Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

It’s a fitting idiom for German rider Christian Kukuk’s performance with Checker 47 on Sunday, May 19 during the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Madrid.

Fourth to go in the eight-horse jump-off in front of a sold-out crowd at Club Campo de Villa de Madrid, Kukuk put his foot on the gas and didn’t let off.

He and the 14-year-old grey Westphalian gelding stopped the clock at 45.85 seconds, nearly a second ahead of the Netherlands’ Maikel van der Vleuten & Beauville Z N.O.P. Belgian phenom and LGCT Shanghai winner Giles Thomas, 25, rounded out the podium on Ermitage Kalone during the 10-year-old Selle Français stallion’s CSI5* debut.  

“Honestly, I am a really big fan of this show. To win in front of this incredible crowd here, the atmosphere is outstanding,” Kukuk, 34, said. “I came here with a good feeling.

“I knew the jump-off was going to be fast, so I tried everything. I took all the risk to the last, I said to myself, ‘Just go full-speed,’ and I kept galloping home.”

Gallop home, he did, after solving the riddle of course designer Santiago Varela Ullastres’ flowing, scopey, and expansive track, which made the most of Club Campo de Villa de Madrid’s undulating grass field. Checker 47’s impressive foot speed and long stride proved unbeatable in the nine-effort jump-off, which culminated with a thrilling, roll-back turn to a delicate final vertical.  

Their take-no-prisoners approach is a recipe for success that’s worked before for Kukuk and Checker 47, who also took home the $500,000 CSI 5* Rolex Grand Prix during the ‘Saturday Night Lights’ finale of the winter circuit in Wellington, Florida in March.

It’s also not the first Global Champions Tour win for the pair, who were victorious in the LGCT Grand Prix of Riyadh in October, just weeks after helping Germany to team gold in the 2023 FEI Nations Cup Final CSIO5* in Barcelona.

Though he’s been used relatively lightly so far this season—jumping just nine rounds at 1.60m in 2024—Checker 47 has still managed to post some impressive Jumpr numbers. At 1.60m, he dropped an average of just 1.4 faults in 22 rounds in the last 365 days, jumping clear at a stellar 59%. What’s more: at the same height, the grey gelding finishes in the top-10 70% of the time.

In other words, while the German combination may be slightly less well known than, say, Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) & King Edward, or Martin Fuchs (SUI) and Leone Jei, Kukuk & Checker 47 are well placed in their company. They sit at #6 among the top 10 horse-and-rider combinations by prize money so far this year, and are hanging onto the #1 spot in prize money won over the past 365 days.

In fact, by the same metric, Kukuk & Checker 47 have earned a cool $124,000+ more than King Edward, the best horse in the last quarter-century, and have accrued a total of $2,434,404 in career earnings over their four years together.

With another $110,000+ coming their way for this weekend’s win in Spain, the pair’s 2024 season is already off to a rollicking—and lucrative—start.