The top ten(ish) came. They saw. But only one would conquer.
The annual Rolex International Jumper Riders Club (IJRC) Top 10 Final saw (most of) the world’s best go head to head at the Palexpo in Geneva, Switzerland for the 58th edition of the CHI Geneva horse show.
Ten of the top 12 riders on the planet as of the December world rankings contested the two round Final. (Canada’s Eric Lamaze and USA’s Beezie Madden were notable absences from this year’s competition.)
But it was hometown hero and noted media-phobe Steve Guerdat (SUI) who would reign supreme—for the second time in his exceptional career. Guerdat also won the Final in 2010.
Riding the 10-year-old black gelding Alamo, the Swiss rider was one of seven pairs to post clears in the first round. He returned in the second round to shave nearly two seconds off the time to beat set by Germany’s Daniel Deusser (41.53 seconds), stopping the clock at 39.75 seconds.
Despite the phenomenal line up to follow—Henrik von Eckermann (SWE), McLain Ward (USA), Martin Fuchs (SUI), Niels Bruynseels (BEL) and Harrie Smolders (NED) among them—none came within half a second of his blistering time.
“Alamo is a horse that has a fantastic gallop, and that’s a decisive factor in such a competition,” said the overjoyed Geurdat. “I am very happy with my performance, I could not have done much better in this Final today, I am both touched and very happy with this great victory here in front of my home crowd.”
The podium was rounded out by von Eckermann and Ward who finished second and third, respectively. Neither of which looked particularly delighted about their placings.
Just kidding. They did smile. Eventually….
Kevin Staut (FRA), winner of the 2017 final and current president of the IJRC, did not qualify for the top 10 in the world rankings this year and could not defend his title.