of today’s individual final, some special prizes were awarded. The top three finalists, Steve Guerdat, Philipp Weishaupt and Julien Epaillard received a saddle from Jasmin Scomparin, Sponsorship Manager of Prestige Italia, and a helmet from Lelia Polini, CEO of Kep Italia. A Prestige Italia saddle also went to Emanuele Camilli as the best Italian rider in the European Championships. Cash prizes for the grooms of the three medallists were presented by Eleonora Ottaviani, director of the International Jumping Riders Club.
The press conference was attended by Sabrina Ibanez, Secretary General of the FEI, Marco Di Paola, President of the FISE, Laura Campopiano, Event Director of Milano 2023, Sara Riffeser, Show Director of Milano 2023, Simone Perillo, member of the Board. Matteo Sovera, Brand Manager of Longines Italia, was also present.
(On the podium: Philipp Weishaupt, Steve Guerdat e Julien Epaillard. Below, from the left, Fabio Schiavolin, Marco Di Paola, Giuseppe Sala, Stefan Ellenbrusch and Matteo Sovera)