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Highlights from the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final 2023

Thursday, 14 December 2023
CHI Geneva 2023
Masked picture

Photo © Mackenzie Clark

“It is like a love story, really,” Switzerland’s national treasure Steve Guerdat told World of Showjumping about his emotional connection to the traditional venue at CHI Geneva after winning the 2023 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final in front of a fully packed Palexpo last Friday night. “For all these years, I keep coming back and I have been very lucky to have had a lot of success here. My family and friends are here, and even though every win is special, every win here is even more special.” 

Riding the 14-year-old gelding Venard de Cerisy (Open Up Semilly x Djalisco du Guet, bred by Laurent & Gabrielle Vincent), Guerdat took his third Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final-title. 

And with this photo special, we look back at the action at Palexpo through the magical lens of Mackenzie Clark. 

All photos © Mackenzie Clark. No reproduction of any of the content in this article will be accepted without a written permission, all rights reserved © World of and Mackenzie Clark. If copyright violations occur, a penalty fee will apply. 

Photo © Mackenzie Clark The class of 2023: Harrie Smolders, Simon Delestre, Steve Guerdat, Ben Maher, Kent Farrington, Henrik von Eckermann, Julien Epaillard, Martin Fuchs, Shane Sweetnam and Max Kühner.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Prior to the 22nd edition of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, Kent Farrington and Steve Guerdat had both won the prestigious final on two previous occasions; Farrington in 2015 with Voyeur and in 2019 with Austria 2 and Guerdat in 2010 with Jalisca Solier and in 2018 with Alamo.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark France had two riders in the final this year; the current rank eight Simon Delestre and current rank six Julien Epaillard.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Switzerland's Martin Fuchs greeting the Palexpo-crowds during the traditional parade before the action got underway.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Kent Farrington...

Photo © Mackenzie Clark ...and Julien Epaillard saying hi to the enthusiastic audience at CHI Geneva.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark The newly elected IJRC President Francois Mathy Jr. walked the course with Alban Poudret.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Ireland's Shane Sweetnam and James Kann Cruz were the first pair out in round one.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Full on focus mode from the pathfinders.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Sweetnam and James Kann Cruz made it all look like a walk in the park, posting a picture-perfect clear.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Set by Gérard Lachat and Louis Konickx, the first-round track challenged the exceptional starting field of the very best horse-and-rider-combinations in the world with its delicate lines. Second out, Harrie Smolders and Monaco N.O.P. picked up 12 faults. This was also the end result for Max Kühner, who finished 10th behind Smolders in 9th. With a score of four and eight over the two rounds, Julien Epaillard finished 8th – also he on a score of 12 penalties overall.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. France's Simon Delestre and Dexter Fontenis Z entering the arena.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Chasing that third title...

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Guerdat and Venard de Cerisy lifted up the roof at Palexpo when delivering the second clear of the night.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. “For all these years, I keep coming back and I have been very lucky to have had a lot of success here," Guerdat said.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Full on power-mode from Martin Fuchs and Conner Jei, who picked up eight faults in round one – eventually ending 5th after a clear in round two.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Kent Farrington and Greya had an unfortunate fault in the middle of the triple combination in the first round.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. “I am very proud to have her jump at this level today," Farrington said about his 9-year-old Greya.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Great Britain's Harry Charles was there to support his compatriot Ben Maher.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Ben Maher and Faltic HB ran into trouble at the triple combination – ending the first round on eight penalties, to eventually finish 7th after a clear in the second round.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark The 2022-title defenders Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward delivered the third clear in round one.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark “The first round felt great," von Eckermann said.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. As the riders returned to the second round in reverse order, von Eckermann made sure to watch the first few before running to the warm-up.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. True to tradition, the riders stay for ring-side interviews with Alban Poudret after their second round. Here Ben Maher's Faltic HB leaves the ring with his groom Derren Lake.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Simon Delestre and Dexter Fontenis Z jumped a very fast clear in round two, keeping on their score of eight faults from round one to eventually finish fourth.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. A job well done! Kent Farrington's Greya with Denise Moriarty after going clear in the second round and eventually completing the podium in third on a score of four faults from round one.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Guerdat and Venard de Cerisy were the first of three clears to return for round two...

Photo © Mackenzie Clark ...and they delivered again, posting the only double clear of the night.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Henrik von Eckermann with his wife Janika Sprunger.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. A fence down in round two shattered the Swede's dreams of another Rolex IJRC Top 10-title, pushing him down to second behind Guerdat.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. "Now, Steve has won this three times and I have been second three times," von Eckermann said. "King Edward did an amazing job as always, so I am really pleased with him."

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Shane Sweetnam and James Kann Cruz went from pathfinders to being the last pair out to decide the title. With eight penalties in round two, the two had to settle for 6th in the end – leaving the title with Guerdat.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Guerdat's wife Fanny Guerdat Skalli.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark We love you! Kisses to James Kann Cruz from Shane Sweetnam's wife Ali.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Janika Sprunger getting her husband Henrik von Eckermann ready for the prize giving ceremony.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Harrie Smolder's Monaco N.O.P. and Yvonne Neu Jönsson waiting for the prize giving ceremony to start.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. The darling of the CHI Geneva crowds: Steve Guerdat.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. The Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final 2023 podium: Henrik von Eckermann, Steve Guerdat and Kent Farrington.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. The top 10 grooms: Caroline Belouet, Pauline Honoret, Maria Israelsson, Derren Lake, Louise Barraud, Emma Uusi-Simola, Denise Moriarty, Sean Vard, Yvonne Neu Jönsson and Mariella Offner.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Steve Guerdat with his long-time supporters and horse owners, Gianluca Agustoni and Sabina Cartossi.

Photo © Mackenzie Clark Congratulations Team Guerdat!

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. Over and out from the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final 2023!

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