Switzerland's hugely talented Martin Fuchs won the Gucci Grand Prix in Paris this afternoon riding PSG Future (Cashandcarry x Lorentin). The only 22 year old rider beat a star studded field of riders, defeating seasoned names such as Ludger Beerbaum, Steve Guerdat, Daniel Deusser and Scott Brash in the thirteen horse jump-off. Beerbaum had to settle for second place aboard Zinedine (Guidam x Heartbreaker), while another young talent ended third – Constant van Paesschen on Citizenguard Toscan de Sainte Hermelle (Surcouf de Revel x Bayac de Sainte Hermelle).
It was a huge and long course that waited for the 44 riders in the class. Faults spread out, but quite a few had problems in the triple combination at 9abc where a vertical-vertical-oxer waited with a short stride and then a long causing either the second or third element to fall. Some horses also ran a bit empty towards the end of the fourteen fence track and had a pole down in the penultimate combination.
In the end, thirteen riders managed to go clear to move on to the jump-off. Roger Yves Bost was particularly unlucky to only record a time fault that kept him out of the race against the clock. With so many good names in it, the jump-off was always going to be a fast affair and the packed house of amazing French spectators were definitely going to be up for a treat.
Philippe Rozier had made the crowds go nuts when he produced the first clear of the class on Rahotep de Toscane (Quidam de Revel x Laudanum xx), and set another clear in round two with a time of 37.20 seconds. The pressure was on for the rest.
Martin Fuchs was the next rider in the ring. Getting a super rhythm from the beginning around the shortened seven fence track, the Swiss rider got everything right. His turn to the fifth fence – a plank – gave him a great angle which saved time down to the combination where PSG Future really showed his careful side. Then Fuchs set off on the final stretch to the last Gucci vertical to leave it all intact and stopping the clock on 34.58 seconds.
Although there were still eleven riders to come, nobody could catch Fuchs' time without paying the bill in the form of rails down or additional time. Lauren Hough was super-fast, but had the last vertical down after going flat out on Ohlala (Orlando x Cardento). Constant van Paesschen was clear, but slightly slower on the time at 34.80 and was also a little lucky that the top rail at the third vertical stayed in the cups when he slotted into second place. Crowd favourite Abdelkebir Ouaddar and the lovely Quickly de Kreisker (Diamant de Semilly SF x Laudanum XX) had the plank down after coming too far off. Gucci ambassador Edwina Tops-Alexander did another great clear on a very well jumping Fair Light van't Heike (Vigo D'Arsouilles x Darco), a performance that eventually bring her the fifth place. Both Gregory Wathelet and Daniel Deusser had a rail down in the combination, while Penelope Leprevost had to see the back pole on the second oxer fall to the ground.
Ludger Beerbaum's Zinedine had jumped a fantastic first round, and continued to play his way around in the jump-off. Coming in to the final vertical it looked like the German maestro would be faster than Fuchs, but when the clock stopped he was 0.09 seconds behind and took over the second place from Constant – and adding some age into the podium.
Surprisingly Scott Brash had one down on Hello Sanctos (Quasimodo V. Molendreef x Nabab de Reve), who had jumped an unbelievable first round and Kevin Staut also had to see a rail in the combination fall to the ground. As last to go it was all down to Steve Guerdat and Albfuehren's Paille (by Kannan), but although the two were fast they were not fast enough and slotted into fourth. Steve took it as a real sportsman does though and saluted his compatriot Fuchs instead, giving him a hug before he left the ring as Martin entered to celebrate his win – one of his biggest to date, but for sure there will be more to come for this talented rider.
On his jump-off, Fuchs said to World of Showjumping; "I started normal fast, and then I did not quite get the turn I planned to the vertical at number three. Then I thought now I have to take the risk, so I did one less to the combination even if they told me that I should not do it. I knew from the beginning that I would do it, and my horse jumped super. Then to the last one I took a bit back. I was sure that I would not win. There were some really fast riders coming and I did not have the perfect jump-off."
"I have had PSG Future for three years now; since he was seven. He was always really careful, but he developed the scope over the years. He did his first 1.60 classes in the beginning of this year, and often had one or two down – but we knew that he could do it and now he jumps it easy. He is really good to ride, is top careful and has a good canter," Fuchs explained of his winning partner.
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