A rising star in the field, Iñigo Lopez de la Osa Franco (aged 17) was bound to compete at Jumping International in Monte-Carlo this week. On Thursday evening, once the first day of the competition came to an end and the heat died down, the Monégasque rider gave us a few minutes of his time.
What does it mean to you to represent the Principality here at Jumping International in Monte-Carlo?
I’m very proud of competing at home. I know everyone here and that’s really motivating for me. In terms of confidence, I’ve never felt better, the public is so supportive. I’m going to try and give it my all and put in a really good performance.
Monaco gave me the opportunity to compete for them with the Juniors in the European Championships.
How has this season been for you so far?
At the start of the season, I was still competing for Spain, but then Monaco gave me the opportunity to compete for them with the Juniors in the European Championships. It was in April that I really started to train hard for the competition, with my two team mates Kristina Klebanova and Anastasia Nielsen. We all want to do well in the European Championships this summer. That’s our goal. We’re going to give it our best shot and prepare for them as much as possible.
What are your hopes for the future?
Like all athletes, I have dreams. I take each competition one at a time, but one day I’d love to make it to the top and become one of Monaco’s five star horse riders. And why not compete in the Olympic Games too?
We’re sure you must still look up to the other riders…
Of course. They’re role models. I train with them and also regularly with Jos Verlooy, one of the top 15 riders in the world. He’s incredible. Being with them every day and going to events is just amazing. I learn so much from them.
How did you get into show jumping?
I started when I was 11. My dad also rode horses. It’s thanks to him that I got into the sport, back in San Remo. After that we bought some land, near Ventimiglia, and built stables. I loved it from the off. I then competed with the Spanish team in the Nations Cup for both the Children and Juniors. Show jumping is my passion, I want to make a career out of it.
I’m going to university in Eindhoven to study industrial engineering.
What do the next few weeks look like for you?
I’m about to start university in September. I’m going to Eindhoven to study industrial engineering. The Netherlands is great for show jumping, it’ll be good for my career.
Tell us about your horse, Sultan de Beaufour…
(Smiling) Sultan? He does his own thing, he’s calm and independent. You could leave the doors open all night and he wouldn’t go anywhere. In the paddock though, he gallops. He’s a lion.
How long have you been competing together?
We bought him in 2014. At the time, my dad entered small competitions with him. Straight away he noticed there was something special about him and decided to entrust him to Simon Delestre. He went on to take part in the five-star Grand Prix with him and was even pre-selected for the World Equestrian Games in the United States. I was lucky enough to get him back though and it didn’t take long to get used to riding together again. I’ve been riding Sultan de Beaufour every weekend for a few years now.