Tales of horses and riders who triumphed at WEG will undoubtedly continue to pour out of Normandy in the coming weeks, and Camilla Spiers and Portersize Just A Jiff are one such combination on top of the world today. After coming up short on cross country at both the 2010 Lexington WEG and the 2012 London Olympics, Camilla and Jiff stormed around Pierre Michelet’s course clear on Saturday, one of 37 horses — or just 42 percent of the starters — to accomplish that feat.
A little guy at just 15.1 hands, Jiff is registered with the Irish Sport Horse Studbook, but he’s actually by the full Connemara Pony stallion Crosskeys Rebel, and out of Mizen Talent, an Irish Sport Horse mare. And his gutsy pony breeding came out in spades on cross-country day, when he pulled off this rather nimble scramble through the first water complex:
We caught up with Camilla after show jumping on Sunday to talk about what it was like to tackle the monster course: “The track was really up to to a full-height standard four-star. We didn’t quite expect the carnage that was caused. The ground was so influential with all the rain, then the sun dried it out and it was holding, so there were a lot of very tired horses,” Camilla said.
As for the 50,000-strong crowd that packed Haras du Pin to watch the action, Camilla agreed she’d never seen anything quite like it. “The crowds were amazing. I always find the French crowds are really encouraging. They create a really great atmosphere,” she said. “And especially in a course that tough, when you’re pulling to the final water, which was probably the most influential fence, the crowds are there to spur you on and keep the horse alert as well.”
Though Jiff had an uncharacteristic refusal in show jumping on Sunday, Camilla still finished 32nd, and she said he’s a hero in her eyes: “Jiff made his comeback, his first championships since London, so it was a very special sort of occasion for me personally, and he came out there and showed everyone just how amazing he really is.
“After London, we didn’t even know if we would ever be able to compete him again. He’s a bit of a hero in everyone’s eyes, in my eyes anyways, to come back and do one of the biggest, toughest world championships there’s been in a long time,” Camilla said.
Many thanks to Camilla for chatting after show jumping, and be sure to watch our full interview below for more on their scrappy trip through the first water complex, as well as whether we’ll be seeing Jiff at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as the Irish team finished sixth to get an automatic ticket to Brazil. Go Camilla, and Go Jiff.