Better than London
By Martin Pütter
The aficionados of showjumping in Switzerland had reason to celebrate in summer 2012: Steve Guerdat had won gold at the Olympic Games in London. Whether the Swiss showjumper will triumph at the CSI Basel from January, 9 to 12, 2014, however, is completely open – the organisers say their field is better than that of the Olympic Summer Games, and thus the competition tougher than in London. The main reason is that the CSI Basel does not restrict the number of competitors per nation – at the Olympic Games each country may filed no more than four showjumpers.
Although Great Britain is fielding “only” three riders at the Basel event, they are top names: Scott Brash (number 1) and Ben Maher (2) are currently heading the world ranking, and they are joined by Michael Whitaker, whose many trophies include a silver medal won with Team GB at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. With 15 riders, Switzerland is fielding the largest number of competitors; they are led by Steve Guerdat (world ranking 6). France, with top riders Patrice Delaveau (8) and European Champion Roger Yves Bost (12), and Germany, with four times Olympic gold medal winner Ludger Beerbaum (3), are each sending six riders to Basel.
The main competition at this four-day event is the Grand Prix on Sunday, January, 12. However, the top riders will already be in action on the Thursday before, for example in the “Championnat der Stadt Basel”, where not only prize money is at stake but also a challenge trophy, the “Golden Drum” –underlining that the CSI is as much part of Basel as the legendary carnival drum.
Swiss television will be covering the main event on Sunday afternoon; details about the CSI Basel are available on the organisers’ website.