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Rolex Round Table with Martin Fuchs and Harry Charles: Bringing their best to CHI Geneva

Sunday, 10 December 2023
CHI Geneva 2023

Photo © Rolex. Rolex Testimonees Harry Charles and Martin Fuchs. Photo © Ashley Neuhof/Rolex.

In the lead-up to Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix – the last Major of the year in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, a series that this year celebrates its 10th anniversary – Rolex Testimonees Harry Charles and Martin Fuchs sat down with the media on Saturday to share their first memories from CHI Geneva, their plans for Sunday’s Major, as well as advice for other young riders wanting to break through to the very top. 

“When I attend CHI Geneva, I want to be at my best no matter what I did at previous shows,” Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs – current Live Contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – said when asked whether he felt any added pressure ahead of the last Major of the year. “CHI Geneva is the most important show that I have in the year,” he continued. “It means a lot to compete in front of the home crowd, a lot of my friends and family attend – I have a lot of support. When you are here, you do not think what occurred at the past shows; you only think about wanting to win the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday. Obviously, it would be a nice bonus to remain as the Live Contender but I have not thought about that too much.”

Making dreams come true

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. “When I attend CHI Geneva, I want to be at my best no matter what I did at previous shows,” Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs – current Live Contender in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping – said. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.

“I remember coming to CHI Geneva as a child with my parents, I was always really excited to attend,” Fuchs recalled. “I would think what an incredible show it was and I would dream of competing here one day. The organizers were always so supportive of the of the young riders, I was able to compete here as a junior, at 15 years-old. I remember being able to win a class on the Sunday morning ahead of the FEI World CupTM Final in front of Marcus Ehning when he became a World Cup champion a few hours later. I will always remember this.”

I would dream of competing here one day

- Martin Fuchs -


“It would mean a huge amount,” Great Britain’s Harry Charles – the leading FEI U25 rider and the youngest equestrian Rolex Testimonee – said about the possibility of winning the Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva. “It would be incredible to win my first Major here at the CHI Geneva at the end of the year. It would be something very special. I grew up watching the show and have been coming for four years now. It would mean a lot to win any Major, but I think that it would be very special to do so here. I am not quite sure that this will happen this year, but we will give it our best go, like we do in all of them.” 

“I was 19-years-old when I first attended CHI Geneva,” Charles told. “I came with the Young Riders Academy, which is a brilliant initiative supported by Rolex. It gave me a big leg-up in the sport. The current Young Riders Academy group are here now, you will see them walking around – they have educational sessions where they can watch and learn a lot, it’s inspirational. When I watch an event such as last night, the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, I motivate myself by saying “next year, I am going to be doing that”. I was watching it from the warm-up ring and I told myself that must make sure I make it into the Top 10 for that class next year. When I put my mind to something, I use it as motivation. It was an eye opener when I attended the show for the first time, but it gave me a target to work towards.”

Aralyn Blue and Leone Jei 

Photo © Rolex Harry Charles with Aralyn Blue, who will be his partner in the Rolex Grand Prix. Photo © Ashley Neuhof/Rolex.

“For tomorrow’s Rolex Grand Prix, I will be riding Aralyn Blue,” Charles told about his plan for Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix. “The last few times that I have been here, I have sat and watched the jump-off and it has been very fast. I did not think that anyone would come close to Martin Fuchs when he did his round and I do not know if I could go that fast. Aralyn Blue has that going for her, she can be very fast. We have noticed this year, towards the end of the year, she has been very consistent and we have picked up some good results, so I’m putting my trust in her. I have been thinking about it for the last two or three months; I have been really aiming for this Rolex Grand Prix. She had a nice round on Thursday. Her owner, Ann [Thompson], has come over from America so it would be great to get a good result for her as well. We shall see how it goes; fingers crossed.”

Photo © Rolex “It was an easy decision to ride Leone Jei,” Martin Fuchs shared about his choice of horse for the Rolex Grand Prix in Geneva. Photo © Ashley Neuhof/Rolex.

“It was an easy decision to ride Leone Jei,” Fuchs shared about his choice of horse. “I have been planning up to this show since Spruce Meadows, when he won the Grand Prix. He is so fantastic to ride at these Majors, and also here at CHI Geneva. He has jumped the Rolex Grand Prix here twice; he won one of them and was second in the other one. He really loves to jump these huge fences and to be in front of this crowd and to feel the atmosphere. The past two years, he has really risen to the occasion. I trust him completely; I am going to jump him tonight in the combination class to do some gymnastics before tomorrow. I hope that we will be competing again in the jump-off as that is the most exciting part. Riding in the jump-off of a Rolex Grand Prix is incredibly fast, and there are the best horse-and-rider-combinations. It is really cool to try and be competitive. The goal is always to win a Rolex Grand Prix. Last year, we were close and for the first few minutes I was upset that I did not win, but after a few minutes I was happy again. To achieve second place at my home show was fantastic, a great result. In the past, I have been spoilt with the results that we have achieved here. I know that the day will come that we will have a rail in the first round – it might be tomorrow or another year. If this does occur, I will be back and will try again, but I have a very good feeling for tomorrow [Editor's note: Sunday].”

