Tag Archives: Martin Fuchs

Swiss Steal the Show at St Gallen

Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei (FEI/Martin Dokoupil)

They’d been waiting a long time – a full 26 years since last topping the line-up on home ground at the Grundenmoos Arena – so the Swiss victory in the first leg of the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup 2022 Europe Division 1 series at St Gallen was extra-sweet.

Even though they were lying equal-second with The Netherlands and Norway carrying eight faults at the halfway stage of the eight-nation contest, Michel Sorg’s side was filled with confidence. In the end, three second-round clears wrapped it up.

Whip hand

Great Britain had the whip hand at the halfway stage when, with only the best three scores counting for each team, they could drop one of the four-fault efforts posted by Joseph Stockdale (Equine America Caaharel) and Jack Whitaker (Equine America Valmy de la Lane), because pathfinder Harry Charles (Casquo Blue) and anchorman John Whitaker (Equine America Unick du Francport) were both foot-perfect.

But Stockdale was the only member of Di Lampard’s side to keep a clean sheet second time out when they were forced to add eight faults to their scoreline for a final tally of 12. And The Netherlands’ Jack Ansems (Fliere Fluiter), Sanne Thijssen (Con Quidam RB), Jur Vrieling (Long John Silver), and Marc Houtzager (Sterrehof’s Dante) overtook them for runner-up spot when finishing on the same score but in a quicker time.

Team Germany finished fourth on 16 faults, Belgium finished fifth ahead of Brazil with a faster 20-fault result, Norway racked up 24 for seventh spot, and Austria finished eighth and last on a total of 28.

Pressure

It came right down to the last rider into the ring to decide the result, all the pressure piling onto the capable shoulders of the legendary John Whitaker who could force a jump-off with the eventual winners if he could steer a second clear course over Gerard Lachat’s 12-fence track. Both Harry Charles and his nephew Jack Whitaker had collected four faults apiece this time out, but if Uncle John could add another zero to Stockdale’s clear, then it would go to a third-round head-to-head to decide the result.

It was looking really good until Unick du Francport clipped the middle element of the triple combination, leaving the cool, calm Swiss clear winners, adding nothing more to their first-round scoreline.

They were favourites from the outset, and the double-clear posted by pathfinders Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei proved pivotal. The Swiss star, who turns 30 next month and who recently added the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ title to the individual European gold medal he bagged last September, produced two spectacular rounds, while team-mate, 20-year-old Edouard Schmitz, followed a first-round mistake with Quon at the first element of the double at fence four with a brilliant run at their second attempt.

Pius Schwizer was looking foot-perfect until lowering the final two fences in round one, but produced a copybook second effort with Vancouver de Lanlore. The enthusiastic spectators gasped in disbelief when Swiss anchor Steve Guerdat made it all the way to the last with Venard du Cerisy in round one only for that to fall, and as it happened, the 2012 Olympic champion didn’t need to jump again because the job was done and dusted.

History-making

There was a real sense of history-making and Fuchs was delighted to be part of it. “Whenever I was on the team in St Gallen we never won, but we said this year now we have to win, and finally we did it!

“We were confident because Edoaurd’s horse jumped really well and Pius’ horse too, and we changed his plan for the second round to put an extra stride in the last line. And Steve had one rail at the last fence, so we all thought he would deliver in the second round, but in the end, he didn’t need to go,” he explained.

Lachat’s course certainly played its part, the line from fences six to eight proving particularly influential. “After the water jump (fence 6), there was the plank and then a short five strides to a liverpool oxer – you needed good rideability and a careful horse, and you needed scope for the oxer, so this kind of asked everything of the horse and rider,” he pointed out.

Big moment

It was a big moment posting this historic result in front of the home crowd.

“We knew we had a strong team as we were already good in the Grand Prix. I think the crowd knew that as well and they really cheered for us this afternoon. This is an amazing feeling. I felt my horse was super today and I’m happy we could contribute to this home win!” Fuchs added, while Schmitz said, “I will never forget this day!”

Guerdat was quietly happy with the result too. “I’m now a little older, so my fault at the last fence in the first round bothered me a little less than it used to! In the Nations Cup at the end, it is the team result that counts and it worked out today. It has been a great show, with great public, perfect organisation, and very nice courses from Gerard. We will have nice memories from this weekend for sure!” he said.

