Last-minute bit change pays off for top rider in 1.60m Spruce Meadows jump-off

  • Switzerland’s Martin Fuchs delivered a masterclass jump-off to win the Spruce Meadows CSI5* 1.60m Tourmaline Oil Cup on Commissar Pezi on Friday evening (8 September) – with a last-minute bit change giving him the edge.

    “We try to give him the best home possible, and I think he pays it back,” said Martin about the super talented 10-year-old gelding, whom he won the CHIO Aachen Nations Cup leg with in June.

    In the first round over Leopoldo Palacios’ up-to-height track in Spruce Meadows’ international arena, combinations had to exercise some serious precision across the 14 jumping efforts. The short time allowance of 75 seconds added to the pressure, resulting in poles falling for many in the final tasking line featuring a big square oxer, an upright, and another oxer.

    Out of 34 starters, only four jumped clear, with the first coming early from Mexico’s Eugenio Garza Perez and Contago (who opted not to return for the jump-off). Martin laid down the next fault-free round, followed by Evelina Tovek and Winnetour De La Hamente Z for Sweden, and home-side rider Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina 2.

    In the jump-off, pathfinders Martin and Commissar Pezi were out to do business, whipping round from the first fence back to a vertical and galloping down to a double combination. The nippy gelding opened up round to the next, and following a rollback to the last oxer, they stopped the clock 38.51sec. Evelina Tovek and Winnetour De La Hamente Z made a valiant effort to catch the Swiss pair, and although their round looked quick, they steadied slightly to the last, to finish on 40.30sec and take second. Mario Deslauriers and Bardolina were third.

    Martin said he went almost a bit “too fast” in the first round which led to him making a tack adjustment before the jump-off.

    “I was not so happy with the riding in my first round, so I made some adjustments and I also changed the bit for the jump-off, and it gave me a much better feeling,” he explained.

    “Before I used a hackamore with a snaffle, and in the jump-off I rode him in a double bridle. He was quite strong in the first round and running a little bit with me, and I didn’t have so much control.”

    Martin said it was tough deciding on his plan for the jump-off .

    “It’s always very nice when there’s not so many riders in the jump-off, but you still don’t really know what you have to do to put enough pressure on the others, without taking as much risk as if there were 12 in it,” he said.

    “So I was a little bit nervous to be doing the right thing, but Commissar Pezi jumped so well in both rounds that he really gave me a lot of confidence that I could take risks and go fast, and it turned out perfect.”

    Martin, who also won the Spruce Meadows ATCO Cup with Bastille on Thursday (7 September), described Commissar Pezi as a “funny character”, who is “a bit cautious of everything”.

    “At first when we got him he was very shy, and didn’t have much personality but now he’s really started to grow. In the past seven-eight months he really became quite a character and a really fun horse to be around,” he said.

    “I think he feels at home with us now. He’s finished jumping for the weekend, and in three weeks he’ll do the Nations Cup final in Barcelona.”

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