‘Jealousy is natural — it’s a good thing to have when you’re competing to be the best’

  • It takes something pretty special to train two riders who have, between them, reigned as world number one for well over a year.

    Meet Thomas Fuchs (pictured top), father of European champion Martin — the current world number two — and coach to Steve Guerdat, who returned to the top of the rankings last month. What is the secret to this phenomenal team’s success?

    “I don’t need to be there every day for Steve and Martin, but I’m there for the big shows and the championships and I try to calm them down a bit,” says Thomas, who was a leading international rider himself.

    “Overall we have found a great balance between being a trainer, a father and a friend.

    “The rivalry between them is great — it makes them both train and compete harder, because they both want to be world number one. Of course, they compete against each other, but they are still good friends. Steve and Martin both want to win, but if they come second and the other one wins then they are still happy because they are so close — they support each other fully. Inside the ring, they’re competitors, but in private they’re very good friends.

    “Sometimes, there is a bit of jealousy, but that is natural, it’s a good thing to have when you’re competing to be the best.”

    GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - APRIL 07: Swiss riders Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs inspect the course ahead of competing in the final round of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup Final during the Gothenburg Horse Show 2019 at Scandinavium Arena on April 07, 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Julia Reinhart/Getty Images)

    Steve and Martin coursewalking

    When Martin became world number one in January this year, Steve called Thomas straight away.

    “He asked me ‘What’s it like to be the trainer for the number one rider in the world?’ I replied saying ‘I’m used to this!’” says Thomas. “What he should have asked was ‘What’s it like being the father of the world number one?’”

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    It was actually Martin’s mother Renata who trained Martin in the early days.

    “I did go a few times, but he fell off multiple times and so I stopped going!” says Thomas.

    “Nowadays, I don’t really get nervous watching him compete. In the jump-offs, at the end of course, I get a little bit nervous, but his horse Clooney is really incredible, so overall, I’m not particularly nervous. I have confidence in my son and in Clooney, I don’t believe it’s necessary to be nervous anymore.

    “I’d say the proudest moment of my career is probably becoming the trainer for the two best riders in the world.”

    >>With thanks to Rolex Grand Slam for the interview.

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