Martin Fuchs, live contender of Rolex Grand Slam of show jumping
Exclusive interview with Rolex Grand Slam live contender Martin Fuchs
One of my first riding memories was when I was seven years old, I was riding my pony Cleopatra, it was with her that I competed in my first jumping competition.
The last few years have been incredible for you, what has enabled you to step it up a gear?
I’ve been very fortunate to have an amazing support group, a great set of sponsors and wonderful horse owners. My parents have always supported me through everything, I have an incredible team at home too, they have all helped me achieve my goals and my dreams. I’ve also put in a huge amount of work, I’ve had some pretty good results before, but right now I have a string of remarkable horses that have allowed me to remain competitive almost every week at five star shows. Previously, I would have only had a couple of top-class horses, but now I have a great string of horses, I can swap them in and out and try to win events week after week.
How do you find the horses, what exactly do you look for?
No two horses are the same, we don’t look for something particular in a horse, what we want is a careful horse who is also a fighter, and gives its best, which allows the rider to get the very best out of them.
Sometimes you compete against riders who have decades more experience than you, how do you keep your composure against them?
My family has always loved horses, I have grown up around the sport and all the great riders, this has allowed me to make a smooth transition into competing at the big shows. I still watch other riders and try to learn from them, to see if there is anything they do that’s particularly good, that I could take and try to improve. Despite my age, I have quite a lot of experience competing at a high level with a few different horses. Although there are certain situations where I feel I can learn from more experienced riders on the circuit to try and improve.
My parents have both supported me a lot from a young age, they have trained me, looked for horses for me, as well as helped me find horse owners and sponsors. It’s really been a team effort from all my family, as without them I wouldn’t have been able to become world number one and win a Rolex Grand Prix.
Clooney 51 is a superstar horse: how did your journey start and how have you grown together?
We bought Clooney through one of my best friends, when he was seven years old. In the beginning, he was a bit difficult, but he’s always been a great horse to ride. When he was eight years old, I realized that he could be a special horse, as he’d often placed in big Grands Prix. As a nine-year-old he placed second in a 5* Grand Prix in Doha. To become the team we are today, we’ve worked very hard on our dressage and his confidence. I try my best to keep him happy and give him the confidence he needs to perform, then in the ring he normally doesn’t let me down.
What do you think the qualities he naturally has that make him so special?
Clooney is very careful and clever at the fences; he’s very aware of his surroundings and always knows where the poles are. He’s a very intelligent jumper, with his own style, he doesn’t over-jump and never runs through the fences.
Do you plan on taking Clooney to The Dutch Masters?
I will definitely be taking Clooney; we’ve been training hard and preparing, so we have a good chance to do well.
You have achieved so much already but what are your next dreams and ambitions, what do you want to achieve?
I was ecstatic to become world number one; it was obviously a huge success and a dream come true for me, especially considering I’m still quite young. The Rolex Grand Prix victory in Geneva was the best possible outcome for me, which makes me a live contender for the Rolex Grand Slam. My main goals for this year are the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping and of course the Olympics in Tokyo, which I’m incredibly excited for.
The Rolex Grand Prix win at CHI Geneva was obviously very emotional for you, can you talk about what that win meant for you, especially in front of your home crowd?
Geneva has always been a good show for me, I’ve never been close to winning the Rolex Grand Prix there though, so when I qualified for the jump-off, I was very excited. Clooney was in great shape and I knew the jump-off would suit us both, I kept focused and tried to go as fast as I could whilst sticking to my plan. It was then hard for me to watch the others go and I was quite sure that what I’d done wasn’t enough and one of the best riders would beat me. When Darragh Kenny, who was the last rider in the ring had a pole down, I realized I’d won. It was an incredible moment; made even more special winning in front of my home crowd, my family and my friends.
Our preparation doesn’t change at all, Clooney is very good in the smaller arenas, so in a way it’s better for him. I’m excited as this will be my first time at The Dutch Masters, we will be competing at a 2-Star event with Clooney also in Holland a few weeks prior to the Dutch masters in order to be as prepared as possible.
Looking even further ahead to CHIO Aachen, again another completely different arena. Does Clooney grow in an arena like Aachen/ how does it affect him?
Clooney can be a little spooked in the big grass arenas, which makes things a little bit more difficult. Aachen is over the course of a whole week, which gives me the chance to get Clooney in the ring a couple of times before the Grand Prix, which will help us be more prepared. Last year he jumped really well and had clear rounds, however, during the second round I didn’t ride so well, but ultimately, I’m looking forward to bringing him back to the show.
Scott Brash won Rolex Grand Slam with Hello Sanctos, do you think Clooney could be a potential horse than could emulate their success?
I have complete faith in Clooney, I know he can win in any arena in the world, in any class. This gives me a lot of confidence, but I’ve not even dreamed about winning the Rolex Grand Slam because it’s so difficult. Anyone involved in our sport knows what Scott Brash has achieved is incredible and the odds of it happening again are so low. Of course, Clooney and I will try our best but who knows what the future holds.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I don’t think I’ve had a standout piece of advice given to me. I’ve learnt a lot of important values from a variety of people, the most important things I believe are to work hard, be dedicated, try to understand your horse and do your best every day.
When you’re not riding and competing, what are you doing? Do you have any hobbies outside of showjumping?
I’m quite laid back, so when I’m not competing, I like to go for long walks on the beach by the water, but sometimes I also go into the city. I try to relax as much as possible when I’m not training or competing, I think that’s important if you want to do well.