Thrilling jumps, technical distances, and precise timings. These are some of the perplexities that showjumpers face in top level competitions. Gregory Bodo, a CSI5* International Course Designer, is the mastermind behind the thrilling courses you get to witness during the Brussels Stephex Masters. His passion lies in creating detail oriented and unified courses that push riders and horses to their limits. “Riders need to be alert from start to finish. Not a single obstacle should be overlooked”, he shares. With a relentless pursuit of fresh ideas, Bodo ensures an unforgettable experience that keeps the audience captivated and riders filled with excitement throughout the event.
Considering last year’s CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix Presented by Audi course design, were there some specifically challenging jumps?
Gregory Bodo: “At this level it is our aim to design a course with uniform penalties on all obstacles. According to the statistics gathered at last year’s Brussels Stephex Masters, there was a fault on every single fence. No fence was left untouched.”
Can you describe your motive in the placement of jumps? Why are they so technical?
Gregory: “In last year’s CSI5* Rolex Grand Prix my goal was to find the perfect balance in the placement of fences. The competition arena ground was not completely flat. This involved a loss of balance, adding a level of technicality to the course.”
“The distances between jumps play a big role in rider mistakes. Last year, the distance to the double Audi (vertical to oxer)forced riders to make seven open strides.Eithertheverticaloroneoftheoxer’spoles were bound to fall. Another tricky line was riding eight strides from a two-meter-wide triple bar to a liverpool with shiny golden poles.”
What makes a course challenging/fun?
Gregory: “Nowadays course designing is an accumulation of details. Each detail carries its own secret. When using all parameters such as a variety of jumps, the overall course profile, the color of the fences, the time allowed, the quality of footing, the starting list, and so on, a course can go from good to fantastic. However, what I find vital is to have a conversation with the riders. It is important to ask questions and never overlook the efforts for the horses.”
Tell us about your biggest joy in designing the course
Gregory: “I am very pleased with all courses during Brussels Stephex Masters. The horses jump great from Wednesday to Sunday. The atmosphere is good, the footing is of the highest quality, and I really appreciate the grass field. The ring also has a unique shape. I really like it.”
Considering this years Brussels Stephex Masters CSIO5* Henders & Hazel Nations Cup and CSIO5* Rolex Grand Prix presented by Audi, what are you looking forward to the most?
Gregory: “The approach for the two competitions is different. Firstly, because one is a team and the other is an individual competition. Secondly because the Nations Cup runs with two identical rounds. Fifteen fences with some technical sequences are ridden twice. Faults occur naturally. In a Grand Prix we can propose a more delicate course. However, the priority is to see great sport, horses jumping at their best, and a lot of emotion.”