Swiss Chef d’Equipe Michel Sorg also had plenty to be happy about. “Edouard was already good in the Grand Prix at La Baule a few weeks ago and again here on Saturday – I am really happy that he confirmed that here today and I’m really proud of all my team!” he said.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Fuchs Wins the Title with the Horse of His Heart

(L to R) runner-up Harrie Smolders (NED), winner Martin Fuchs (SUI), and third-placed Jens Fredricson (SWE). (FEI/Richard Juilliart)

Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs was rightly proud when standing top of the podium as winner of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2022 Final in Leipzig, Germany. He came so close to clinching the trophy at the last Final in 2019 when slotting in behind his compatriot and three-time champion Steve Guerdat, and as he said, “I’ve been a couple of times second in Championships, and you obviously have it in mind you could be second again with the best riders in the world coming after me today.”

But in the end, he and his trusty steed Chaplin were the only ones in the leading pack to stand firm in the closing stages. Chaplin gave him everything, and more, over two rounds of tough jumping in which only three of the 30 starters left both courses intact. When Sweden’s Jens Fredricson was one of those, he finished third behind The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders who claimed the second step of the podium.

Held the lead

America’s McLain Ward held the lead as the final day began, but a first-round error with Contagious left the 2017 champion vulnerable. He shared a four-fault tally with Smolders as the second round got underway, with Fuchs stalking the two of them carrying just five and on level pegging with young British star Harry Charles riding Romeo.

But a pole off the first element of the triple combination second time out saw Charles lose his grip, and when Smolders’ gelding, Monaco, clipped the following vertical, then Fuchs was quickly moving up the order.

Ward had no leeway now when last to go; any mistake would see his advantage unravel, and when his 13-year-old gelding lowered the middle element of the triple combination and also the white planks three fences from home, Fuchs had it in the bag, becoming only the fourth Swiss rider in the long history of the FEI Jumping World Cup series to hold the trophy aloft.

He rode Chaplin in Thursday’s first competition but swapped for The Sinner in Friday’s second leg. “After having a rail down on Friday, I wasn’t so sure I had made the right plan. But then I was still sitting in third place, so I thought two clear rounds with Chaplin on Sunday and we’ll be on the podium.

“That I end up winning this prestigious and historical competition obviously is a dream come true. All the best of the best riders’ names are written on this trophy and now to add mine is fantastic!” he said. He is the second member of the Fuchs family to win it; his uncle Markus Fuchs took the title with the brilliant Tinka’s Boy back in 2001.

Upset

Talking about losing his lead in Friday’s competition but somehow holding on for victory, he said, “When I came out on Friday, I walked to the warm-up and was pretty upset, but then Steve said, ‘Congratulations, now you must win on Sunday after what you did today!’ In hindsight when I looked at the video of my round, I was very happy, though obviously I was a bit lucky that I ended the course with these four points. It was a good plan that Chaplin had two days of rest and came back today to produce two clear rounds”

This was Smolders’ second time to finish in runner-up spot; his last was partnering Emerald back in 2016 when Guerdat posted the first of his three wins. But the Dutchman was delighted with his horse. “This was his first Championship, and I wasn’t sure how it would be. We knew he could do it one day, but over three days it’s a totally different story. He was coping with it very easily, so I think this won’t be his last Championship,” the delighted Dutchman said.

Plenty to celebrate

Meanwhile, Jens Fredricson also had plenty to celebrate. The older brother of Swedish phenomenon Peder Fredricson never touched a pole, and although others may have been surprised to see him on the podium, he wasn’t a bit surprised himself. He was lying ninth as the day began, and he and his horse, Markan Cosmopolit, were in spectacular form.

“I had great expectations actually and I enjoyed every second; it’s fantastic to be here doing what I love!” he said.

He describes himself as a “hobby rider” but his CV would suggest he’s long been a serious contender with a lifetime of international successes behind him. “I work at Flyinge and Stromsholm. I’m responsible for the next generation of riding instructors in Sweden,” he explained.

His last time at an FEI World Cup Final was on home ground in Gothenburg in 2013, and he admitted he’s made quite a few changes to his riding style since then. Partly due to the influence of his younger brother, Peder.

“I had the advantage of watching him going up to World No. 1. We talked almost every day so even if I wasn’t at the shows, I was there mentally. I followed his thinking and his development and I tried to do the same things, and I’ve changed a little bit my approach to the fences, and I now have a horse with very big scope. So I can sit a bit more still and have a better style. Before I used to throw my heart over and then we went over together; now when I look at the videos of my riding and it looks quite okay! I’m blessed that I have such good contact with my little brother. One of the most fantastic things in our sport is that I’m 55 years old and getting better every day. If I was running 100 metres, I would be less good every day!” he said with a laugh.

He also pointed out how great it is to see the younger generation rising through the ranks. “You want young riders coming up; there are some in their 20s like Jack (Whitaker, GBR) and Harry (Charles, GBR) and others. It’s important to have positive young riders coming along with good horses; that’s how the sport develops and gets better,” he pointed out.

