Arnaud Serre sneaks into Grand Prix Special

France's last rider to enter the arena in the Grand Prix Dressage event, Arnaud Serre pulled off an impressive feat, riding his Lusitano Robinson de Lafont de Massa, to a 72.843%, which was good enough to qualify him for the Grand Prix Special. 

Arnaud Serre sneaks into Grand Prix Special
© PSV Photos

The horse seemed to be on today despite stomach pains two weeks ago…What did you think about your test?

We prepared the horse well. We made sure he was feeling well today. After his stomach problems we took him to the clinic and it was taken care of quickly. So he stayed in form. During the run-up to the event, he was fresh and that is what we were looking for: a horse that had energy and was ready to go. And the test: Wow, I couldn't be happier really. Robinson is only nine years old.

The horse made two mistakes on the last diagonal extended trot. What happened?

It's not his strong suit, we know that. On the first extensions I held back a bit because I wanted to make sure to score for the team. I know it's his weakness especially when there is a lot of pressure like there was here today. The atmosphere was really great. You get a real boost from the crowd but that makes the horse a touch nervous. Throughout my preparations with him, he has always been super willing but I didn't want to take any risks. At the last second I wanted to step on the gas but he refused! (laughing) So I stopped asking him because I didn't want him to start galloping.

That's just it, the crowd was on the verge of bursting into applause towards the end. What's it like being inside the arena when it's like that?

What is really incredible is when the crowd gasps when you make a small mistake. You say to yourself "Darn, everyone saw"! (laughing) So you have to stay focused. All in all, it's been a great experience.

You've qualified for tomorrow's Grand Prix Special. What will be your approach?

I want to have fun and do well. I don't want to mess up, we didn't come here to make mistakes. So we'll keep focusing on our goals. My wife Anne-Sophie is here to help me manage the stress. We'll keep our concentration tonight and won't be doing any partying. Tomorrow, we'll try to do our very best. Objectively, we don't stand much of a chance of breaking into the Freestyle because the Special combines the extended trot and that's not his strength. But if he pulls that off, we've got a good chance of turning in an excellent and perhaps flawless performance. If I can maintain the points we earned today then we'll have done what we set out to do.

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