World of Showjumping
World of ShowjumpingWorld of Showjumping

Inside CSIO Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2023: With Martin Fuchs, Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and Leopoldo Palacios

Monday, 11 September 2023
CSIO5* Spruce Meadows 'Masters' 2023

Fuchs flys to victory in the CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Tom Lovelock Martin Fuchs and Leone Jei, winners of the $3,000,000 CPKC ‘International’, presented by Rolex at Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ 2023. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Tom Lovelock.

Often considered to be one of the toughest and most prestigious show jumping competitions in the world, the CPKC ‘International’ Grand Prix, presented by Rolex held at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament was once again a true spectacle of the world’s best equestrian talent. In total, 34 combinations from 12 nations, including five of the top 10, took on the typically massive course designed by Leopoldo Palacios. 

CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament is the third Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major in the calendar year and the second to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping. 

The first round consisted of 17 fences and 12 combinations and was a true test of stamina, skill, and bravery for both horses and riders. It was third in the ring, Angelie Von Essen, who produced the first clear round of the class with her Selle Francais gelding Alcapone des Carmille. At the halfway mark, only four riders had finished the course faultless, including home favourite Tiffany Foster, who set the ‘International Ring’ alight with a foot-perfect round.

Disappointment came for the newly crowned FEI European Champion and 2021 winner of the class, Steve Guerdat, who was one of 10 riders in the class who faulted at fence 12. Shocks also came as some of the class favourites did not proceed to the second round including world no.4 Ben Maher, winner of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, Scott Brash, and Dutch rider Harrie Smolders.

With the 12 top riders from the opening round proceeding into the next round, those who could produce a fast-four fault round would stay in contention for one of the sport’s most coveted prizes. Such riders included Canada’s Erynn Ballard and Egypt’s Nayel Nassar. In total, five riders cleared the technical course, including Rolex Testimonee Martin Fuchs who impressively jumped a portion of the course with only one stirrup after a huge jump from Leone Jei over the Canadian flag planks...




Interview with Tommy Wheeldon Jr.

Photo © Spruce Meadows Media. Tommy Wheeldon Jr. Photo © Spruce Meadows Media.

Please you tell us about your role and what it entails?

My name is Tommy Wheeldon Jr. and I am the head coach and general manager of Cavalry FC. I have been with the team since its inception – we launched in 2018. I first met Linda [Southern-Heathcott] at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ in September 2017, and first pitched the idea about professional soccer on the ‘International Arena’ during a course walk.

Before joining Cavalry FC how much did you know about the sport of show jumping

Interesting, I had been to Spruce Meadows to watch my stepdaughter, Tatum, compete several times before we launched the team. She is very passionate about equestrianism, as is my wife. When I first met my wife, my stepdaughter was competing regularly, and so I learnt about the sport from them initially. Funnily enough, we had attended an event with the Calgary Flames Family Foundation, and my stepdaughter was invited to ride on what is now at ATCO Field. I remember it being a big deal for her. So yes, I have been around horses a little bit, it was fortuitous that received an invite to join a fellow friend of mine to ‘The Masters’ in 2017.

Have you found any similarities between the sports?

There are definitely similarities between both sports. They are two sports of details. They are both about relationships; if you think about the rider and the horse – they have to trust each other, and it is similar in football your players have to have trust in the tactics, the strategy and the training. 

The layer of detail in equestrianism that is required is astonishing – one error in a 60 second round could cost you the win. This is also the case is soccer, as in a 90-minute game, one error could affect the result. These are both sports of fine margins. 

The utmost professionalism is needed in both sports. For example, if you look at a show jumping, and the training and care that is taken after a horse it is so impressive. This also transcends to soccer in the way that our players are taken care of – from their diet to the way that they train. There are a lot of crossovers...




Interview with Leopoldo Palacios

Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof. Leopoldo Palacios. Photo © Rolex Grand Slam / Ashley Neuhof.

Can you please explain your official role and what this entails?

I am the course designer here at Spruce Meadows, and I have been working here for over 25 years. To be a good course designer you need to have a lot of experience in the sport, and you need to be able to create brilliant competition through your courses. I have a fantastic team that helps me and ensures that we provide the best course possible.

To ensure that the level of the sport continues to grow, it is vital that the horses are looked after, and so it’s a fine line between what is achievable for the horses and riders and what will push the sport forward.

What is so special about the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament?

I consider Spruce Meadows to be my home, and I consider the Southern family to be my family. I have been working here for over 25 years and in my opinion, there is nowhere quite like it. The team is extremely special, and the level of detail and planning that goes into the event is incredibly impressive.

As a course designer, there can be a lot of pressure to build a great course that lives up to the standards of Spruce Meadows, but the team here places their trust and confidence in my work.

The CPKC ‘International’ Grand Prix, presented by Rolex at the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament is often considered to be one of the toughest courses in the world, what makes it so unique?

As a course designer, you have to consider a number of factors including the height and width of the fences, the time allowed, the layout of the course, the design of the fences, and the slope of the ring. It is important for us to focus on all aspects and ensure that a balance is achieved – this is what makes a good Grand Prix – and it is a balance that I think we have achieved here at Spruce Meadows...




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 €1 million bonus.



Previous winners of the Rolex Grand Slam Majors

This photo has been added to your cart !

Your shopping cart »
This website is using cookies for statistics, site optimization and retargeting purposes. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use this website. Read more here.