Biggest names

Fuchs of course is one of those, not yet 30 but already one of the very biggest names in the sport. Over the last five years he has rarely been off the podium at any of the majors, taking individual silver at the FEI World Equestrian Games in 2018, runner-up at the last World Cup Final in 2019, and following with individual European gold that same year before taking team gold and individual silver at the FEI European Championships in 2021. Now he’s topped all that by taking the trophy every rider treasures: the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.

And he did it with the big, brave, and charming Chaplin who he calls “the horse of my heart!” Many of the Swiss rider’s biggest wins were achieved with his brilliant grey Clooney who he describes as “a superstar and the most talented horse I’ve ever had.” But Chaplin is also super-special.

“He is just the biggest fighter; he doesn’t have the ability that Clooney has, but at the end he always gives everything. It was nice in the past few weeks because we got a lot of photos of his first foals, because last year he started breeding with some mares, so in the last two weeks we have a lot of pictures of new Chaplin babies so that was exciting. And now to come here and win the World Cup Final with him….”

For sure that is a dream come true.

Result here.

by Louise Parkes

Media contact:

Shannon Gibbons
Manager, Media Relations & Media Operations
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 46

Martin Fuchs Wins the VDL Groep Prize

(Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder)

The organisers of The Dutch Masters delivered world-class sport on the opening day of the first Rolex Grand Slam Major of the year. The VDL Groep Prize was the highlight of the day with Rolex Grand Slam live contender, Martin Fuchs (SUI), maintaining his top form aboard The Sinner to claim the title. Daniel Deusser set the pace as first to go in the jump-off finishing eventual second with his Rolex Grand Prix horse, Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z.

The course designed by Louis Konickx proved challenging, with only nine horse and rider combinations, representing five nations, reaching the jump-off to battle it out under the bright lights of the Brabanthallen’s main arena. The return of spectators for the first time since 2019 was especially welcomed by the strong contingent of Dutch riders, who received a roaring echo of cheers as they entered the ring, but in the end, it was Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs who dominated the class to start his ‘The Dutch Masters’ quest in spectacular fashion.

Congratulations! What was the course like to ride?

It was a very good course; there were a lot of faults everywhere, but the course designer did a very good job. It was great to perform in front of the crowd here and I am very happy with my round.

Tell us a little bit about The Sinner.

The Sinner has always been very competitive from when I first got him, even when I wasn’t so used to him. Now we’ve had some very nice jump-offs together, so this gives me a lot of confidence entering a big jump-off knowing that my horse is able to do it, knowing what we are able to do it together, so it’s possible to make a plan and that plan went well today.

You are the live contender, and have started your bid to continue your Rolex Grand Slam journey very well. Does this give you extra confidence ahead of the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday?

It’s very nice to start The Dutch Masters with a win in the big class. For the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday, I will be riding Conner Jei, who is fairly green and new at this level, but I’m very excited and looking forward to it. He hasn’t done too much indoor work recently, but he is a wonderful horse, and I am hoping to continue our Rolex Grand Slam journey with a win on Sunday.

Read more here.

© 2022 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

Inside the Rolex Grand Slam – The Dutch Masters Preview

Harrie Smolders at The Dutch Masters 2021. Photo: The Dutch Masters / Digitshots.

The Dutch Masters returns from 11-13 March and will play host to the first Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of the year. The three-day show will culminate with the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday, where the world’s best show jumping combinations, including seven of the world’s top 10 ranked riders, will be vying to claim the prestigious trophy and become the new live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. The bright lights of the Brabanthallen will once again shine on the famous arena as crowds are welcomed back to witness world-class equestrian action.

Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – Rider Watch

The current live contender Martin Fuchs will be looking to secure a win in the Rolex Grand Prix to continue his quest to become only the second rider to win the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. Following his historic win at the CHI Geneva 2021, in which he was the first person to win back-to-back Rolex Grands Prix, the on-form Swiss will ride Chaplin. The bay stallion is an indoor specialist, has many Grands Prix wins under his belt already, and is armed with the agility and experience to succeed in the tight Brabanthallen arena.

Daniel Deusser is looking to secure the bonus for winning two Rolex Grands Prix out of four, after his win aboard Killer Queen VDM at CHIO Aachen in 2021. The German who has spent the majority of the year out in Florida competing in the Winter Equestrian Festival, will ride Scuderia 1918 Tobago Z, who is an expert indoor horse. Deusser has previously won the Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters twice before, so will be looking to capture a third to secure the 250,000 Euro bonus. Following on from his victory at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’, Swiss rider Steve Guerdat will also be aiming for the same bonus.

