12|06|18 // Interview with national coach Hans Melzer

12 Weeks until WEG 2018, what is the selection process for the German team starting with Luhmühlen?

Most of the German championship riders are riding in Luhmühlen, Michi Jung is really the only one that isn’t as he only has one horse and she (fischerRocana FST ed.) will compete later on in the season. She has already done Vairano and Kentucky. Four weeks after Luhmühlen those who have competed in the CIC3* will ride in Aachen and the fiinal selection event will be in Strzegom three weeks later, so most of the candidates have another 2 or 3 events to complete in. Aachen is too soon for the horses that have done the 4* in Luhmühlen and the organisers in Strzegom kindly put back their event by one week so there is a three week break after Aachen. Three weeks after Strzegom the horses fly to the US and WEG 2018 starts one week later. Running up to a championship it is always good for the horses to compete in an event but it also good for the riders. The long list will be announced after Luhmühlen and will contain 15 names; we are allowed 5 starters and are can nominate 3 times this amount. It may be 15 riders and 15 horses or 10 riders and 15 horses. As we have done previously we will divide the nominees up into blocks to give the riders more of an idea as to where they stand and to help them with their planning. The actual team will be announced after Strzegom which takes place from 9 – 12.08.2018. Between Luhmühlen and Aachen there will be a long list training in Warendorf; just two days, one day cross country and the other day for the dressage test that will be ridden in Tryon.

Bundestrainer Hans Melzer 2018 German Eventing

Will there be a repeat of the cooperation with Andrew Nicholson or somebody similar?

We are not planning it at the moment. It didn’t’ work schedule wise for Andrew this year and he is working with the Australians. I also have to say most of our riders learnt so much from Chris it is not really necessary to have someone to walk the course with them.

The new dressage scoring without the coefficient, do you feel it is achieving what it was meant to achieve? Or how do you see this development?

In my opinion it was a bad decision because firstly you see how close together the dressage results are and secondly it makes the show jumping even more important than before. We can’t use Badminton as an example because the ground conditions were not good so that hardly anyone made the time. However under normal conditions those riders at the top after dressage will be good through the cross and inside the time, which leaves the show jumping as the deciding factor. It has always played a role but now it carries even more weight. Previously with the coefficient those who rode a very good dressage had a small bonus but this is now lost. 4 or 5 years ago as the half points were introduced we had a similar problem as the marks came closer together and now we have the problem again but much more extreme with perhaps just one or two tenths between riders. If you ask me the judges now have to start using the complete range of scores available to them and give 10s but also 2s so that the scores are no longer so close together. If you are unlucky in the show jumping and have just one pole down you can drop from 4th to 22nd place. In team competition it could end up with time faults in show jumping deciding the final result. It makes it all too show jumping dependant.

Do you think they will keep this new system if there is general criticism?

I see it from a German point of view, there is very little difference now between a really good dressage and a good dressage and that is not good. I am not sure if they really thought it through properly and what the real effect on the results would be. Of course we always try and take good show jumpers with us, but this year for WEG it has become a very important deciding factor.

There are a large number of German entries for the CIC3* in Luhmühlen this year is there a particular reason?

During the past couple of years we have made it clear to the riders we would like them to ride the national championships and this year they are all here except for Michi Jung. This means of course it will be a really good competition and whoever wins will really be the German champion.

We haven’t had rain for 6 weeks, how is the ground holding up in Luhmühlen?

We have a huge advantage as we have the use of large agricultural spray irrigation equipment and have been regularly watering the main areas of the course as well as exercise areas etc. This means that the grass has had a chance to grow and the ground underneath has remained in good condition.

Final question – who do you see on the podium in the 4*?

we haven’t really got any experienced horses starting, in fact 4 are doing their first 4* and although Andreas Dibowski is a very experienced rider his horse is not easy in the dressage. I expect good results from the others but I see Nicola Wilson and Bulana as favourites, they were 2nd here last year and 3rd in the Europeans, there is no doubt they are a super combination!

Interview + photo: Heather Reimer