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The Backstage Pass: Alban Poudret

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping Alban Poudret, Sport Director for CHI Geneva. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

CHI Geneva, one of the highlights of the indoor calendar, is getting closer. World of Showjumping caught up with Sport Director Alban Poudret to hear about the 59th edition of the event, and what the spectators can expect when the curtains go up on 12th of December. 

“We are delighted that hosting the 19th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final guarantees having all the best riders in the world here,” Poudret opens with a smile. “And Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix, one leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, makes great competition a certainty. On top of that, several other important competitions and Geneva specialities will be staged, for example the Trophée de Genève on Thursday evening or a competition over combinations (with a quadruple) and Saturday’s Grande Chasse speed class featuring the lake. Spectators will be delighted to see the world’s top riders, Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs, but all their most feared challengers will be highly motivated too. The line-up is remarkable, as it includes 17 of the Top 20 ranked riders. The 5* show jumping competitions feature riders from 17 countries, and a total of 22 countries and all five continents are represented across all three disciplines. Once again, we will be hosting a round of the FEI Driving World Cup, with Boyd Exell, Bram Chardon, Jérôme Voutaz and Co. And prior to the Top 10, opening the Friday evening session, there will be an exciting indoor cross-country race featuring some of the discipline’s top riders. Along with Sophie Mottu Morel, contest director, we are all committed to the event’s diversity!”

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "Sunday’s Rolex Grand Prix, one leg of the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, makes great competition a certainty," Poudret says. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

One of this year’s innovations at CHI Geneva is the CSI U25. Promoting the young generation forms part of the CHI Geneva philosophy, Poudret explains. “In fact, even way back in the Eighties, we were already putting on a horse-pony relay race, involving both stars and youngsters. Then, in the years around the turn of the century, we organised a novelty speed competition where the champions had to ride bareback against talented young pony riders. That’s not something we can expect today’s top riders to do. We went on to organize a mini Nations Cup pitting juniors and young riders against the stars. And this year, we’re introducing a CSI U25 open to 28 young riders, 19 of them from abroad,” Poudret tells. “There will be three competitions, including a Grand Prix counting for world rankings. We’ve been inundated with applications but only the best, including many European medallists and some riders from further afield, will be in the line-up. We have a duty to help the young generation, to encourage young talent, and we will incidentally be welcoming to Geneva four current members of the Young Riders Academy, two in the 5* and two in the CSI U25."

Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping "The 19th Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final guarantees having all the best riders in the world here,” Poudret says, here at work interviewing Peder Fredricson. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping

The program at CHI Geneva is not limited to showjumping Poudret explains: “Saturday will feature multiple disciplines, with 5* show jumping, the U25 GP, driving, and a great party to finish the day. As I already said, we’re committed to this diversity. There will also be some spectacular displays and breeding competitions in the N°2 arena, as our aim is to make this day a real horse festival. Saturday will be a family day, so we need to have variety and avoid overlong competitions. The most challenging show jumping competitions will be the afternoon’s Coupe de Genève with its combination fences and the U25 GP, and in the evening will come the speed competition and the big event, the Credit Suisse Challenge."

"The day will finish on a lighter note, with the MasterShow – a mix of disciplines where the riders will step outside their comfort zone. The event was staged for ten years from 1997, then again to mark our 50th in 2010. We have had Ulrich Kirchhoff performing a dressage routine facing backwards, Piero D’Inzeo making a comeback at 74, Tomas Ericsson and Malin Baryard as Tarzan and Jane, Markus Fuchs as a clown teaching his brother Thomas to ride, Princess Haya dropping from the roof to do some trick riding, and Steve Guerdat jumping with a mule… Some great surprises are in store for spectators this year too. Cathy Fankhauser, Michel Sorg and I are really enjoying preparing for it! I can already tell you that the eventing riders will present a compilation of their three disciplines, world champions Jacques Ferrari and Lambert Leclezio will be inviting the show jumpers to join them in some trick riding, the amazing Horsemen Team of human-horses will be attempting some Puissance jumps, urged on by outstanding comedian Carlos Mota Ribas, and the evening will close with music and partying. It will be fun, fun, fun!” Poudret closes off. 

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