Last year’s victor Max Kühner returns with all the knowledge of how to win amongst a top-class field at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. The Austrian will bring a strong team of horses to The Dutch Masters, with either last year’s winning horse Elektric Blue P or Eic Coriolis des Isles as his choice for Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix.

Current reigning Olympic individual champion and World No. 5 Ben Maher finished last year off in exceptional fashion with a win at CHI Geneva in the Rolex IJRC Top Ten Final aboard the infamous Explosion W. The British star who has also based himself out in Florida for the winter season, will return to Europe to contest The Rolex Grand Prix in ‘s-Hertogenbosch for the first-time aboard the striking chestnut gelding, who was born approximately 10 kilometres away from the world-renowned Brabanthallen.

Compatriot Scott Brash, the only rider to claim the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, will be aiming to restart his quest to win the elusive title once more. The Dutch Masters is the only one of the four majors that has eluded Brash, so he will be sure to bring his top horse to win this prestigious class.

Rounding off a strong contingent of British riders is the up-and-coming Harry Charles. Following a stellar end to the year in 2021, the 22-year-old is now the Under-25 World No. 1, and will be looking to claim his first Rolex Grand Prix. Will one of these riders be able to become the first British winner since Robert Smith’s victory in 2003?

The home crowd will be hoping to see Harrie Smolders do one better than his second-place finish in the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva in 2021. The Dutch fans will be sure to be alight with excitement when Smolders enters the arena. The Dutchman will be joined by 12 of his fellow nationals, including Maikel van der Vleuten and Jur Vrieling.

2020 team Olympic Games gold medallist, Henrik von Eckermann, will also be contesting the Rolex Grand Prix. The Swede won here in 2019 and will be looking to emulate his success as one of only two Swedish riders competing at The Dutch Masters, after World No. 1 Peder Fredricson withdrew from the competition.

As excitement builds for the first Major of the year, will Fuchs’s quest for show jumping’s most coveted prize continue or will there be a new live contender?

Read more here.

© 2022 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

World’s Best Riders Return to Dutch Masters for First Major of Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

Geneva, Switzerland, 1 March 2022 – The world’s elite horse and rider combinations will gather at The Dutch Masters for three days of world-class competition in show jumping and dressage. The indoor event, held in the Brabanthallen in ’s-Hertogenbosch, culminates on Sunday 13 March with the Rolex Grand Prix, the year’s first Major of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, which rewards any rider who wins, consecutively, three of these highest-status events.

Inaugurated more than half a century ago, The Dutch Masters is one of the most revered occasions on the equestrian calendar. Since 2014, Rolex has been Main Sponsor of the event, where respect for tradition is matched by a commitment to constant innovation, making it a perfect partnership.

THE ROLEX GRAND SLAM OF SHOW JUMPING

World No. 2 Martin Fuchs had an exceptional 2021 season, which concluded with victory in the Rolex Grand Prix at the Concours Hippique International de Genève (CHIG). The Swiss rider heads to The Dutch Masters as the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping live contender. Fuchs said:

“I am really looking forward to returning to The Dutch Masters. The Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is the most esteemed title in our sport, and I am hoping to emulate my success at CHI Geneva to maintain my winning momentum.”

Fuchs will be joined in the Netherlands by a strong contingent of fellow Testimonees. These riders will aim to showcase the harmony they have developed with their horse in their quest to win this coveted Major.

Harry Charles of Great Britain had a remarkable 2021, competing in his first Olympic Games at the age of 22, and has risen to the top of the Under-25 World Rankings. He will look to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Scott Brash, the only rider to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, completing the feat in 2015.

Daniel Deusser, a two-time winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters, and victorious at the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen last year, heads to the Brabanthallen fully aware of the precision, skill, and trust between horse and rider that is required at this level. Victory in ’s Hertogenbosch would enable the German World No. 3 to collect a Rolex Grand Slam bonus for winning two of the four Majors within a year. Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat is another with a chance to claim a bonus following his victory in The CP ‘International’ at Spruce Meadows in September.

Frenchman Kevin Staut, twice a Rolex Grand Prix winner at The Dutch Masters, and Great Britain’s Brash will be drawing on their extensive experience as they join their fellow Testimonees in the quest to make the perfect start to their challenge for the ultimate equestrian prize, the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
virginie.chevailler@rolex.com
+41 (0) 22 302 2619

Merrick Haydon
rEvolution
mhaydon@revolutionworld.com
+44 (0) 7748 186 833

Inside the Rolex Grand Slam: Road to The Dutch Masters 2022

Left to right: Harrie Smolders (NED), Martin Fuchs (SUI), and Max Kühner (AUT). Photo: www.scoopdyga.com.

