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Inside CHI Geneva: Behind the stable door with Louise Persson and a word from the organiser with Sophie Mottu Morel

Friday, 09 December 2022
CHI Geneva 2022
Masked picture

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder Louise Persson. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder.

Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and VDL Edgar M win the Trophée de Genève

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder Marlon Modolo Zanotelli and VDL Edgar M, winners of the Trophée de Genève. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder.

 

Press release from Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping 

 


 

Staged in the Palexpo’s iconic Geneva Arena, 50 riders, representing 15 nations, contested Friday’s feature class – the Trophée de Genève – on the second day of 2022’s edition of CHI Geneva. The stellar line-up starred no fewer than 17 of the world’s current top 20-ranked riders, including world number one, Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann and fellow Swede Peder Fredricson, Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Live Contender, Daniel Deusser, local favourite Martin Fuchs and previous Major winner Max Kühner, all of whom would be hoping for a spectacular finish in this 1.60m class in order to qualify for Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix. 

With no obviously tricky fences standing out, at the halfway point, 12 riders out of 25 starters graduated to the jump-off after navigating the Gérard Lachat-designed course fault-free, including current Individual Olympic champion Ben Maher, the in-form American McLain Ward, and last year’s winner of the Coupe de Genève, Harry Charles and his mount Borsato. After the break, the crowd was treated to another six clear rounds and some exceptional levels of horsemanship from riders including the up-and-coming 24-year-old Gilles Thomas, a key member of Belgium’s 2022 Nations Cup Final-winning team. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for CHI Geneva debutant, 23-year-old Briton Joseph Stockdale, who, after a super smooth round, picked up an agonising time fault. 

Into the jump-off and it was evident early on that the shortened course was proving more of a test than the first round, with the British duo of Maher and Charles, Swedish duo of von Eckermann and Fredricson and America duo of Kraut and Ward all accruing faults. Last year’s Rolex Grand Prix champion, Martin Fuchs and Shane Sweetnam bucked this trend, both jumping fault-free, but with the Irishman eclipsing the Swiss maestro’s time by an impressive 12.06 seconds, which appeared to be unassailable. However, the sole representative from Luxembourg, Victor Bettendorf, soon went one better than Sweetnam, beating him into second place by 0.28 seconds. With just a handful of riders left to go, Bettendorf looked to have things sewn up, but a determined Marlon Modolo Zanotelli from Brazil flew around the seven-combination jump-off over a second quicker than Bettendorf, thereby taking the victory with his superstar partner VDL Edgar M.

Thrilled with his 13-year-old chestnut gelding’s performance in both rounds, Modolo Zanotelli commented: “He was amazing – he has had such an incredible season, and this is his last show of the year. To have a victory this early in the show is definitely something incredibly special."

“I was lucky to go towards the end of the class so I could watch the rest of the riders and know what I had to do. I know my horse incredibly well now and know his strengths which meant I could take some risks at the beginning of the course – luckily today that was enough to win.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix and asked if he will be partnered by Edgar, Modolo Zanotelli said: “That is the plan, but I am jumping Like A Diamond in the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final tomorrow so we will see how she goes and then make a final decision.”

 


 

Behind the stable door: Louise Persson

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder Louise Persson. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder.

Tell us a little bit about your journey to CHI Geneva…

I flew from Miami to Belgium with Nayel Nassar’s Coronado and Igor Van De Wittemoere five days ago, and we stayed there until Tuesday night, before arriving in Geneva yesterday morning. They are feeling good and are in a great mood. They both travelled extremely well, eating and drinking plenty. They are very kind, friendly and talented horses. Coronado and Igor travelled in a double container. There are also containers called ‘triples’, which hold three horses, but the horses have less room. To ensure they have a more comfortable journey, we always ship our horses in a double. 

This time the plane was also full of flowers, which were being transported to Amsterdam – there were lots of tulips so the whole flight smelt beautiful! The flight is a little cold, as the horses travel better when they are cool, and it’s also better for the flowers. We also had one boat engine on the flight; generally, as well as horses, these cargo flights transport all sorts of things – cars, washing machines, pretty much anything you can think of. The grooms sit behind the pilots’ cockpit and from there we have access to check on the horses, which is what we’re doing every second hour or sometimes every hour, depending on how they travel. 

It must be very important to monitor a horse’s hydration, nutrition and wellbeing when they fly?

Yes. Some of the horses don’t drink very well when they fly, so we try to give them a bit of wet mash, which we sometimes add apple juice to, as a way of hydrating them. The hay that they eat of the plane contains a lot of electrolytes, which hydrates them even more. It’s also important to make sure that the horses are properly fed and hydrated and fully prepared before any type of plane journey.

 


 

A word with the organiser: Sophie Mottu Morel

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder Sophie Mottu Morel. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Peggy Schröder.

You must be delighted that this year’s edition of the CHI Geneva is going ahead with full capacity?

It is completely amazing! Ticket sales for this year’s edition of the show have been great. I think we will have a full house on Sunday, and maybe even Friday and Saturday. I cannot explain why this year has been so good for sales, maybe it is Clooney’s [Clooney 51] retirement ceremony or the chance that Martin Fuchs may win the Rolex Grand Prix again for a historic and successive third time. We are happy to see that a lot of people want to come to the show this year. I think people want to be  hereto share in a special memory with other people and to cheer for a Swiss victory. Also, last year CHI Geneva was the only event in Geneva in December, so maybe last year people discovered the show and have decided to come back this year. 

This year we have an extra day of competition on Wednesday, and we have opened up the show to everyone, as it will be free to enter. This is one of our philosophies to make CHI Geneva accessible to everyone and gain a new audience for our sport.

Is there anything new to this year’s schedule at CHI Geneva? 

Yes, the Prix Credit Suisse, comprising three National Jumping classes on the first day of the show. These past years, the competitions were held on Thursday, Friday and Saturday but we realised it would be hard for the riders to get here because the traffic in Geneva in the mornings is difficult, and it’s also easier for the National riders to only come to the show on one day. It also means that we can give the volunteers a break during these mornings, as they do not have to be at the Palexpo so early, and it is also nice for us, the organisers, to have a few quieter mornings!

 


 

About the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping

The Rolex Grand Slam is considered by the sport to be the ultimate equestrian challenge, primarily due to the sporting prowess required to achieve this feat. It is a quest taken on by the world’s top riders, vying to secure the legendary status associated with winning the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping.

The format of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping is simple: anyone who wins three Majors in a row receives the Rolex Grand Slam trophy and a €1 million bonus on top of the class’s prize-money. If that same rider then continues their success by winning a fourth Major in succession, they will be rewarded with an additional €1million bonus. If two shows are won in succession, the bonus is €500,000 or if an athlete wins only 2 majors in a period of four successive shows, the bonus is €250,000.



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