‘You made my dreams come true; my superhero’: Martin Fuchs pays tribute to Clooney 51 in emotional retirement ceremony

  • There wasn’t a dry eye in the house on Sunday afternoon (11 December) as Swiss showjumper Martin Fuchs’ brilliant gelding Clooney 51 was retired in an emotional farewell ceremony at the CHI Geneva horse show.

    The former European champion, who suffered a career-ending injury 16 months ago, was ridden into the arena for the last time, where they enjoyed one final lap together to say goodbye to Clooney’s many fans.

    In a moving tribute, Martin said: “jumping at our first event, I fell in love and knew that this would be the beginning of a wonderful journey. You were a handful at first and it took a lot of hard work to understand each other. You taught me that a horse needs all the trust and confidence in his rider to be successful.”

    Tributes for one of the sport’s most decorated horses also came from Steve Guerdat and Clooney 51’s devoted groom Sean Vard, saying he was a “legend of the sport” and “part of the family”.

    “You are a unique spirit, who has become the most successful horse in Swiss showjumping history,” said Martin. “You helped me become world number one, you shaped me into the rider that I am, you have made my dreams come true. I would not have this career without you. I am forever grateful for those moments. Clooney, this applause is all yours.”

    The 16-year-old gelding fractured a bone in his right humerus when he slipped and fell in the field in August last year, just nine days after he and Martin had been competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

    “We didn’t know if he would survive,” said Martin.

    Clooney spent almost two months being treated in a veterinary hospital, recuperating in a sling, which the team attributes to his “will to survive”.

    “Again, you showed what a superhero you are,” said Martin.

    He finally returned home, where he has since been enjoying the quiet life.

    The popular grey received a guard of honour on arrival at the show and enjoyed meeting the press and his many fans ahead of Sunday’s farewell ceremony, which took place ahead of Sunday afternoon’s Rolex grand prix, a class which Clooney 51, a son of the great Cornet Obolensky and owned by Luigi Baleri, won with Martin Fuchs won in 2019, making it an “obvious choice” for the tear-jerking event.

    In their glittering career together, they won individual gold at the 2019 European Championships, individual silver at the 2018 World Equestrian Games in USA and finished ninth individually at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

    Clooney 51, whom Martin describes as his “horse of his life” also won a raft of five-star grands prix in a phenomenal career.

    He had a huge impact on the sport and will be much missed, but never forgotten. Thank you Clooney 51.

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