 I trust Leone Jei completely

- Martin Fuchs -


“Leone Jei took a break after the CSIO Spruce Meadows ‘Masters’ Tournament,” Fuchs continued. “I then did a small round in Verona and one bigger round in Prague to get used to the indoor arena ahead of CHI Geneva. I tried not to do too much before the show but to ensure that he experienced the atmosphere at two different indoor shows to be prepared. This was so Leone Jei could get into the rhythm of things; it worked very well as he felt very good at those shows. I planned a while ago that here at CHI Geneva, we would be jumping in a small class on Thursday followed by the combination class on Saturday ahead of the Rolex Grand Prix on Sunday. This is what I have done for the past two years, and it worked very well for him. He really enjoys being in this ring; he can get quite excited, so I like to jump the day before the Rolex Grand Prix to ensure that he is not too excited and not feeling too fresh.”

A commitment of a lifetime

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. “You have to work very hard, no matter what background you come from,” Martin Fuchs said about achieving success at the highest level. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.

Fuchs, who won the 2022 Rolex Grand Prix at CHI Geneva with Leone Jei as well as the last Major at Spruce Meadows in September, pointed out that if there is any secret to his success, it is all about the support he has from his family – something he and Harry Charles have in common. “We both come from horse families,” Fuchs explained. “It makes it a lot easier, as when I was riding at a young age, I was taught the right way. When I was starting, my basics were good, and my parents were always around keeping an eye on me to ensure that I was not making any small mistakes. Of course, I have always made mistakes, but they did not want me to develop any bad habits whilst riding. I think that is really the key to being so successful so early in my career. Obviously, you can be successful if you come from a different background, but it really helps if you can believe that what you are doing is right and that the basics are right. I feel like I have these basics, and it is great that I can always go back to them and have the support of my family and whole team.”

It is vital to surround yourself with the best people you can that work hard and are dedicated

- Martin Fuchs -


“Everyone is involved; my mother does a lot of the work in the office, and she is very supportive at the shows, and my father is my coach,” Fuchs continued. “We always ride and jump together. I do not think there are five times in the year where I jump at home without my father being there. He is always putting up the jumps and telling me what to do. It is not how you would imagine a real training session, as he doesn’t comment on everything, we know each other so well and he is there to give me advice. He is really good at setting fences; he always lays out a good course, new gymnastics and new lines – it is really interesting. This is one of the greatest things about my father, he always mixes it up, he always tries to learn and observes other people. He brings aspects and ideas from other disciplines – from the trotters and the race horses – he brings in some advice and new ideas on how to keep the horses fit and healthy. This is why he is one of the best horse people.”

Photo © Mackenzie Clark. "Coming from a horse background is a great advantage," Harry Charles said about having experienced so much success at such a young age. Photo © Mackenzie Clark.

“He has played an enormous part of my success,” Charles said about his father Peter, the 2012 Olympic team champion. “Martin said it very well – coming from a horse background is a great advantage. My father was always so strict and tough on the basics and on doing them right. You can go far with good basics but without them it is very difficult. When I was young, it was drilled into me every day. You can carry them forward, but when things do not go so well, you can always have that to fall back on.”

“My dad tries to come to all the shows that he can,” Charles continued. “I have two sisters who are coming up the level a bit now, so he is spending a bit more time with them. My mum is just as important, but does not get mentioned as much as you do not see her in the warm-up or at shows, but she keeps everything running at home. I am very lucky, my sisters are two great riders so when I go to a show, I trust them with my horses. They keep the horses fit and happy so it makes my life a lot easier when I come home on a Monday and have to go again on a Thursday.”

 My father was always so strict and tough on the basics and on doing them right

- Harry Charles -


“You have to work very hard, no matter what background you come from,” Fuchs pointed out. “You need to work hard and be smart about the manner you do so. It does not help if you ride 15 horses a day if you do not have a trainer or teacher to help you. My advice would be to surround yourself with the right people. This is key as it does not help just riding eight hours a day, it is vital to surround yourself with the best people you can that work hard and are dedicated.”

“As we said earlier, it is so important to focus on the basics,” Charles agreed. “You need to learn to do them correctly so then you have a very solid foundation to build on. You want to surround yourself with the best people you can, good people; it does not have to be a lot of them, but the ones that you can trust. It is important to learn about your horse – whether they are tricky or difficult. You should find out what makes them tick, what they like and what they do not like. Becoming a good horseman will help you going forward. Those are the three things that are important.”

The Rolex-family

Photo © Rolex “I am very proud of be part of the Rolex family," Martin Fuchs told the media. Photo © Rolex.

The Rolex-family of equestrian Testimonees is another group whose support both Fuchs and Charles appreciate. “When I came to CHI Geneva for the first time four years ago, I had just joined the Rolex-family of equestrian Testimonees,” Charles recalled. “We all went to a lunch together and I was a little bit intimidated as I did not really think that I should have been there. I was very grateful to have been selected to join the Rolex-family. I had not achieved that much back then but I will be forever grateful for the trust and what they saw in me. I am very proud to be back four years later, and hopefully can prove that it was the right decision. There are so many great riders, we are going to have lunch later today, and we will talk a bit and I will pick things up from Martin for example, and Jerome Dubbeldam, Steve Guerdat and Scott Brash – the list goes on. There are so many world class athletes, it is an honour to be a part of this special group.”

You really want to be at the top of your game at the Rolex shows

- Martin Fuchs -


“I am very proud of be part of the Rolex family, and it is cool that when we have our lunches and meetings; we support each other more than just a normal rider,” Fuchs filled in. “I always hope that Rolex Testimonees will do well at shows as I know how much it means Rolex and how supportive they are of us. We try to give back as much as we can. This is why we always come to these shows with our best horses, and to try to plan our year around those shows. You really want to be at the top of your game at the Rolex shows. It is always nice to see a Rolex Testimonee win.”


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