Grégory Wathelet, winner of the Longines Grand Prix of Paris is the latest contestant competing for the Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping. The Belgian rider confided to us that he'll be making a complete change to his usual schedule in order to travel to Hong Kong and be in with a chance of making his "secret dream" come true.
After your victory in the Longines Grand Prix of Paris, you're in the running for the bonus of the Grand Slam Indoor of Show Jumping: is there anything special you're planning to do to prepare for Hong Kong?
My programme won't be any different from the one I follow for all other major shows. I secretly dream of making it a double, but I know that it's going to be very difficult. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I'm hoping to get lucky on the weekend of the competition.
Until Paris, Eldorado van het Vijverhof had won many times in 1 m 45 to 1 m 50 grands prix; his victory at the Longines Grand Prix of Paris was his first at 1 m 60, what do you think particularly inspired your horse at the Longines Masters of Paris?
It's true that he hadn't previously won a five-star grand prix, although he had already successfully competed in quite a few. I've often been dogged by bad luck and I’ve had a few rounds with 4 faults. In Paris, luck was on my side and I won. Eldorado is now in a high level programme and has performed extremely well in the past three months.
For you personally, would you say that the three legs of the Longines Masters series are quite different from your normal season?
I haven’t actually been to Hong Kong or Los Angeles yet. Paris is a fantastic show with an incredible atmosphere. The dates for Hong Kong tend to coincide with when I'm preparing my young horses, but this year, I'm giving that a miss so I can go. For Los Angeles, it's a combination of circumstances: either my horses were on poor form, or they weren't experienced enough. I hope that this year, I'm finally going to be able to put Los Angeles on my agenda!
Are you proud that the Longines Masters are a Belgian product?
Definitely! I've always got a lot out of competing in France. I've always felt good there. I became better known in France during the 10 years that I rode for the Haras des Hayettes. Language has a lot to do with it and I feel very much at home there. The fact that the wonderful event in Paris was organised by a Belgian is the icing on the cake.