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Martin Fuchs: “Clooney really has showed that he is one of the best horses out there”

Sunday, 25 August 2019
Longines FEI European Championships 2019

Quotes after the Longines FEI European Championships 2019

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Martin Fuchs with Clooney, his owner Luigi Baleri and his groom Sean Vard. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.


Text © World of Showjumping



Gold medallist Martin Fuchs (SUI), silver medallist Ben Maher (GBR), bronze medallist Jos Verlooy (BEL) as well as Marc Houtzager (NED) – best of the Dutch – met the press after their podium celebrations in Rotterdam. Here’s what they had to say as the Longines FEI European Championships 2019 came to a close. 



Martin Fuchs: 

On his medal chances 

“I had a fault on the first day in the speed class, which was my mistake as I took a lot of risk and then he (Clooney) struggled in the last combination. But, he has been great every day – actually getting better and better over each round which is one of his best qualities. I was saying already before coming into the final today that if I do my job, if I do the small things right, then he wouldn’t let me down and that he would keep the poles up as he does most of the time.”

“I was pretty sure I could still make it, but not as a winner. I just thought I could medal. I have been higher up on the first day at other championships, and I was talking with a good friend of mine and he said ‘now you’ll come once from behind and this time you will make it’. I didn’t think it would be good enough for the gold medal, but I knew if I jumped four clear rounds a medal would be possible.”

 Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping A kiss for Clooney! Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

On his special bond with Clooney: 

“It’s pretty special. I got Clooney when he was at the end of his 7th year. He was already a very good young horse, and won the Swiss Championships when he was 8. He won a medal at the Europeans in Aachen when he was 9 with the team, he was 4th in the World Cup Final in Omaha, medalled again at the Europeans in Gothenburg with the team, then last year we were second at the World Equestrian Games and this year we were second at the World Cup Final – now the gold medal. Clooney really has showed that he is one of the best horses out there, and for me the best horse I could have ever wished for. He just jumps one clear after the other, he is very intelligent, very smart, he stays focused on the fence and he knows exactly where to put his legs. He is not the most spectacular jumper but very effective and just an amazing horse.”

On Clooney’s previous cheeky side:

“As most of you know I was very close to winning the Grand Prix of Aachen with Clooney a few years ago. It was definitely a devastating moment in my career but even this made us so much stronger. I still think a lot about it, but not in a bad way. I took it as an experience and tried to bring this experience into something positive for the future of my career, and I think that was the right way to handle this situation.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Clearing that last fence! Martin Fuchs and Clooney. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

On his family and team: 

“I have a great team with my groom Sean Vard. He’s been with me a couple of years and he is a great groom, friend, supporter – definitely the best person that has ever followed me to the shows. Then, my family, my parents and especially my owner Luigi and his wife Ursula that are always there supporting me. Unfortunately, my girlfriend Paris could not be here this week, she is California, but she has been up all night to support me and to watch me and I had a little chat with her before my round. She said, ‘don’t worry, you will win it!’”

On his owner Luigi Baleri: 

“Luigi has been with me since I was a junior, I have been riding for him for 13 years. He’s the best and easiest owner you could ask for, he’s always with me at the shows. He’s very uncomplicated and never interferes with the plan for the horses, he never asks questions – he is always a big supporter. For me, he is also a bit like my second father since we have been doing shows together since I was a junior. He has been driving me to the shows, and we are like best friends.”

On the fact that this gold came exactly nine years after his gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games: 

“It’s funny that you mention this, because this morning on Facebook I had a notification that today nine years ago I won the Youth Olympic Games together with Nicola Philippaerts. Then I send him the story this morning and said I’ hope that’s a good sign for today’.”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Ben Maher with the "amazing" Explosion W. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Ben Maher: 

On Explosion W: 

“The breeders of Explosion have been here all week, we bought him from them when he was seven years old. He was always under my program, but with the stable riders for 1 ½-2 years and then I took over – I’ve been on him for just over two years now. He has an incredible clear round ratio, he is an amazing horse and I’m very, very lucky that Poden Farms supports me and lets me ride such a horse.”

 Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Jos Verlooy with his mum Nena and dad Axel. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Jos Verlooy: 

On his week: 

“It was a great week, I am delighted for my horse – he has been jumping great this week and I am very happy that I gave my horse this medal because he really deserves it. He is by Emerald, and he was really stepping into his father’s footsteps today and I’m very proud of him.”

On his team and owners: 

“I would also like to thank Graziella Janssen – the owner of Igor – and my parents, without his owner I would not have been sitting here as I think he would have been sold. And of course, to my whole team and my groom Jenny who always looks after my horses – it means a lot!”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Marc Houtzager, best of the Dutch with Sterrehof's Calimero. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

Marc Houtzager – best of the Dutch: 

On his week: 

“I had a really good week, maybe a bit unlucky the second day with one down and today with one down in the first round. In the second round he jumped really great, but it was not a round like normal. Anyway, I’m really happy!”

On the interference in his second round and how he coped with it:

“From jump two to three I heard a lot of noise. I thought maybe I jumped the wrong course so I looked backwards because vertical no. nine was also there in the area. Then I kept on going, and before the triple combination I saw something there but I was so concentrated on my course so I kept on going.”



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