Live contender interview with Martin Fuchs

How does it feel to know you made history by winning consecutive Rolex Grands Prix at CHI Geneva in front of your home crowd?

It is always amazing to win a Rolex Grand Prix, but to win one back-to-back, and in front of my home crowd, made it so much more special to me. Leone Jei is such a young horse as well; it was certainly a very big win for me!

Do you think that Leone Jei could be the next Clooney 51?

I do not compare them; Clooney 51 was the most successful horse in the history of Swiss show jumping. So, I really cannot expect to have the next Clooney 51 straight away. However, I do think that Leone Jei has shown that he has all the qualities and I think that he is one of the best horses on the circuit right now.

Looking ahead to The Dutch Masters next month, which horses will you compete with, and who have you selected for the Rolex Grand Prix?

I will ride Chaplin in the Rolex Grand Prix. He is in very good form, and I think that The Dutch Masters will really suit him. I am planning to take Leone Jei to the bigger outside rings, such as CHIO Aachen, as I think that they suit him better.

Which horse and rider combinations do you think have what it takes to win the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters?

I don’t think that there is one specific combination. At every Rolex Grand Slam Major, you find the best horse and rider combinations, and therefore everyone there has a chance to win. In my opinion that is why the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is so special and unique. I think that our sport is different from most other sports: it is much harder to win regularly or back-to-back, as we work with animals which makes the sport so unpredictable. This makes winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, like Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos did, such an incredible achievement.

Read more here.

© 2022 Rolex – Rolex Grand Slam

The World’s Best in Action on Day Three of The London International Horse Show

Great Britain’s Tokyo 2020 individual gold medalists Ben Maher and Explosion W took centre stage in a dedicated celebration of his Olympic success. With the crowd on its feet, the pair left the arena to Alesso’s Heroes, a fitting tribute to their outstanding achievement.

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International came to a thrilling conclusion with World No. 1 Boyd Exell coming out on top once again.

It was a busy day for the Show Jumpers, opening with The LeMieux Six Bar, which was shared between Alfie Bradstock and Max Kühner, who both produced faultless performances across the five rounds. World No. 4, Martin Fuchs, made it a London International Horse Show 2021 treble in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes, with The Longines Christmas Cracker going to XX.

Other notable highlights include wins for Jessica Clarehugh with Avonwolf Beanies Dizzy Dora in The Kennel Club Dog Agility Stakes Finals, and Robert Murphy receiving the Ella Popely Award, presented each year in recognition of the rider between the ages of 18 and 25 who has shown the qualities of being a true sportsman or woman: representing the sport well, acting as a team player, and encouraging others to excel.

EXCELLENT EXELL STRIKES AGAIN

The FEI Driving World Cup presented by Eurofip International saw the top three Drivers go through to a drive-off which had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Germany’s Mareike Harm set the pace with an accurate round, finishing with clear in a time of 143.70. Koos De Ronde from The Netherlands was second in and put in an impressive performance to cross the line in 137.25 seconds; however, with four penalties to add, his score of 141.25 left the window open for last to go, Boyd Exell. The Australian was down on the time in the first half; however, a spectacular second section saw him make up over three seconds with no penalties to add, to win by a wide margin.

Exell said: “This is such a fabulous arena; the sound system is great, the crowd sound even clearer, and they are really with you for every turn. We had a change from yesterday; we were resting one of the wheelers as he had done three shows in a row. It was a tactic because we are wildcards. Annabel and Simon Brooks-Ward invited me to be here, so it’s a chance to do well but also to try some different things and it worked out today.”

Great Britain’s Daniel Naprous added: “I just want to say thank you to The London International Horse Show for being brave enough to put on the event and give us somewhere incredible to compete at. The atmosphere has been amazing tonight and I am so grateful to be here.”

JACK’S THE KING OF THE PACK

Nine combinations went through to the jump-off of The Longines Christmas Cracker. Eager to set an unattainable target, the first four to go against the clock all picked up penalties en route. Great Britain’s Jack Whitaker was the first to post a clear, jumping a smooth but relatively conservative round aboard Valmy de la Lande to ensure his place in the prizes. With those who followed also accumulating faults in their attempts to increase the pace, Finland’s Noora Forsten was rewarded for her tactics in jumping a steady clear round, finishing in second, with Harry Charles back in third, the fastest of the four faulters.

A delighted Whitaker said: “It’s difficult to put into words to be honest. I’ve been wanting to compete here since I was a little kid. I’ve been coming to this show for as long as I can remember; it’s what I’ve always dreamed of and I got lucky tonight. It wasn’t a great jump-off course for me tonight, and so when I saw the ones ahead of me knocking jumps down, I thought I might get away with just jumping a nice clear, and I did.”

