‘I am grateful to call myself your rider’: five-star horse retires to stud aged 15

  • Austrian showjumper Max Kühner said he cannot put into words how much Chardonnay 79 has given him, as the top-track stallion bows out from competition aged 15.

    Chardonnay, by Clarimo and out of a Corrado I mare, joined Max’s stable in 2014 after starting his career with German rider Helmut Schönstetter. He jumped his first grand prix with Max the following year aged eight, and went on to have a successful career with placings at five-star around the world.

    In 2016 Max and Chardonnay finished 14th at the World Cup final, and in 2019 they were ninth. They were sixth individually at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, and were part of the Austrian team at the 2017 and 2019 European Championships.

    Yesterday (23 August) Max announced Chardonnay’s retirement from sport and thanked him for the “wonderful years” as his “sport partner, best friend and soul mate”.

    “When someone asks me which show, course or success with you was my best, I can’t give them a clear answer. I enjoyed every moment with you as soon as I was allowed to take [my] place on your back,” said Max.

    “Whether it was on one of our rounds on the racetrack at home or in one of the most difficult courses in the world – your incredible strength, instinct, joy and the feeling that ‘anything goes’ with you, have given us wonderful emotional moments and great successes.”

    Max said the “fear gene” is not present in Chardonnay, whose impressive record includes winning the Spruce Meadows CSIO5* six-bar in September 2019.

    “It always seemed as if you were above it all,” he said. “This look from you – which radiates so much strength and willpower – is still a daily motivation, incentive and role model for me. You have definitely made me a better horseman. Without you, I would not have come this far in my entire career.

    “But words cannot truly describe how much you gave to me, my family, our former groom Alex and the whole team at home.”

    Max said he was “grateful” to call himself Chardonnay’s rider and said the stallion will now start a “new chapter” as he concentrates on breeding duties.

    “I look forward to taking the first rounds with your promising progeny and making you proud in the process,” he said, adding that he has entered into a partnership with a “renowned breeding station” – but the identity of this will be kept “a secret” at the moment.

    “So far we can say, he will be available as fresh and frozen semen,” said Max.

    He added that Chardonnay’s first offspring, who are two years old, are “very promising” and already showing their father’s genes in terms of their strength, looks, character and “unlimited bravery”.

    “Perfect genes that allow us to hope for great things,” he said.

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