Switzerland wins the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup after 21 years
The Swiss show jumping team rode to victory in the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup 2023 – for the first time again after 21 years
The last time that the Swiss squad won the Mercedes-Benz Nations’ Cup in Aachen was in the year 2002 and the final rider of the team back then was Markus Fuchs with Tinka’s Boy. Now, 21 years later it was his nephew Martin Fuchs with Commissar Pezi, who sealed the victory for the Swiss team on a final score of four faults, ahead of the British team and the Belgians, both of whom finished on eight faults after both rounds. However, since the collective time from round two decides in the case of a tie, the representatives of this year’s CHIO partner country came second, because they were slightly faster than the Belgians.
The Swiss chef d’équipe, Michel Sorg, said on behalf of his team: “It is a dream come true winning the Nations’ Cup here in Aachen. It is the dream of all fans of this sport.” I have had so many chances to come here, but standing here today in the middle of the arena with the winning team was fantastic and I still haven’t really taken it in yet.” Of course, he had thought about the starting order carefully, he chose Steve Guerdat with Venard de Cerisy as the first to go because he is an “experienced, strong rider”, who fulfilled all the expectations set in him by jumping double clear.
The next to go was the also extremely experienced Niklaus Schurtenberger with his Holstein-bred mare, C-Steffra. They got off to a promising start by only knocking one pole in the first round. However, round two didn’t go well for the pair at all: 23 faults.
The next pair: Edouard Schmitz with Gamin van’t Naastveldhof, who came second in the Turkish Airlines-Prize of Europe yesterday. They picked up eight faults in round one – the scratch result. Then, they jumped clear. “After the first round I got kicked in the butt, which was exactly what I needed,” stated Edouard. He didn’t get any further, because Martin Fuchs exclaimed: “My dad kicked you in the butt!” Because he has been training the 23-year-old Edouard for six years already. Edouard laughed and nodded.
Martin Fuchs as the final rider – that was also well thought-out by Michel Sorg. Because it was all down to Martin Fuchs. If he stayed clear – victory. Four faults – Jump-off. Eight faults – still a jump-off, but without Switzerland. The pressure was no problem for Fuchs: “I had a really good feeling. He jumped super in the first round. Steve helped me warm up before the second round and he said just do everything the same as before, so I entered the ring with lots of confidence. But I was a little bit nervous on the last line…” But the ten-year-old Holstein-bred gelding, Commissar Pezi, didn’t let himself be distracted and also flew over the last Mercedes obstacle.
Tim Gredley, who rode for his country among others in 2006 at the FEI World Equestrian Games, aged just 20 at the time, spoke on behalf of the British team. He said he was delighted to have the honour of jumping with these guys, because it had been a long time since he jumped at that level. But that he now had a horse, namely the Belgian-bred stallion Medoc de Toxandria, who was suitable for top level sport. And that he wasn’t disappointed even if his scores of nine and six faults hadn’t counted today. “The team spirit was great and I was really happy to be part of the team!” His fellow team members comprised of Ben Maher with Dallas Vegas Batilly and Scott Brash with Hello Jefferson, both of whom jumped double clear, and Harry Charles with Romeo, who collected eight faults in the first round and then jumped clear.
Like the Brits, the Belgians picked up all their faults in the first round, whereby Nicola Philippaerts and his super mare Katanga van het Dingeshof jumped double clear. “We were a little unlucky in the first round,” analysed Koen Vereecke, who had saddled Kasanova de la Pomme this evening (four and zero faults). “The tension is slightly higher in the second round. They all jumped very good in the second round. Even if it didn’t suffice to win. Perhaps next time.” Because as Martin Fuchs summed up in a nutshell: “It is the coolest Nations’ Cup one can win, here in front of such a huge crowd!”
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