A CSI5* such as the LGCT-LPEJ, it is a mixture between a flawless organization, the best riders and horses in the world, but also cleverly measured courses. For this last point, it is the French track master Grégory Bodo who will be in charge of creating the tracks.
A true architect of the competition, the Frenchman Gregory Bodo is for the first time head of the LGCT-LPEJ. He is a marketing teacher during the week and returns to the competition tracks at the weekends. At the age of eighteen, he was setting up his first official course, he is now in demand for high-level competitions. His experience as a rider in competition on events at 1.30m has given him a lot of knowledge, such as mastering the horse's mechanism, its behaviour and the relationship with the animal. For Gregory, being a good track leader is first and foremost about respecting the integrity of the horse and preserving its well-being. His work consists in designing courses according to different criteria such as the level of the event, the riders and horses, the terrain, the scale and the rules. It must find a balance by proposing difficulties in order to decide between the best.
Five questions to Gregory Bodo
You are recognized in your profession and you are the track leader of many international competitions... what does it mean for you to climb the track of the Longines Global Champions Tour - Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping?
Indeed, it will be a first for me to go up the track of this competition. However, this will be the second competition of the Longines Global Champions Tour where I have the chance to be the track leader, after Cannes last week. Speaking on a competition like the LGCT-LPEJ is something very important to me, I am really honoured. Moreover, the organisation of the competition gives me all the confidence I need, so it is a great satisfaction. Finally, participating in an event of this importance is for me an opportunity to reach, even more closely, the international scene at a high level.
You are known for setting up courses that truly respect the integrity of the horse, how do you manage to remain in this perspective while putting technical difficulties for five-star events, the highest level in the world?
There is no secret, you have to adapt. Indeed, the level of progress of horses and riders has only improved in recent years, so it is necessary to think ahead to propose courses that can create fault and find the right balance. It is one of the most complicated things, to find the right balance of difficulty without putting the horses to work. To achieve this, I analyze a lot, I look at how horses work. My first principle is to propose courses in the forward movement, so I make sure to apply it to all the competitions I attend. In short, I try to force the riders to enter their course by moving forward from the starting line, by imposing a certain rhythm on their horses. This forward movement will partly generate the so-called "natural" fault, and it is this that I am looking for. I will give difficulty in the technical aspect, in terms of distances, obstacle configuration or lightness. I like to do courses that require some thought on the part of the rider, but without ever putting the horses to the test.
Do you already have ideas for the LGCT-LPEJ?
I already have some ideas for the beginning of the course that are taking shape, but nothing concrete for the moment. I have some bases that are linked to the first day of the Global Champions League and I have also started to progress on the Grand Prix course. But to date, nothing has been finalized.
For large deadlines like this, are there any elements that must be considered?
These deadlines are not prepared like other competitions, like nationals. There are really many elements to take into account: parameters such as sponsors, timing, media, television are to be anticipated in advance. The organizers must have the plans with the distribution of obstacles, climbs and dimensions a few days before the start of the competition. I must also respect constraints related to the Longines Global Champions Tour, for example in terms of the number of Longines obstacles on the track. There are also shows between events, so I must also take them into account so as not to disturb them with course changes. There are many details to think about in order to make everything work for the best.
What do you think are the particularities of this trail?
I was invited three years ago to the LGCT-LPEJ track as an assistant but I have not returned since. I know that this is a special track, because it is one of the most cramped on the circuit, like the one in Cannes for example. That is to say, for an outdoor competition, it is a fairly confined track. As a result, the routes are not easy to trace. I like that there is galloping on the towers I ride and on a small track it is not always easy. So I also have to work on this aspect, which is to propose the most suitable courses on an outdoor track of this format.