The world’s best Show Jumpers battled it out in The Global Herbs Snowflake Stakes. The top 10 from the first round went through to the jump-off, carrying forward any penalties incurred. The first to secure the coveted first double clear, Austria’s Max Kühner, set the pace of 39.28 seconds; however, Martin Fuchs, already a double winner at the Show this week, pulled out all the stops to take the lead with an impressive time of 36.20 aboard Tam Tam du Valon.

The Swiss World No. 4 was looking hard to beat. Dutchman Harrie Smolders came close with a beautifully smooth round in a time of 37.72, as did Germany’s Christian Ahlmann; their efforts were only good enough for third and second place, respectively, leaving Fuchs with his third London International Horse Show 2021 victory.

The Lemieux Six Bar provided top-class entertainment. 13 starters lined up to face the six-obstacle course, run over a knock-out format, whereby those jumping clear in the first rounds went through to face the increasingly imposing course. Just two combinations made it to the fifth round, with the final fence standing at an incredible 1.90m – Austria’s Max Kühner riding EIC Coriolis des Isles and Great Britain’s Aflie Bradstock aboard H. d’Or.

Up first, Kühner put on a foot perfect performance to secure his place at the top of the leaderboard and placing the pressure on Bradstock. The Brit rose to the occasion with a fine display of athleticism to match Kühner’s feat and share the honours, much to the delight of the home crowd.

Celebrating his first London International Horse Show victory, Bradstock said: “It’s amazing just to even compete here, and to win something is a real dream come true. This horse is a Puissance specialist, and the Six Bar was a something extra that we thought we may as well give a go while we’re here. I never expected him to do that, but with the support of the audience he just got better and better. The crowd was fantastic; to have the home crowd cheering like that was unbelievable.”

Kühner added: “I’m really enjoying the Show; it’s fantastic because the crowd is still the same; they give us such a boost; it almost feels like we have wings. The London crowd really is stunning;S it was really special. My horse is only nine, but he is incredibly talented already, and has achieved a lot this year. He’s done a great job today and I have a good feeling about tomorrow too.”

More information about The London International Horse Show can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Mr Blue Sky UK Shines on a New Era for London International Horse Show

Charlotte Dujardin started the 2021 edition of The London International Horse Show in style, with victory in the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix aboard her Olympic double bronze medal-winning ride, Gio. The Afternoon Performance saw an increase in pace, with the Extreme Driving supported by Karen and Hugh Scott-Barrett won by Jerome Voutaz, and the first CSI5* Show Jumping competition of the Show – The Santa Stakes – which saw World No. 4 Martin Fuchs take the spoils.

The famous Puissance wall took centre stage at ExCeL London for the Evening Performance, with Guy Williams jumping 2.10m to win. There was a second victory for Fuchs in The Christmas Pudding Stakes. In addition to the return of annual favourites The Shetland Pony Grand National and the Kennel Club Dog Agility, there were performances by The Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, horse whisperer Santi Serra, and the presentation of the Raymond Brooks-Ward Memorial Trophy to talented young rider Lottie Fry.

CHARLOTTE SHINES IN LONDON

Great Britain’s Gareth Hughes took an early lead in the FEI Dressage World Cup Grand Prix, scoring 69.605 in the new shortened test. Compatriot Richard Davison was the first to surpass the 70% mark, scoring 71.526% aboard his 15-year-old homebred gelding Bubblingh. However, his lead was short-lived, as he was followed into the arena by Britain’s joint most decorated female Olympian, Charlotte Dujardin. Dujardin, riding her 2020 Tokyo Olympic mount, Gio, set the arena alight, trending at over 80% for much of the test and setting a new personal best score of 82.553%.

Dujardin’s Tokyo Olympic teammate, Lottie Fry, riding her 2019 European Championship partner, was the next to pose a challenge. However, a score of 74.52% – which went into second place at the time – was only good enough for eventual fourth in such hot competition. The final two to go, Nanna Skodborg Merrald from Denmark and Frederic Wandres from Germany, came closest to Dujardin’s outstanding mark to finish third and second, respectively.

“I was absolutely over the moon with Gio today,” said Dujardin. “This is his first indoor show; he has only really done the Olympics and Europeans this year, so he had to up his game very quickly to go into that huge indoor arena. He took it in his stride; he went out there and did the test. I didn’t feel like I had to hold his hand through it at all. He really delivered, which made me unbelievably happy. “

FUCHS ON FLYING FORM

The CSI5* Show Jumping got underway with The Santa Stakes, a 1.50m jump-off class, which was won by World No. 4, Martin Fuchs from Switzerland, riding The Sinner. The combination picked up where they left off at the Show, returning to London following their win in the FEI Jumping World Cup in 2019.

