Wellington, Florida, USA – February 10, 2019 – Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Clooney 51 won the $391,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI 5* last night during the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, Florida, USA.
A total of 40 combinations were set to participate in the first CSI 5* Grand Prix of the twelve-week long circuit. Carlos Hank Guerreiro (MEX) and H5 Sunshine were the first ones to enter the ring and face the course designed by Kelvin Bywater (GBR), knocking 3 poles down for a total of twelve penalty-points. The second liverpool obstacle was the only one that caused harm to several competitors.
Wilton Porter (USA) and Caletto Cabana (San Patrignano Cassini x Capecanaveral) were the first ones to complete the 1.60m course without having any penalties attributed to them.
Time was not a factor and the clean peformances kept coming, in fact it was the jump-off with the highest number of participants in the last 12 years. Emil Hallundbaek (DEN), Lucas Porter (USA), Spencer Smith (USA), Jessica Springsteen (USA), Eduardo Menezes (BRA) Erynn Ballard (CAN), Karen Polle (JPN), Markus Beerbaum (GER), Tiffany Foster (CAN), William Whitaker (GBR), Todd Minikus (USA) Martin Fuchs (SUI), Daniel Coyle (IRL), Richie Moloney (GBR), Beezie Madden (USA), Conor Swail (IRL) and Kent Farrington (USA).
Wilton Porter (USA) and Caletto Cabana got things started in the jump-off just as they did in the first round, posting a flawless performance in 34.975 seconds, which would be enough for seventh place.
Martin Fuchs (SUI) & Clooney 51
Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Clooney 51, a 13-year-old grey Westpalian gelding (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo) took the lead for good by lowering the mark to 33.130 seconds without having any penalties attributed to them.
Richie Moloney (IRL) & Rocksy Music
Coming after the eventual winners in the jump-off, Richie Moloney (IRL) and Rocksy Music (Ars Vivendi x Diamond Serpent) finished third by registering a penalty-free performance in 34.423 seconds.
Kent Farrington (USA) & Gazelle
Kent Farrington (USA) and Gazelle (Kashmir van Schuttershof x Indoctro) had the advantage of being the last ones to challenge Fuchs’ results, coming just short with their time of 34.423 seconds, enough for silver honors.
Martin Fuchs (SUI) & Clooney 51
On the win:
“There were many clears in the first round and I was late to go. I knew that my horse was in great shape and he is great outdoors. We have been indoors the past few months, and he is very experienced so it was good for him to come out here under the lights. Still, he was a little surprised in the first round. He jumped very, very careful and I had to use more leg than usual, but this gave me a very good feeling for the jump-off because I knew when I had a bit more speed he would go over the oxers easily. When I walked the jump-off, I knew it suited my horse really well and I could take a nice turn from [fences] one to two, use his big stride and trust in his jump and his carefulness. I’m very happy with this win. I thought Kent [Farrington] was going to be faster since we all know he is one of the fastest riders on the circuit, but I’m happy that for once he didn’t beat me and let the Swiss guy have a chance.”
On competing at WEF:
“My girlfriend Paris Sellon is from the United States, and she has always been here showing over the winter. This year I wanted to join her, so I brought six horses for myself, and so far everything has been very good. I definitely like that we can ride outdoors here. We have nice indoor shows in Europe, but it can be very hard to take younger, inexperienced horses up to this level. For a horse like Clooney, it doesn’t really matter where he is, but for my second-string horses I think it is very important that we can bring them here and have classes every week to help bring them up to the 1.60m level so that Clooney has the support of some other horses.”
On Clooney’s recovery from Colic surgery:
“Clooney started last year with two 5* grand prix wins in Switzerland in Basel and Zurich, he had a break, and then after the break he had colic surgery. He came back really quick and we did everything we could to make his recovery as good and fast as possible. We installed a camera in his box to be able to supervise him all the time, and at nights one of us woke up to check him in the box every two hours. Since he was not allowed to have a saddle on, we took him on long four-hour walks every day, we walked on the hill and we rented a treadmill just for him so that he would stay in shape and not lose too much muscle. We did some small shows and took him to Aachen just to play around a bit, then after that we did three 5* grand prix classes where he placed in all three before we brought him to [the FEI World Equestrian Games™ in] Tryon, where he was at his best. I was just thinking about his rounds, and his last 20 1.60m courses, he did 18 clear rounds. That’s pretty amazing at this level, especially with going fast.”
On the jump-off:
“I knew it would be very fast. Martin [Fuchs] is a very competitive rider; he wins all over the world and he had a great result at the World Championships. [Clooney 51] is one of the best horses in the world that he is competing. I also have my top horse [Gazelle] competing, so regardless of whether there are 20 clear or two, we are going to be running as fast as we can go and everybody out there will really try to win. The top four were all pretty close in time and had to take risks out there. [Clooney 51] is exceptional and can take out strides in lines that other horses can’t. He left a stride out in the double, and was the only person to do that successfully. I thought that was too much risk for my horse as she is extremely careful, and I thought she might stop. I tried to catch him with foot-speed around the rest of the course but we fell a little short today.”
On the course:
“I think that it’s a very difficult job being a course designer. Something like the time-allowed being two seconds too short or too long can make the difference of two clear or 16 clear, so it’s a very small line that you’re playing with. With this caliber of horses and riders, two seconds can make the difference of a clear ride or lots of rails down.”
On Rocksy Music:
“He jumped WEF Week 3 after he had a three-month break. The plan was always aiming for tonight. I believe in this horse; he is a very good horse. He’s an Irish horse, and I think he is going to be my best horse. He was a little bit difficult when he first came to me. He is 11 years old, but he is probably a year behind. His first FEI show was October the year before last. We took a year just jumping 1.35m and 1.40m, so we took our time and when he was ready to go he came along very quickly.”
On the jump-off:
“Before I went, I was worried. In the jump-off, people really tried to go fast and there were a lot of fences down and people having mishaps trying to go too fast. It ended up as a very good competition and a good jump-off. I’m happy with how it ended up and I think my horse did very well.”
$391,000 Fidelity Investments Grand Prix CSI 5*
Place / Riders / Country & Horse – R1 Penalties / Jump-off Penalties – Time
1. Martin Fuchs (SUI) & Clooney 51 – 0 / 0 – 33.130
2. Kent Farrington (USA) & Gazelle – 0 / 0 – 33.571
3. Richie Moloney (IRL) & Rocksy Music – 0 / 0 – 34.423
4. Conor Swail (IRL) & Flower – 0 / 0 – 34.698
5. Spencer Smith (USA) & Theoddore Manciais – 0 / 0 – 34.897
6. Daniel Coyle (IRL) & Quintin – 0 / 0 – 34.901
7. Wilton Porter (USA) & Caletto Cabana – 0 / 0 – 34.975
8. William Whitaker (GBR) & RMF Cadeau Du Muze – 0 / 0 – 38.857
9. Markus Beerbaum (GER) & Cool Hand Luke 4 – 0 / 0 – 40.717
10. Beezie Madden (USA) & Coach – 0 / 4 – 33.524
11. Eduardo Menezes (BRA) & H5 Chaganus – 0 / 4 – 34.011
12. Emil Hallundbaek (DEN) & Chalisco – 0 / 4 – 34.289
For full results, please click here.
Photo: © PBIEC / Liza Goodlett / Caroline Roche
Categories: Winter Equestrian Festival