Most 31 years old aren’t too concerned about getting scolded by their father.
But that’s what was running through the Martin Fuchs’ mind on course of show jumping’s richest Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Swiss Olympian was jumped loose over the Canadian planks in the first round of the CSI5* CPCK International Grand Prix at Spruce Meadows and lost his rein and stirrup. His thoughts went immediately to his famous father, Swiss show jumper Thomas Fuchs.
“That was a very scary moment!” said Martin.
“Leone jumped fantastic from a fence to a one through seven up to the Canadian planks and there he jumped even higher and jumped me out of the saddle. I lost a stirrup. I lost my left rein for a few strides.
“Thank god it was a right bending line to the next fence, and I could kind of take the reins again and get it back together. But still, I didn’t have the stirrup and that is something that I actually have trained a lot with my father. He always said, you have to be able to get back into stirrup and without looking down. And then I didn’t find the stirrup and I was looking down through the turn. I was like, Fuck, I hope he’s sleeping already and he doesn’t see this right now,” laughed Martin.
Thomas Fuchs was watching, of course. And his heart was likely in his throat as the next :30 seconds of jumping unfolded.
Martin never managed to recover the stirrup but did jump the next seven fences clear, despite rubs at the Tokyo 2020 cherry blossoms vertical that ended the hopes of several combinations on the day and at C of triple combination.
“Obviously he sent me a message after the first round,” continued Martin. “We had a little discussion about the changing the bit, and my dad said, ‘No, keep it and just ride more proper in the next two rounds and then you’ll get the win.’”
And they did.
Only two riders managed to jumped double clear over Leopoldo Palacio’s gruelling 1.60m track: Martin and Canada’s Tiffany Foster. Foster dropped a rail in the jump off. Martin delivered a third clear in a week that has seen only clear rounds from the rider.
“I had a big rub on the first fence, the triple bar, in the jump off. And after that I was quite sure that nothing [else is] going to happen because once he touches a fence, he really remembers it throughout the rest of the course,” said Martin. “He gave everything today.”
Leone Jei is only 11, but already has a phenomenal record with Martin. Since 2019, the pair has won €2,375,198 in prize money, putting them at no. 8 in Jumpr App’s top 10 money earners of all time, just ahead of Martin’s other great grey, Clooney 51, who won €2,320,882 over his career. Over 56 rounds at 1.60m, they average just 2.32 faults.
With stats like that, it’s hardly surprising that Fuchs felt the horse was fated to win the CPCK International.
“I was here [at Spruce Meadows] last year with him. I actually rode bad in the first round and I had the big mistake. Otherwise he jumped clear all week. After that day, I said, I’m going to bring him every year back to Spruce because this is the Grand Prix I want to win and this is the horse that I know can win it.”
He knew it was a mission accomplished—for Martin and his father—before he even crossed the finish line. Martin’ had a’s celebratory fist in the air over the final fence will go down in history as an instantly iconic moment.
“It’s really one of my biggest dreams to win here at Spruce Meadows. My father was here plenty of times and was quite a few times well placed in the Grand Prix, but he never managed to win. He always said, ‘This is the best show in the world and this is where you have to win.’ And he pushed me to win one day here, and that it’s already today is just wonderful.
“I’m just so happy to have a horse like Leone.”
Fuchs is now the Rolex Grand Slam live contender. Only one rider in history has won all three majors in the same year to claim the title—Scott Brash in 2015 on Hello Sanctos. Fuchs has the horse to do it. But that’s the last thing on his mind today.
“I’m going to enjoy this victory. I’m not thinking yet about anything else,” said Martin. “Tomorrow, I go on vacation. I’m going to turn my phone off for a week. And so I’m going to enjoy this week. I’m going to enjoy my time off. I’m going to enjoy this, my biggest victory in my career.
“And then we look forward to Geneva.”