12 combinations made it through with a clear first round, setting up for a scintillating jump-off against the clock, and in the end just 0.11 seconds separated the top three. Germany’s Christian Ahlmann took an early lead, setting an impressive target for those who followed; however, Fuchs, full of confidence following victory in the Grand Prix at CHI Geneva last weekend, put on a masterful display to take the lead at the midway point. With just three remaining, Max Kühner gave his all to put Fuchs’ lead in jeopardy, but his time of 32.93 was 0.09 seconds slower, going into second place, with Ahlmann in eventual third.

Fuchs commented: “This is a perfect start to the London International Horse Show with a win in the big class. The Sinner loves to come to London and really enjoys this Show; when he went in the ring, I could feel he wanted to do his best and he loves performing here, and so do I!”

Fuchs’ winning streak continued as he made it two from two on the opening day of the Show with victory in The Christmas Pudding Speed Stakes. Drawn fourth of 34 starters, Fuchs laid down the gauntlet, making all the turns and keeping his foot on the gas throughout to post a time to beat of 53.34 seconds. Those who followed were unable to match his pace and accuracy. Great Britain’s Guy Williams, notorious for his speed against the clock, put in a valiant effort to post a time of 54.82, finishing fourth, and France’s Olivier Robert also came close with a time of 54.48. Last to go, Britain’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Champion Ben Maher had the sell-out crowd on their feet with an explosive gallop to the last, but despite his best efforts, he could only go into second.

Speaking after the class, Fuchs said: “I knew my horse would be very fast, so I thought I would give it go and try to put as much pressure on the rest of riders as possible. It was very tight at the end as Ben was quick, but I was happy to stay on top. The atmosphere here is amazing; performing in front a full crowd is so cool and the facilities here are amazing for the horses. I am really enjoying the Show so far.”

The LeMieux Puissance provided a fitting conclusion to the opening day of the Show. The famous red wall was raised to 2.10m in the fourth round, a height that could only be cleared by Guy Williams riding Mr Blue Sky UK. The combination, who were joint winners of the same class at the 2018 Show, was up against three other challengers in the fourth round, but Williams and Mr Blue Sky UK – who have an exceptional Puissance record – came out on top as the only pair to jump the wall without fault. Equal second was shared between French riders Mathieu Billot and Daniel Delsart, who both finished on four faults in the fourth round.

A delighted Williams said: “He jumped so well tonight; he is such a good Puissance horse and so reliable. I know him really well – I have had him since he was four, so it is great to win here again with him. The atmosphere was so good in the arena. I could hear people cheering for us, but I was trying to focus on my job and what was in front of us. My plan is to jump him in the FEI Jumping World Cup™ on Sunday as he’s feeling good, but will see how we go over the next couple of days.”

More information about The London International Horse Show, including how to buy tickets, can be found here.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Jenkins / rEvolution / gjenkins@revolutionworld.com

Martin Fuchs Crowned Rolex Grand Prix Champion at CHI Geneva

Geneva, Switzerland, Sunday 12 December 2021 – Martin Fuchs riding Leone Jei claimed the final equestrian Major of 2021, winning the prestigious Rolex Grand Prix at the Concours Hippique International de Genève (CHI Geneva), becoming the first rider in the history of the competition to win consecutive editions, following his victory in Geneva in 2019.

The world’s elite competitors gathered at the Palexpo arena for the Geneva International Horse Show, of which Rolex has been the Main Sponsor since 1996. The event, steeped in history and celebrating its 60th edition in 2021, is traditionally a showcase of precision and consistency, qualities demonstrated in abundance by Fuchs in Switzerland over the weekend, and reflected in Rolex’s own commitment to perpetual excellence in its watchmaking and all other endeavours.

The winning combination highlighted the critical importance of harmony between horse and rider, how trust and communication are the foundation of any successful partnership and the ability to push beyond the known limits of performance.

The demanding first round set by world-renowned course designers Gérard Lachat of Switzerland and Louis Konickx of the Netherlands saw just six of the 40 starters head through to the jump-off. First to go against the clock, Ireland’s Darragh Kenny set a fast but beatable time, leaving the door open to those who followed. Fuchs was next to go and produced a precision-perfect round aboard the nine-year-old Leone Jei, setting the time to beat of 41.54 seconds, almost two seconds faster than Kenny.

Rolex Testimonee Kent Farrington followed Fuchs into the arena, and put in a fearless effort, shaving 0.19 seconds off the time, only to accrue four faults at the very last fence. Those that followed were unable to match the accuracy and pace of Fuchs, with Harrie Smolders from The Netherlands and Max Kühner from Austria finishing second and third, respectively.

