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Martin Fuchs on evaluating his horses to Clooney – and the significance of snacks – forward of this week’s Dutch Masters

  • At the Dutch Masters this week (11-13 March), the world number three Martin Fuchs will be bidding to follow up on his CHI Geneva victory to claim a second consecutive leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping.

    Martin will line up against the world’s best riders including Daniel Deusser, Scott Brash, Steve Guerdat, Harry Charles and Marcus Ehning for Sunday’s feature class and the Swiss rider will be teaming up with the 15-year-old bay stallion Chaplin (Verdi TN x Concorde), a real indoor specialist, for the occasion.

    “Chaplin has won so many grands prix and he has such an amazing character,” says Martin. “He is very special to me.

    “He is in very good form, and I think that The Dutch Masters will really suit him. I am planning to take [European medallist] Leone Jei to the bigger outside rings, such as CHIO Aachen, as I think that they suit him better.”

    Martin, who is one of the most popular and successful riders on the circuit, is fortunate to have a great string of top level horses right now.

    “Obviously, Leone Jei is a spectacular horse,” he says. “He has an amazing mentality and is very ambitious – he always wants to try his best. Sometimes, that does make it slightly harder because he has so much blood and is so keen, I have to try and keep him as calm and relaxed as possible.

    “Conner Jei is very talented, but he can be a bit tricker than the other horses. He won the Rolex Grand Prix of Dinard last year, and I am planning on taking him to the FEI World Cup Final this year. The Sinner is also one of best horses currently and is very capable. These horses have already won many five-star grands prix between them and I feel very lucky to be able to ride them.”

    When asked whether his European silver medal-winning Leonie Jei could be the next Clooney 51, who retired last year, Martin says: “I do not compare them; Clooney 51 was the most successful horse in the history of Swiss showjumping. 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.”

    ‘He has not had a fence down yet’

    Martin also has some younger horses to fill him with excitement.

    “Commissar Pezi is a nine-year-old, and I am currently competing with him out on the Sunshine Tour for the first time,” says Martin. “He looks very promising, he has a great jump and attitude – however he is very green for his age, but I am still very excited by him. Viper Z and Diva Van Het Cauterhof Z, are eight-year-olds and they are also both with me on the Sunshine Tour. They have both jumped really well so far, Diva [Van Het Cauterhof Z] has jumped 15 rounds and has not had a fence down yet. Pina Van De Moerhoeve is my seven-year-old and she has been jumping a lot of the young horse classes out here. I have been having a lot of fun on the Tour, I am not jumping the biggest classes, but I am really enjoying bringing the young horses up through the levels.

    “They are all giving me very good feelings, but it is always difficult to know whether they are going to be my next five-star winning horse. However, they have a lot of quality and have jumped a lot of clear rounds – so I think the future is looking promising.”

    2022 looks set to be a busy year for Martin has he targets the showjumping World Championships and all four Rolex Majors, as well as next month’s World Cup Jumping Final.

    “For me the special partnership between horse and rider is so exciting and keeps me motivated,” says Martin. “Each horse is different every day, and I really enjoy spending time with them. When you work with a horse every day to improve and your work pays off at a big show, it is so rewarding.”

    ‘The sport is so unpredicatable’

    Martin describes winning his second consecutive Rolex Grands Prix at CHI Geneva on Leone Jei in front of his home crowd as very special but underlines just how difficult it is to win a five-star class of that standard.

    “At every Rolex Grand Slam Major, you find the best horse and rider combinations, and therefore everyone there has a chance to win,” he says. “In my opinion that is why the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping 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 Showjumping, like Scott Brash and Hello Sanctos did, such an incredible achievement.”

    But it’s not all about the sport – at CHI Geneva, snacks were a crucial part of the show regime as the Fuchs team were serving freshly made crepes from outside their horses’ stables – thanks to one of Martin’s friends.

    “He likes to come to the shows and take care of me and my grooms,” says Martin. “All of the riders like to stop by in between classes to have a snack!”

    • The Rolex Grand Prix takes place at the Dutch Masters on Sunday, 11 March. Scott Brash remains the only rider to have won the Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping, which now takes in four Majors – the Dutch Masters, Spruce Meadows, Aachen and Geneva.

    Previous grand prix winners at the Dutch Masters:

    2021 Max Kühner (AUT), Elektric Blue P
    2019 Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), Toveks Mary Lou
    2018 Niels Bruynseels (BEL), Gancia de Muze
    2017 Leopold van Asten (NED), VDL Groep Zidane N.O.P.
    2016 Marcus Ehning (GER), Cornado NRW
    2015 Daniel Deusser (GER), Cornet d’Amour
    2014 Kevin Staut (FRA), Silvana*HDC
    2013 Maikel van der Vleuten (NED), Kisby
    2012 Marc Houtzager (NED), Opium
    2011 Albert Zoer (NED), Sam
    2010 Kevin Staut (FRA), Silvana*HDC
    2009 Albert Zoer (NED), Sam
    2008 Daniel Etter (SUI), Peu a Peu
    2007 Daniel Deusser (GER), Air Jordan Z
    2006 Albert Zoer (NED), Okidoki
    2005 Marcus Ehning (GER), Gitania
    2004 Gert-Jan Bruggink (NED), Joel
    2003 Robert Smith (GBR), Marius Claudius

    > With thanks to Rolex Grand Slam of Showjumping

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