Riccardo Pisani and Chaclot, a duo on the rise
In the last two seasons, Riccardo Pisani has exploded onto the international scene and has become one of the pillars of the Italian team. He’s a revelation that owes as much of his success to his phenomenal mount Chaclot as he does to Jos Lansink, who has enabled the pair to progress to the highest level. We meet up with Riccardo and his wife, Silvia Bazzani, herself an international rider, in their family’s oasis in Lombardy.
When did you start riding?
When I was 6 years old. My mother loved horses, and I started riding at the Scuderia delle Capinera, a stable 25 minutes away from here. There are many local riders who started out there, because it’s a large stable that has a lot of ponies. I started competing at 8 years old, and got my first pony at 10 years old. Then, my pony was moved to a stable closer to home. At 14, my parents built a stable and that's when I really got involved with horses. I rode ponies until I was 16, and that’s when I got my first owner: he gave me a pony to ride during the Europeans. Then I got my first offer to work for someone, the Scuderia Etrea. It wasn’t easy, because I had to study as well. But the National Federation also gave me horses to ride, including Dionisos (Pitchoum Trefle), with whom I competed in Nations Cups and won the Italian Junior Championship. That's how my first years in the sport went. When school was over, I started my own business. I worked in the same stable for 8 years, where I had customers and owners.
Did you always know you wanted to be a professional rider?
Yes, that has always been my goal. As soon as I began riding ponies, I knew I wanted to make this sport my profession.
And then you met your wife...
Yes, 13 years ago I met Silvia. We already knew each other, because she had started going to the same pony club as me. She competed in eventing, so we lost touch with each other for a while. After we got married in 2008, we moved here to my father-in-law’s stables. We also live onsite. It’s a private stable, which is divided into several parts. There’s the competition horse stable, a stable for breeding racehorses that my father-in-law has bred. We started by buying young horses to train up to the highest level. One of the first ones we bought is called Chico Z (Coriano). We tried him in a little arena in Holland. He was incredibly tall, but as soon as we tried him, we loved him. We trained him up little by little and he has already jumped the Grand Prix of Rome twice and several Nations Cups.
And you, Silvia, did you grow up in these stables?
No, I grew up about an hour and a half from here. My father bought this property 20 years ago. At first, I only had 3 or 4 event horses, which is a discipline that I’ve practiced for a long time. I lived in England for three years and was short-listed for the Athens Olympic Games, but my horse got injured. I did a few more eventing seasons, but when we got married, I had a great showjumper in our stables, so I decided to change disciplines.
So, you’ve never left Italy to ride?
Apart from my time in England, no. It's so true that your home is always your home. I feel really good there. However, I think that Riccardo has had such a great season because we decided to go to Belgium for several months. I don't think that could have happened if we had stayedhere.
Riccardo Pisani: In Italy, we have big competitions up until May. After that, you have to travel. But above all, we found the right person that gave us what we needed to get to the top: Jos Lansink.
Is Jos Lansink the person who has played the most important role in your career?
Yes, undoubtedly. I have been trained by good coaches before, but someone of Jos' stature is hard to find. Mentally, he’s very strong. Of course, he also has exceptional respect for horses. He thinks of everything, he knows exactly what he wants for each horse. He considers each horse a full-blown athlete. Sometimes you tend to do everything too quickly. Jos, on the other hand, checks everything. He has changed the way I think. We were very lucky to be able to work with him.
How did it all start?
We were at a competition in Mâcon and I was talking to Darragh Kenny. I told him I was looking for a coach to help me get to the next level and he said, "Believe me, Jos is the one for you. Darragh, who is one of the best riders in the world, has worked with him from time to time. So I called Jos and he said he’d help right away. He came to Italy, he wanted to see our facilities, horses, team and the way we managed our stables. Then, in October 2017, we were able to spend a month with him at his home. He trained us daily, nothing escapes him. With Chaclot, Jos was really important. He has had a lot of success with horses like him that are tall and have a lot of power, like Cumano (San Patrignano Cassini).
Did it give you confidence being around this great horseman?
Yes, he’s really focused on technique at home, but in competitions, he makes everything easier. When we’re walking a course, he doesn’t say a million things, just a few little things that are enough to make a difference.
Does he accompany you during the big competitions?
Unfortunately not. You can’t forget that he has two incredible riders in his stable, Frank Schuttert and Pieter Clemens. We're trying to compete in the same competitions. But now we know how it all works, so we can manage on our own at competitions. However, every week we send him videos and have a debrief.
Besides the technical aspects, we know that with a coach, how well you work together is also very important.
Yes, that's for sure. When you arrive in his stables, you see all these pictures of his successes and his 12 medals and obviously that’s very impressive. But when you start talking to him, he's so nice, and easygoing. He's a fantastic person. He never makes you feel the pressure of all of his accomplishments. Silvia: He has a wonderful personality, and a great sense of humor. But when you ride with him, be prepared to sweat! Joking aside, he's definitely a real horseman.
Tell us about the role your family plays...
They are my most important source of support. My wife is really central to my success, and as she also competes, we share everything. I can talk to her anytime about horses, training, competitions. It's fabulous. And we’re fortunate enough to have two passionate children, Andreas, nine, and Iris, seven. Our son is very enthusiast at competitions, he pushes us to give 200%. Sometimes he’s the most disappointed of us all if things don't go as well as we’d hoped. Both of them are also riding ponies and are already out competing.
To be continued tomorrow...