Commenting on his win, the Swiss rider said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to get my second victory here in Geneva. Leone Jei jumped great in both rounds. I knew that the jump-off suited me very well; I knew that I could leave out strides and that it would be difficult for my colleagues to do the same because Leone Jei has such a massive stride. I’m delighted to once again be the live contender of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.”

Equestrian fans will now eagerly look forward to the next Major, The Dutch Masters in March 2022, when Fuchs will be the live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, the sport’s ultimate challenge that rewards any rider who wins three consecutive Grand Prix at the four Majors.

Virginie Chevailler
Rolex SA
virginie.chevailler@rolex.com
+41 (0) 22 302 2619

Merrick Haydon
rEvolution
mhaydon@revolutionworld.com
+44 (0) 7748 186 833

Martin Fuchs Wins Rolex Grand Prix, Becomes New Rolex Grand Slam Live Contender

Photo: Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

The world watched on in anticipation, as the final Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of 2021 – the Rolex Grand Prix – played out at CHI Geneva in Switzerland, with 16 out of the world’s current top 20-ranked riders each staking their claim for a distinguished place in equestrian history. The culmination of four days of the highest level of show jumping, the Rolex Grand Prix would be decided over one round and a jump-off, should more than one rider go clear.

Representing 15 nations, the international field of 40 horse and rider combinations included the esteemed winners of the year’s previous three Majors: Max Kühner from Austria (winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at The Dutch Masters); Swiss Steve Guerdat (winner of the CP ‘International’, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’); and Daniel Deusser from Germany (winner of the Rolex Grand Prix at CHIO Aachen). As Live Contender, Deusser would settle for nothing less than victory in order to keep his Rolex Grand Slam journey alive, while Kühner and Guerdat would be looking to trigger the ‘two out of four’ bonus, which they were both in contention for.

As well as Deusser and Guerdat, Rolex was represented in CHI Geneva’s headline class by a further six of the world’s very best equestrian athletes, including Harry Charles (GBR), Bertram Allen (IRL), Martin Fuchs (SUI), Kent Farrington (USA), Kevin Staut (FRA), Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping champion, Scott Brash (GBR), and Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA).

After a little over an hour, none of the first 23 partnerships to tackle the 14-obstacle, 18-effort test were able to go clear, with the majority struggling to master the course’s tricky combinations, particularly the oxer at 13a. However, that was soon to change when Ireland’s Darragh Kenny produced a faultless round, much to the delight of the well-informed crowd. Kenny’s clear was immediately emulated by local rider, Swiss hero Martin Fuchs, who cleared the final vertical to rapturous applause. Co-designed by Swiss Gérard Lachat and Louis Konickx from The Netherlands, the course then claimed the scalps of a trio of top-level riders, including Deusser, Guerdat, and reigning Olympic Individual champion, Ben Maher. The opening day’s winner of the Trophée de Genève, American Kent Farrington, was once again on top form, immaculately negotiating the course with his 15-year-old mare, Gazelle, and booking his place in the jump-off. After another handful of combinations were unable to go clear, it was Kühner and his brilliant 10-year-old gelding, Elektric Blue P, who made no mistake, ensuring they were still in the running for the non-consecutive ‘two out of four’ bonus. Representation in the jump-off from the United States was soon doubled when Laura Kraut and Baloutinue crossed the finish line without a fault. Shortly afterwards, Harrie Smolders became the final rider to go clear, and in doing so setting up a scintillating six-horse jump-off.

First to go in the jump-off, Kenny became the first rider to record a double clear. Next up, Fuchs and his nine-year-old Leone Jei made it two out of two, comfortably beating Kenny into second place by nearly two seconds in a time of 41.54 seconds. Farrington looked as though he would make it three out of three; however, after a typically blistering round, he was denied the honour after putting down the final Rolex vertical. Despite going double clear, Kühner was unable to knock Fuchs off top spot after the Austrian finished 0.68 seconds off the pace. With Kraut putting two fences down, Fuchs’ destiny would lie in the hands of last to go, 41-year-old Smolders; however, the Dutchman fell agonisingly short, eventually finishing in second place, just 0.23 seconds off the time of 2021 Rolex Grand Prix champion and the new Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender, Martin Fuchs.

On his special and hugely talented nine-year-old gelding, Fuchs commented: “Leone Jei is very unique in the qualities that he has. The way that he jumps – he does it so lightly and effortlessly, which is impressive to see in a nine-year-old horse. He is very good in his head, he is so motivated, and he always wants to do his best, so I really appreciate having a horse like that in my stable and being able to look forward to the future together.”

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