This is Martin’s first World Cup title, having finished in an agonisingly close second at the last final, in 2019. He and the superb 15-year-old Verdi TN stallion Chaplin have been on winning form all week, topping the opening leg of the Jumping World Cup Final on Friday. Martin then swapped horses to the somewhat less reliable The Sinner for Friday’s second round, where a pole down dropped him slightly down the order. He came into the final leg, reinstated aboard Chaplin, lying joint third on the leaderboard with Britain’s Harry Charles.
A flawless first clear from the pair set up an exciting second round, and when Harry tipped the middle part of the enormous treble, Martin knew that a clear inside the time would mean a guaranteed podium position. His trusty little stallion duly delivered, and when The Netherlands’ Harrie Smolders, lying one point ahead, also rolled a pole, only the USA’s McLain Ward lay between Martin and victory.
It just wasn’t McLain’s day. He revealed that his Tokyo Olympics horse contagious had slightly lost his footing in the combination, and the pair ended up with two down. The title was Martin’s.
“This horse is just fantastic. He is really the horse of my heart. Every time he enters the ring he is the biggest fighter and when you’re riding it, there’s nothing else like it,” said Martin.
“The plan was perfect,” he added, of the strategy to ride two horses in the competition. “Honestly, after having a rail down on Friday I wasn’t so sure it was right. Afterwards, I walked back to the warm-up and was pretty upset, but Steve [Guerdat] came up to me and said, ‘Congrats’. He told me I could still win on Sunday, and I was still third, which was good. I knew that two clear rounds today and we’d stay on the podium.
“To end up winning this prestigious competition is a dream come true. Earlier I looked at all the names on the World Cup and they are the best of the best. To be able to add my name is fantastic,” he added.
Harrie Smolders hung on to his second-place with Monaco, here competing at his first championships – “it won’t be his last,” said Harrie – while Sweden’s Jens Fredricson moved up from fifth after today’s first round to fill the third spot on the podium at his first World Cup Final appearance since 2013.
It proved a brilliant week for the Brits but with a heartbreaking conclusion, as Harry Charles and Jack Whitaker finished in fourth and fifth respectively – arguably the hardest places to be. A spot on the podium, even perhaps atop it, was within touching distance for Harry in particular, but an unfortunate fence down aboard Romeo 88 left him in fourth. Jack finished fifth after a stunning clear on Equine America Valmy De La Lande – the horse’s fourth clear of the week — added nothing to his score.
“Fourth is where no one wants to be,” said Harry, who was one of three riders, including Martin Fuchs, to use two horses across the three rounds of competition. “I came here with high expectations and I knew I had a shot if everything went to plan, but we were just short of a bit of luck on the day. But I’m so proud of my horses – I just wish I could have given them the result they deserved.”
John Whitaker finished in 12th with Equine America Unick Du Francport, finishing on a high with a clear in the last round.
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