Now for something completely different… a class featuring a quadruple combination

  • The talking point of Saturday’s schedule at the CHI Geneva (7-11 December) was the five-star Coupe de Geneve “competition over combinations” in which a quality field of 35 riders tackled a unique track consisting only of combination fences.

    The six-fence course opened with a triple bar, but athletes then immediately faced an oxer-vertical double quickly followed by a vertical-oxer double at fence three. They then looped round to face a huge test, the Rolex quadruple combination, which comprised of a vertical to vertical on two strides, then one stride to an oxer and two strides to part 4b, another oxer; it was an incredible test of power jumping.

    But there was no let up, as the home straight consisted of another pair of doubles on a dog leg.

    Amazingly, 12 riders jumped clear to progress to the scaled back – although no less testing – jump-off against the clock.

    The winner was home rider Steve Guerdat riding Venard De Cerisy, who powered round at incredible speed to claim the £32,000 top prize and led a Swiss one-two-three on the podium.

    “Venard has always jumped combinations really well and he was really on form today,” said Steve. “I thoroughly enjoyed the jump-off, which was perfectly put together. It’s definitely an event that suits me and I always enjoy taking part in it because it’s also a bit of a change from what we usually do.”

    Joe Stockdale: ‘It’s just a mass of poles’

    But in fifth place with a tremendous double clear on his debut appearance at this five-star CHI Geneva show was a thrilled Joe Stockdale riding the 11-year-old Bingo Du Chateau.

    “I’ve never done anything like that before,” said Joe. “And there were some big fences in there, it was tough. I wasn’t quite sure how Bingo was going to react going into such a big combination – when they come into a quadruple combination it’s just a mass of poles in front of them.

    The quadruple combination at the CHI Geneva combination jumping class

    “But he just went in there and even from number one he was on it. He jumped it well.”

    Joe admitted that he hadn’t been able to practise for this unique class.

    “I’d planned to practise, but then I changed my plans and I’ve actually only jumped a couple of small rounds at home on him before coming here. So it was nice he came in and took on the challenge,” said the 23-year-old, who was crowned Tommy Hilfiger Equestrian Young Rider of the Year at the recent Horse & Hound Awards.

    “The calibre of horses and riders here is unreal, it’s the best in the world, certainly the best I’ve ever been to,” added Joe. “So I’m chuffed to bits. Bingo Du Chateau has had a big year, he’s done a lot of learning. He hadn’t done a lot before the start of this year, but he’s stepped up and that’s a nice note to finish on, with a good course and a nice result under his belt.”

    Joe will be contesting his first ever Rolex Grand Slam leg on Sunday, the Rolex grand prix of Geneva, with his championship mare Equine America Cacharel.

    “She feels great here and seems to like the arena,” said Joe. “She’s not gone in tense or a bit spooky like they can do in this ring. I know it’s going to be tough, but fingers crossed… The crowd here is just fantastic, lots of noise and a great atmosphere, it’s such a great show.”

    You can read the full report from CHI Geneva in next week’s Horse & Hound magazine, in the shops on Thursday 15 December.

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