South Africa saddled up four horses for the World Equestrian Games in Caen, France recently, writes Mark Etheridge.
Other disciplines featuring SA participation in France were dressage, eventing and vaulting.
Chef d’Equipe for the show jumping category was Bruce Dewar who managed the four riders and their horses for the duration of their competition. The four combinations were as follows: Oliver Lazarus riding Pour la Passage, Cara Frew (Leopold Pierreville), Neriska Prinsloo (Effect van der Bishop) and Jade Hooke riding New Era. Of these the best-placed performer was Lazarus, but more about him later.
Says Dewar: ‘The team all arrived on the Saturday before the vet Inspection on Sunday morning. The team members were complimented for their appearance in the national Proteas clothing. They all presented themselves well and all the horses passed the vet inspection. The next evening we had the opportunity of a free practice in the stadium in order for the horses to get accustomed to the arena. All horses worked well and seemed comfortable in the arena.’
Monday was the practice day where the riders could jump a track in the stadium. According to Dewar all the riders rode and were very happy with the way their horses went.
Competition started on Tuesday, with a speed class. ‘The track was not only built too big but big enough so that one had to ride with a very clear head.
‘Cara rode first and the horse did not compete well and was unfortunately eliminated. Neriska had an unfortunate stop which saw her end up with a time of 122.05sec. Jade had a few poles and ended with a time of 101.46. Oliver was the last SA rider to ride, had one pole down and ended with a time of 84.56 which put him 38th place.
‘Wednesday was the first round of the team event. Cara jumped much better than the previous day and finished on 19 penalties. Neriska finished on 22 penalties, Jade on 36 penalties and Oliver finished with a superb clear.’
Thursday saw the final day of the team event but Dewar says the South Africans didn’t qualify for the final. ‘They only took 15 teams and we were lying 30th after the first round of the team event. But Oliver qualified to jump in the second round of the team event as an individual as he was now rank 32nd and the top 50 qualified for the second round. Oliver jumped another superb clear which let him ranked 18th and qualified for the individual competition.
‘Friday was the final individual competition. Oliver unfortunately had three poles giving him a score of 12 penalties. This ruled him out of the chances of qualifying for the final four and he decided to withdraw his horse from the second round.
‘This left Oliver’s final standing at 26th place. His performance was superb and to finish 26th in the World Games is an achievement in itself.
‘The rest of the team did themselves proud. And we can only improve the next time. It was an honour and a privilege to be their Chef d’Equipe,’ concluded Dewar.
Pictured (from left to right) are the SA show jumpers at the WEG: Cara Frew, Bruce Dewar (Chef d’Equipe), Neriske Prinsloo, Oliver Lazarus and Jade Hooke