Swiss bliss for Martin Fuchs
Flinging his helmet into the air in jubilation, Swiss rider Martin Fuchs was in a celebratory mood after a last-minute victory on home soil in this weekend's Longines FEI Jumping World Cup qualifier in Basel. Riding Clooney, the 27-year-old and his grey gelding – who also won the 2018 Grand Prix in Basel a year ago – have been in exceptional form in recent months.
The man in second in those standings, Belgium’s Pieter Devos (riding Apart in Basel), was one of three starters alongside Fuchs and the Netherlands’ Marc Houtzager (Sterrehof’s Calimero) to make it into the tie-breaking jump-off at the St. Jakobshalle arena. To get there, they had to ride clear and within the 68-second time limit imposed for the first round on designer Frank Rothenberger’s challenging course.
Others, including Ireland’s Bertram Allen on Molly Malone V, just missed out on advancing, with the Irish pair racing to a breakneck time of 65.28 s but incurring four faults to finish eighth. And so it came down to the three finalists, with Fuchs – whose father and uncle are former top international riders – riding last and needing to beat Houtzager’s clear round in 38.84 s and Devos’ 36.98 s ride with four faults.
For his part, FEI Jumping Director John Roche praised the inaugural World Cup event in Basel: “The event has been organised to the highest standard, there was a completely full house today and the atmosphere was electric, A home win went to the last man into the arena, so you couldn’t have written a better script for a fantastic day of sport!” The highest-ranking British rider in the 1.60-metre class was Laura Renwick, in 35th, while Michael Whitaker retired from the qualifier in Switzerland. The next stop on the league circuit is Leipzig, Germany, followed by Amsterdam and Bordeaux.