Ward Third As Guerdat Steals the Show In Geneva

Steve Guerday flanked by Henrik von Eckermann and McLain Ward
Credit : CHI Genevé

Saturday 08 December - 11h24 | Edited Press Releases

Ward Third As Guerdat Steals the Show In Geneva

The Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final always promises to bring top class sport, with the world’s best riders competing for the coveted trophy, and this year did not disappoint. It was a home win for Swiss hero, Steve Guerdat aboard Alamo, who thrilled the crowd with a gasp provoking round in the time of 39.75 seconds. Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann was close behind but could not shave the milliseconds needed off the former Olympic champion’s time. Team World Champion, USA’s McLain Ward and his stunning mare Clinta, produced a textbook round to claim the third podium spot.  

A second win for Guerdat

A second win for Guerdat - Ward Third As Guerdat Steals the Show In Geneva

Credit : CHI Geneve

The class is  where only the world’s top 10 ranked riders are invited to compete to be named the best among them. The elite roster of riders that gathered to take on this imposing course included Rolex’s equestrian Testimonees, Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs.

World-renowned course designer, Gérard Lachat formulated an imposing and technically challenging course staged over two rounds, ensuring a thrilling competition for the enthralled crowd. First to enter the infamous Palexpo arena was Great Britain’s Ben Maher riding Explosion W, leaving the equestrian fans gasping as he hit the first fence in the Rolex combination and left the arena on 19 faults.

The first clear of the night came from Niels Bruynseels riding Gancia de Muze, exhibiting precision and determination as he glided around the course, finishing in 63.03 seconds, therefore setting the bar high for the forthcoming riders.

As the curtains to the arena entrance opened to unveil one of the home favourites and Rolex’s newest Testimonee Martin Fuchs, the crowd rose to their feet to witness his immaculate clear round riding in his first Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. World no.1, Harrie Smolders came next, producing an effortless round and going clear in the second quickest time, finishing just behind Bruynseels on the leaderboard. The arena was then treated to a second Swiss rider, as Rolex Testimonee and 2010 winner Steve Guerdat contended. Guerdat has been on top form this year and the mesmerized crowd produced a deafening applause as he cleared this demanding course in a time of 63.78 seconds.

Daniel Deusser, McLain Ward and Henrik von Eckermann also went clear, ending the first round in the competition with a total of seven clears and ensuring an exciting climax in the second round.

Deusser was first to go with Tobago and put pressure on his competitors by producing a fast-paced faultless round in a time of 41.53 seconds, moving him to the top of the leaderboard. However next to come was Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat, electrifying the arena with his bold and precision riding, executing a perfect clear round and beating Deusser’s time by 1.78 seconds.

Fellow Swiss rider and Rolex Testimonee, Martin Fuchs produced a beautiful clear but despite his best efforts was unable to beat Guerdat’s time. Clear rounds were also executed by Henrik von Eckermann and McLain, but neither rider could top the leaderboard. Hoping to emulate his earlier round, Harrie Smolders made a valiant attempt but it was not to be as he exited the arena on four faults. Winner of The Dutch Masters in March this year, and last to go, was Niels Bruynseels, known as one of the fastest riders on the circuit, Bruynseels attempted to out-pace Guerdat but paid the price by bringing a fence down.

The patriotic crowd were enraptured as Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat riding his brilliant gelding Alamo remained unbeaten and was crowned victor of the 2018 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. The result saw Henrik von Eckermann and McLain Ward secure second and third place.

A thrilled Guerdat commented on his victory, “I planned Alamo for the Final, he’s a nervous horse but I had a good feeling on him in the warm-up and in the first round, so I decided to go for it in the jump-off. Alamo responded beautifully to what I was asking him to do, I am very proud of him.”

Interviwew With the winner

Interviwew With the winner - Ward Third As Guerdat Steals the Show In Geneva

Did you find it hard waiting for the final result?
Steve Guerdat: Yes, it is sometimes very hard to wait, especially when you have such a good line-up of riders still to go behind you. Each time a new person started their round I was getting more nervous and was hoping we could keep the lead. I was very happy with my ride tonight, it feels amazing.
When did you decide to enter Alamo for this competition?
Steve Guerdat: I planned Alamo for this final a while ago, I took him to Paris last week mainly to prepare him for this competition. He is a bit of a nervous horse, so I wanted to give him more time in the ring to help calm his nerves. I had a really good feeling with him in the warm-up ring, he was really listening to me, so I decided I had to give it everything in the jump-off. Alamo responded to me so well in the ring and road beautifully, I am just so proud of him.
Can you talk us through what you were thinking during the jump-off?
Steve Guerdat: I knew that Alamo is very good jumper and is quick on the ground. He has a huge drive and jumps forward, so this jump-off course really suited me. My turn to the wall was not perfect, so after the double I thought, I have to give this a real go! I saw an even bigger stride to the second last fence and my horse really helped me here. I then decided to speed up further and left one stride out on the last, Alamo was just amazing, but I was relieved there were no more fences as I don’t think I would have been able to hold him anymore!
How does it feel to equal Rodrigo Pessoa’s record of the greatest number of wins at the CHI Geneva?
Steve Guerdat: Rodrigo was an idol of mine when I was younger, so to know, today, that we share the same number of victories in Geneva feels incredible and is very pleasing to hear!

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