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From youngster to international Grand Prix horse: Clooney 51

Tuesday, 07 January 2020
Interview

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Clooney 51 and Martin Fuchs celebrate their gold medal at the European Championships 2019 in Rotterdam. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

 

Text © World of Showjumping by Nanna Nieminen

 


 

Over the past years, the 14-year-old grey Westphalian gelding Clooney 51 (Cornet Obolensky x Ferragamo) has been one of the world’s most successful horses. With Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs in the saddle, the grey gelding – bred by Bernd Richter and owned by Luigi Baleri – won the Longines FEI European Championships in Rotterdam last August. The pair ended their incredible 2019-season with a win in the CSI5* 1.60m Rolex Grand Prix in Geneva in December, pushing Fuchs into the world number one position on the Longines Ranking as the new year got underway. A silver medal at the World Equestrian Games in 2018, two team bronze medals from the European Championships in 2015 and 2017 as well as a Vice Champion title from the Longines FEI World Cup Finals in 2019 are also part of their long list of achievements together.

“Clooney was already great as a young horse,” Martin Fuchs tells World of Showjumping. “Before we bought him, he placed well in the German Championships for Young Horses in Warendorf and in the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in Lanaken as a 7-year-old. I loved him already from watching his videos, and then even more when I tried him,” Fuchs recalls.

“When he was young, I tried to show him all the impressive rings I could and already did some bigger classes with him as an 8-year-old,” Fuchs tells about the plan he followed when carefully producing Clooney to the level where he is at now. “Clooney is very smart. He knows when it counts and he doesn’t want to touch the poles,” Fuchs tells when listing Clooney’s best qualities.

Photo © www.sportfotos-lafrentz.de/ Stefan Lafrentz Clooney 51 with Jana Wargers in Verden in 2013. “With him you knew that every time you would go in the ring, you would be clear!" the German rider tells. Photo © www.sportfotos-lafrentz.de/ Stefan Lafrentz.

Before Fuchs took over the reins, it was Germany’s Jana Wargers who rode Clooney. “I got Clooney in my stable in the middle of his 6-year-old season. He was given to me by Antonius Schulze Averdiek, to ride and develop,” Wargers tells. “Back then I was working for Kurt Holz. When Clooney arrived, he didn’t look like the fittest athlete. He had a fat belly and he was missing some front teeth. The first time I sat on him, he still felt very inexperienced and you could feel he had a strong character,” she continues. “On the jump he had his own style. During the first months, I didn’t feel all the scope but he developed round by round,” Wargers says.

“Clooney has always been very careful,” Wargers tells. “With him you knew that every time you would go in the ring, you would be clear! We started with some national shows for 6-year-olds, without pushing him too much. Then, as a 7-year-old, he really started to show his quality and what a special horse he is. Our first bigger success was winning the final for the 7-year-old horses at the Magna Racino Spring Tour in 2013. After that, he did very well in the youngster tour at CSI4* Münster, at the German Championships for Young Horses in Warendorf and eventually, we finished 6th at the FEI WBFSH Jumping World Breeding Championship for Young Horses in Lanaken in 2013. Then I understood that the chances that he would be staying in my stable were small, because everybody wanted him,” Wargers tells.

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping “Clooney is very smart. He knows when it counts and he doesn’t want to touch the poles,” Fuchs tells. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Martin Fuchs and my partner Michael Cristofoletti are very close friends. At the time when Clooney was seven, Martin was looking for a special young horse. Michael told him about Clooney and organized the trial,” Wargers explains. “When Martin and his father Thomas arrived, the first impression wasn’t that it was love at first sight – especially because of how Clooney is built. He has a concave back and a fat belly. But when Martin jumped him the first day and then one more time the morning after, you could see that they had found each other.”

Wargers is proud to follow her former mount’s success with Fuchs. “Martin and his team did an amazing job over the years, because Clooney has a strong character,” she says. “They took their time and put hard work into him to get to where they are now, and we are very proud of them. It is amazing for me and Michael to watch Clooney and Martin now, and we are such big fans of them. Everywhere they go, we follow the results or livestreams!”

“Michael is one of my best friends, which makes it even nicer that he found Clooney for me,” Fuchs says about the success story. “I’m in touch with them every week and they follow Clooney at every show.”

 

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