Reigning world #1 Steve Guerdat (SUI) jumped into history on Sunday, winning his third ever Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ Final at Gothenburg Horse Show in Sweden.
The Swiss Olympic individual gold medalist is now part of an elite roster of riders to have captured the title three times that includes Hugo Simon (AUS), Rodrigo Pessoa (BRA), Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum (GER) and Marcus Ehning (GER). He’s one of only two riders to do it on three different horses and is the only one, of those two, to accomplish the feat within a five year window. (Pessoa holds the record for most consecutive wins, having claimed the title in 1998, 1999 and 2000 with Baloubet du Rouet.)
At just 36 years of age, it’s entirely plausible, if not likely, that he’ll be the first to capture it a fourth time, as well. Because when it comes to Guerdat’s World Cup record, it’s nothing but top finishes.
The Swiss rider first won the individual title in Las Vegas in 2015 with Albufuehren’s Paille. It was a victory ten years in the making. Guerdat had contested nearly every Final since 2005 and with astoundingly consistent results.
“In the last nine or 10 years, I was on the podium three times, twice in the jump-off. Every year I was in the top 10,” Guerdat told the Los Angeles Times at the time. “Yes, on one side, you always want more, but you also have to be realistic about how good the other riders and the other horses are, so I actually feel really good about all these results. Today I just tried to take it like always. Of course I was nervous, but I’m lucky to have great people around me, to keep me calm and confident.”
In 2016, the he successfully defended his title in Gothenburg. This time it was Corbinian who took him to the top of the podium, much to Guerdat’s surprise.
“I was ready to give it a go and give it everything, but I didn’t think I’d stand here in front of you as a winner,” he said after.
“It was important to me to ride better than last year. [I won] but that was the only reason to be happy that day. I didn’t ride very good in the final last year and that stays somewhat in your head always, every time you see those images, video again. So that was my goal. Today, I really felt that [my horse] was fighting for me.”
And then there’s Sunday’s record-tying third victory.
Riding Alamo, a horse with no championship experience, Guerdat seized the lead in Thursday’s opening speed class, slipped to third overall after a rail in Friday’s jump off round, and bounced back with a double clear in Sunday’s third and final round.
But if the world #1 was the favorite to win today, he never got the memo.
“I didn’t expect to win. I tried hard and it worked out. One [World Cup title] was amazing. The second one was amazing. But three is… I don’t know what to say,” said the overjoyed Swiss rider.
“I actually really enjoyed this championship,” he continued. “Just being part of it is already a fantastic life experience. I tried to enjoy the moment and…tried to give my best ride in there because the horse is helping me the whole time, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Swiss teammate Martin Fuchs finished second aboard Clooney, a horse he says is “the best in the world.” (Fun fact: His uncle, Markus Fuchs, won the title in 2001 in Gothenburg, but only after coming second to Rodrigo Pessoa in Las Vegas in 2000. Martin is hoping Fuchs family history will repeat itself next year in Vegas…)
Hometown heroes Peder Fredricson and Catch Me Not of Sweden took third.