16 March 2020   |  Share this article:

The impact of corona on five-star riders...

We don't have to explain it... The Corona virus is captivating the world. Competition after competition is canceled, but how is life now for the five-star riders? Niels likes to give a word of explanation. 


"Perhaps it is not bad for the equine sector that everyone has to stay at home for a few weeks. That may sound strange, but I'm really trying to enjoy the time I can spend with my family now. The situation is the same for everyone, and I think that if we follow the measures properly, we will get out of this situation the quickest. Look, at our level, there is something every weekend: either you are on a five-star show, or showing with young horses, or with the other horses on two-star level, … You are always away from home. Now everyone is just at home. ”


"But don't get me wrong, I am genuinely afraid of the economic consequences. This is a real disaster for everything. The economy, trade, human lives, ... None of these measures makes us happy, but let's hope it contributes positively to our health! In any case, I try to strictly follow up the Belgian measures. I really don't think it's something to laugh with…”



“When Indoor Brabant made the decision to cancel the competition, my horses had just arrived. Still, the decision did not surprise me: you first read the news about a maximum of 1000 visitors, then you read about no public, ... Then you know that there is a good chance that such an event will be canceled. I was not really shocked, but when you hear that the GCTs of Mexico, Miami and Shanghai are being canceled and also the CSI5* of Paris, then it sinks in. It makes you silent… ”



However, not all competitions chose to cancel ... For example, in Wellington they jumped until Sunday, while in Dortmund they also jumped until Saturday. Not really fair for the Longines Ranking points, is it? “Well, I can't really estimate the situation in those other places, but I don't see a problem with that for one weekend. If they had continued there for weeks, it would have been annoying, because then we would have been in a disadvantage. ”



“If it is bad for my competition schedule? Gosh, it's just what you call bad… If someone in your area dies from Corona, that's bad! Adjusting a schedule might be tedious, but it certainly doesn't seem insurmountable. There is a solution for everything! But I'm relieved that they also canceled the World Cup final. Imagine not being able to compete for five weeks and then having to enter that final directly… That really wouldn't have been fair for the horses! Horses, also at that level, need a certain competition rhythm. With older experienced horses that may not even be about the competition rhythm, but you really can not leave a horse at home for five weeks and then immediately enter a championship over a height of 1m55. That is not healthy! I think you need at least a class or two to get them into the rhythm and up to the height. Look if the competition break is two weeks, then it doesn't matter, but five weeks… That's already something! ”



“I have not yet been selected for Tokyo, but I won’t deny that I am thinking about the Olympics. I do everything I can to get a selection, and if the Games don’t happen this year that would be a serious disappointment. If they were to postpone the Games, than that would be the same for everyone, although that is also not entirely true… There are going to be riders who now have a 16-year-old horse that is still fit to compete, and that's next year or the year after perhaps no longer the case at all. Or top horses that now have a chance to win a medal, but may be past their peak in two years. I would be very sorry for those riders, because I know how hard we all live and strive for that… ”


How long?

“The IJRC speaks about the end of April already, I think that everything will ultimately come down to the authorities. Let’s hope that we can start again by the end of April. I was actually hoping for the end of March, but I don’t think that will be the case. I think we will have to stay at home for at least four weeks. Let's hope it doesn't take too long and then we can start again with even more motivation!”


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