Jumping chef d’equipe Helena Stormanns and the Kiwi team may not have had the finish they wanted at WEG but there were still plenty of positives to take away, and for the German-based-Brit, particularly the ethos of her charges.
Since she started working with them at the Nations Cup final in Barcelona last year, she has seen her riders come along in all sorts of ways. “The Kiwis are a fantastic group,” she says.
It appears the feeling is mutual though as the riders clearly like having her around too. “They pull together, they are there for each other, they are always thinking of each other and they are always helping. They are great characters . . . they are super people,” said Helena. “And they have good supporters too with lovely parents and families. The whole group is a pleasure to work with, a real pleasure.”
She hosted Sam McIntosh, Daniel Meech and Bruce Goodin at her base in Germany as part of the build-up to WEG. There she threw down a mighty challenge, getting her mother-in-law Christa Heibach, an international 5* course designer in on the action.
“I had her draw up a very good course with an open water with a distance after it, with a double of verticals, a big triple bar . . .with all the things I was imaging would be in the course (at WEG).”
Her husband Tim built the course and the challenge was set. “They probably didn’t know what they were expecting but I had it clear in my mind what they needed to do to test the horses over a full course,” said Helena. “It was to blow the weaknesses out into the open so we could then spend time working on them . . . and that worked very well. They rose to that challenge . . . but they did need a little bit of vocal encouragement at one stage. They are all grown up and if you are in this sport, you have had a few knocks so you aren’t going to worry about me shouting at you!”
Helena said it was essential to “shake things up a little” before a champs because it was most certainly going to get a shake-up at them. “So I would rather have this fairly tough dress rehearsal which we did and I think we ironed out a lot of problems that could have become problems . . . that they probably didn’t even know were there. They are like invisible cobwebs that you have to find.”
She was very pleased with the training camp and felt all the horses had profited. But the star for her was Fine. “She came along in leaps and bounds, and Sam’s horse also profited. He was a little bit rude today . . . it was a pity. He suddenly got very strong and ran away a bit and ran Sam into trouble. It happens, they are animals.”
She had nothing but praise for course designer Alan Wade (IRE). “They were fabulous. Brilliant. Technical. Clever. There is no fluking it around there. I think the courses are great – they are testing but not killing. You don’t see bad things happening – you see faults, but it is showjumping. Clear rounds are supposed to be hard to get.”
She felt Bruce Goodin and Backatorps Danny V had been unlucky and luck had not been on the side of US-based Sharn Wordley and Casper. Helena also coaches Israeli team member Danielle Goldstein who is competing aboard Lizziemary and at the end of today sat in third place heading into Sunday’s final.
By Diana Dobson, NZ team media liaison
Photo by Libby Law Photography