I was recently at a clinic, where both Paul Tapner and Sam Griffiths were teaching and I was able to have a quick catch up with the pair of them to find out what is on the horizon for the pair.
‘Paulank Brockagh will be aimed at the Olympics. Even though it’s a long way off and lots can happen, in the mean time she is first choice. She is so reliable, top 10 in both 4* this year. I have worked really hard at the dressage on her and it’s getting better and better. Ironically it was the cross country where she is normally so good and fast at that was a bit slow at Burghley this year. There is a chance that Paulank Brockagh will not go to Badminton and might be saved for the Olympics.’
‘All my horses have time off now, they have about 6 weeks off to have a good break. They come back into work in December/January depending on what they are doing.’
Common mistakes amateurs make – ‘ They try too hard to get a perfect stride, instead of concentrating on what will get a good stride, which is the canter and balance. On top of that horses can be amazing when they are given the freedom to do what they can do so sometimes people get too hooked up on getting a stride and then restrict the horses too much particularly with the reins when it comes to jumping. If you have a good canter and are quite free with the horse then it’s amazing what they can do.’
On the Australian Federation – ‘they will pick the best riders who have the best chance of a medal and if they are in Europe then they will pick them from Europe. We have a couple of really good riders in Australia but like us they have to put the performance on the board and get picked. The Australians are tough, they won’t play the political game. The best competitions are now in Europe but it’s a lifestyle choice to come over here and I can accept that not everyone wants to make that choice and wants to stay in Australia. I chose to come to the UK to follow my profession. There is a still a long way to go for the Olympics but on the day we could have a really good team. We are actually a really close unit which is great.’
Up and coming – ‘Angelo IV, the horse I had at Boekelo is a really good horse, I just had an unlucky mistake on him but he could be a really top horse. I have a couple of really nice 1 and 2* horses. Angelo IV will go 3* again next year and hopefully get a good result.’
The loss of long format – ‘At Badminton after cross country there are now about half the amount of lame horses than there were after long format. That has to be better for the sport? Who wants to watch roads and tracks?’
On incremental gains – ‘I have been concentrating on the small areas of the game and I have a lot of advanced horses so it’s trying to get the best out of them in all three phases. Getting a few extra % in every phase to keep improving and looking at details.’
Fitness – ‘now that we (Sam & Paul) are getting older we have to work harder on our own fitness not just on the horses. We probably both do more cardio, I do a lot of running. I felt that was necessary. You have to be both supple and fit. You cannot afford to be tired on the last day of a three day.’
‘It’s usually the Saturday night that gets you tired Tappers?’
Winter Plans – ‘Most of my horses are coming back in which is rather scary, they have already had their break. We have some that are on a break, some coming back in. They have 6 weeks off . They tend to get staggered.’
Paul does a lot of show jumping and said that this is probably going to increase this winter. Sam agreed with Paul.
Next Season – ‘I have the same team of horses that I had this year and it is the best team of horses that I have ever had. It’s been a season where nothing has gone phenomenally well but nor has anything gone drastically wrong and ideally I need to fix that and make sure I get some fantastic results. I keep saying that it’s the best team of horses I have ever had so I need to pull my finger out and prove it with the results.’
‘Kilronan will still be No 1 next season. He has the most experience. They are all advanced so they are all capable of doing something spectacular so will see what happens. Prince Mayo will hopefully go to Tattersalls and get a really good result along with King of Rogues. They are the only two I have on my team that I have not got qualified for the Olympics. Everything else I have got qualified. They are probably the two hopefuls for medals and it’s handy having the other four qualified as well but they are the two who are very capable.’
On the FEI wanting to introduce 5 penalties for knocking flags – ‘I was very rude about flags at Boekelo so hoping to have quashed that. I went in all guns blazing saying this is ridiculous. Hopefully my point was proven. I know they have recently had a meeting and I am pretty confident that they have heard that nobody wants the 5 penalties.’
Common mistake made by amateurs? – ‘getting the speed wrong, either too fast or too slow.’