It was a day for the females at the last day of the 2018 World Equestrian Games in the jumping when Germany’s Simone Blum and her mare DSP Alice won the gold medal. Well-deserved winners, the pair didn’t incur any jumping faults in the entire competition, and had just one time fault in the last round.
In the first speed round, Simone, who turned 29 last week, finished in 21st place, 0.5 behind New Zealand’s Samantha McIntosh. From there, they notched up clear round after clear round and of course were part of the bronze-medal-winning German team.
They went into the final competition in the pole position and had a rail in hand over Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs when they set out for the final time. But with another sublime performance, the gold was theirs. Silver to Martin, and bronze to his fellow Swiss, Steve Guerdat with Bianca.
Simone was very emotional after her win. At the press conference, it was still sinking in that she had won the title at her first attempt. “I am so grateful to be here. I cannot describe my feelings it is unbelievable. Really, today was a perfect day.”
As to her impeccable jumping all show, Simone said that Alice is always so careful. “She is always fighting – she has the biggest heart and I think this week she knew that she can win the hearts of all of this world. I think she wanted really this win today .. she felt so great and was jumping her heart out for me. It was amazing.”
Simone admitted to only a few nerves. “The last days I was not nervous because she gave me a really good feeling – today I was a little bit nervous but actually when I am on the course I am very focused. I know if I ride her good she will normally never take a pole and that is why I had a very good feeling, but it was a difficult course.”
Martin Fuchs, the silver medal winner with Clooney, says: “I would have hoped that she knocked a rail down and I could be world champion, but she was far away of even touching a pole and that is why she is the world champion.”
Clooney has been a long-time favourite of many, and seeing him performing so well was fantastic. He stood quietly during the medal ceremony, while the two mares Alice and Bianca fussed, pawed and walked, giving their grooms a bit of a work out.
The big grey gelding has had a difficult year, having had colic surgery earlier in the season. “He has recovered really well from that, so it has been a very emotional year as we were so worried about him,” says Martin. “I am very happy with how he came back. I am riding one of the best horses in the world, he has proven it over the years.”
Martin also paid tribute to his family. “They supported me, first when I was riding around the stable, and then training first with my mum and then when I got some skills and I was good enough to train with my dad. Uncle Markus [five-times Olympic show jumper] is also a very special person in my life, I talked with him after the Nations Cup.”
Steve Gerdaut started the show brilliantly, winning the opening speed round, but after that had two rounds “with bloody four faults.” He was therefore very pleased to jump the only clear round under the time today in the final 12, to seize the bronze medal. “My biggest pride today, is my horse. I am just so happy that the whole world can see just how special she is. The most amazing with her is that she loves jumping, she loves what she has to do and every time she sees a jump, she just wants to not just jump it, but fly over it. She gives a feeling which I cannot describe, it is so rare that you can jump classes like this and actually have at the same time have the feeling where you enjoy it so much. She just is very special and I am so honoured and blessed to share my life with an animal like this.”
Having two Swiss riders on the podium was extraordinary, and for Steve, it was extra-special that it was Martin Fuchs there with him. “Having like another brother is even more special. I have an amazing family and an amazing brother, but everyone also knows how special the family Fuchs are to me and we train together, we are neighbours, we talk every day, they are like my second family and they treat me like I am their third son. It really makes it as special as it gets for me.”
It certainly was a great event, and one of the talking points of the show jumping was the performance of the Australian team, who in finishing sixth, have qualified for the Olympics. They also had two in the top 25 and Rowan Willis went on to jump in the top 12 final with his fiery mare, Blue Movie.
Rowan finished with two rails, but was still buzzing from his round: “We have had a great team week, all the boys have been fantastic and to qualify for Tokyo was just incredible,” he says. “My mare to go on and do what she has done, amazing. Unfortunately, today I made a couple of mistakes which has kept us away from the top end of the field.”
Blue Movie is now heading for her paddock in Lexington, Kentucky. Rowan has a plan for next year with the ultimate goal being to get to the Olympics. “She has just improved so much in the last year, by the time Tokyo comes around she will be much more experienced.”
Rowan has been based in the US for the last few months, and will be heading back to the UK in April as he has a few young horses back there. “We will then see what happens. I might have to keep her over here as she is going really well here. There are some good shows here too.”
Fellow Aussies Billy Raymont and Oaks Redwood qualified for the last 25 but struck some trouble early in the course and retired, but can still be proud of their achievements.
“He was trying right from the first fence. He really jumped out over the vertical at number three and straight away it was going to be a short five for me and I just didn’t get back enough. He just wasn’t able to get both back feet down to take off properly. When he gets a bit close when you are hanging on to him, he can sometimes get a little tangled behind, he just missed a step from behind. To turn around and jump through that combination as he did though, it shows what a fighter he is. Obviously that is not how I wanted to finish, but it has been an amazing week.”
|Speed round||1st round||2nd round||3rd round||4th round||Total|
|1||DSP Alice||Simone Blum||GER||2.47||0||0||0||1||3.47|
|5||Admara||Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo||COL||0.81||6||5||0||1||12.81|
|7||Irenice Horta||Lorenzo de Luca||ITA||1.19||0||4||4||5||14.19|
|8||Cold Play||Fredrik Jönsson||SWE||3.23||4||0||5||5||17.23|
|9||Timon d’Aure||Alexis Deroubaix||FRA||3.38||4||1||4||5||17.38|
|12||Blue Movie||Rowan Willis||AUS||0.31||8||0||4||8||20.31|