Press Release by Louise Parkes for Equi Equipe
The Pala-Volkswagen is already buzzing with excitement as the horses and riders have arrived for the 2019 edition of Jumping Verona, the world-class event that features the fourth leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ 2019/2020 Western European League series.
And the top riders are really looking forward to it. “Verona is one of the best shows in the world, and doing well here gives you a big place in history!” said Swiss star Steve Guerdat who was this week confirmed as No. 1 in the world rankings for the 11th consecutive month.
Guerdat’s compatriot, Martin Fuchs, finished third here last year with Clooney, shortly after taking individual silver at the World Championships in Tryon, USA. And since then the pair have gone on to take the individual European Championship title, Fuchs moved into the No. 2 position on the World Rankings and just last weekend climbed to the top of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Western European League table following victory with his grey wonderhorse in Lyon, France. So all eyes are on this 27-year-old rider who is riding a wave of success and is delighted to be competing again here this week.
“Verona is definitely one of my favourites, it’s nice to come here after the big win in Lyon – that was maybe the best World Cup I’ve ever had! And here in Verona I’ve been able to ride already many times. I like competing in Italy, I do it quite often, I have a lot of friends here and Verona has a really great schedule. You get to bring three horses and you get to ride them every day”, Fuchs said this evening.
The schedule also allows the riders to enjoy their surroundings. “We ride in the afternoons and evenings, but at night we are off so we get to visit the beautiful city. I actually go every year almost every night into the city for a walk and for dinner, and just enjoy being in Italy!” he added.
He doesn’t have Clooney with him this time around so he is relying on the 11-year-old gelding, The Sinner, in the Verona World Cup qualifier – “and it would be great to win again on Sunday!” he said. “I haven’t yet won a 5-Star Grand Prix or a World Cup with him, so that would definitely be a highlight in our partnership together. But our partnership is still young, we’ve had some good results – maybe this is the week, you never know, anything can happen!” he pointed out.
The Sinner didn’t get his name without good reason however. Fuchs laughs when he explains that, “yes, he can still be a little bit tricky sometimes! But I wouldn’t say he means any bad behind it, he just gets a bit stressed and loses his head sometimes so it’s important to keep him calm and relaxed” he explained.
Fuchs has also brought the 12-year-old French-bred Tam Tam du Valon which was on the Spanish team at the European Championships in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in August. The Swiss rider has only been riding the horse since September, and the third horse in his string this week is the 10-year-old grey mare Chica Z with which he competed at the Longines FEI Jumping Nations Cup™ Final in Barcelona, Spain last month.
The World Cup leg at Jumping Verona has a sparkling Roll of Honour that includes so many of the legends of the sport. Adding your name to that list is something every rider aspires to, and last year it was Germany’s Daniel Deusser, currently World No. 3, who put his name up in lights with a brilliant victory riding Calisto Blue. He’s back again this year and if he can repeat his success then he will be the first rider in the history of Jumping Verona to do so.
But of course they all have to see off the efforts of the home contingent, including Emilio Bicocchi who Italian Chef d’Equipe, Duccio Bartalucci, describes as “a driving force” for Italian showjumping, and Lorenzo de Luca who he says is “a born Number One!”.
Then there is Emanuele Gaudiano, “an extraordinarily competitive rider, always managing to give the maximum in the ring and brilliant at making sure his horses do the same”, Giulia Martinengo Marquet who has had a great year and the ever-reliable Paolo Paini. “When I’m in trouble, I know that I can always rely on him!” Bartalucci says.
The man known as “The Maestro”, Italian course designer Uliano Vezzani, will be setting the courses for the three action-packed days of sport that begin tomorrow with the Safe Riding Two-Phase, the Prestige Speed and the Kask Jump-Off, while Saturday’s main competitions will be the Franco Tucci Speed and the Selleria Equipe Jump-Off. Equiline presents the Accumulator with Joker on Sunday morning and then more history will be made in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ of Verona presented by Volkswagen.