Patrice Delaveau: "I’m very proud to open these Games"
After a very solid sixth-place performance in the first event, can you give us your first impressions?
I’m pleasantly surprised. I must admit that even though I live just 50km from Caen, I’ve never been to the stadium, not even to see a football match. When I got here this morning and walked through the tunnel to come onto the main arena, I thought it was absolutely fantastic. Even though it doesn’t yet have all the bells and whistles, everything still looks really wonderful. The atmosphere in the stadium in great, but we’ll have to see what it’s like with a full crowd. There were a lot of children in the stands today, and their voices carry. When the stadium is full, it will definitely be exhilarating.
Do you feel that this is a unique experience in your career, as a rider competing in such a large-scale event on his home turf?
I am obviously very proud to open these Games here in Normandy, just 50km from where I live. I entered quite late on: originally I thought I’d just come to watch, then I said to myself that it’d be great to share my impressions with my potential teammates and jump in front of the first spectators. So, I pulled out all the stops and even decided to wear my French team colours (laughs). When the tests are over, I’ll tell my teammates that they can expect a really superb venue. The boxes are comfortable, the horses are well stabled – which is essential – and the rings are spacious. Right now, I’d say that the organisers have done a great job.
During this first class, we saw a few refusals. Is it because of the stadium format?
There’s nothing out of the ordinary about the refusals. The foreign federations sent several horse and rider pairs who are young and inexperienced. This type of venue is bound to be overwhelming. The contrast between the schooling arena, which is very calm, and the stadium, which is rather intense, can be disconcerting for some. In the first few classes at the Games, there will also be a few refusals by these delegations, who aren’t as used to competing in major events. That is unlikely to happen with horses from the French team, who already know this type of venue, since they’ve competed at La Baule or Herning, for instance.
Ornella is jumping at these test events. How is she doing?
I think she has come back well. In any case, that’s the impression she left at La Baule and Saint-Tropez. However, if I’m lucky enough to be selected to the French team, I clearly won't bring her to Caen – I’ll bring Orient Express instead. Orient is in very good form. He’s already proven as much in Rotterdam, where he won the Grand Prix. In the next couple weeks, I’ll take him to a smaller event, and then the Paris Eiffel Jumping Grand Prix, then Gijon, and finally Caen, if they want us (smiles).
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