MARTIN Fuchs won his second consecutive Rolex Grand Prix in front of an enthusiastic home crowd in Geneva on Sunday evening.

The Swiss superstar won the last renewal in 2019 (cancelled in 2020) with his great partner Clooney 51. The grey gelding has since been retired following an injury in the field after the Tokyo Olympics, but he has found a fine replacement in Leone Jei, the nine-year-old gelding who helped him to team gold and individual silver at the Europeans Championships earlier this year.

It was a star-studded field for the final Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping Major of 2021. Daniel Deusser came in as the live contender having won the Rolex Grand Prix in Aachen in the summer.

Gérard Lachat and Louis Konickx built a big technical track for the 40 starters. The first clear came from Offaly’s Darragh Kenny with his Tokyo mount, VDL Cartello, the 14-year-old stallion by Cartani 4, owned by Heathman Farm.

Kenny’s clear was immediately emulated by Fuchs. USA’s Kent Farrington was once again on top form with Gazelle, booking his place in the jump-off. Austria’s Max Kühner and Elektric Blue P made no mistake to also join the clears, eventually joined by USA’s Laura Kraut and Dutchman Harrie Smolders.

Kenny was first to go and recorded a classy double clear in a time of 43.47 second, but you got the feeling the door was left open. Fuchs immediately moved him down the leaderboard when next to go, breaking the beam in 41.54 seconds.

Kent Farrington looked as though he would then take over the lead and his time was the fastest of the class (41.35), but the Rolex oxer fell and he had to settle for fifth place. Kühner was next and he gave it a good try in 42.22 seconds, eventually good enough for third place.

When Kraut finished with eight faults, it was down to Smolders to ruin the Swiss party aboard Monaco. He crossed the line 0.23 seconds slower than Fuchs in 41.77 seconds to earn second place. Fuchs picked up a whopping €316,800 for winning, while Darragh Kenny earned €96,000 for fourth place.

Fuchs said it was a “fantastic day” to win the Rolex Grand Prix of Geneva for a second time. “He jumped great in both rounds. I knew that the jump-off suited me very well. I was excited about the jump-off because I knew I could leave strides out; he has such a massive stride, so it is hard to do the same round as him.”

“Leone Jei is very unique in the qualities that he has. The way that he jumps – he does it so lightly and effortlessly, which is impressive to see in a nine-year-old. He is very good in his head, he is so motivated, he wants to do his best.”

Irish-bred winner

Bertram Allen won the five-star 1.50m Prix des Communes Genovoises with Classified. From a big start list of 52, Allen was the fastest of 18 clear rounds with the eight-year-old gelding by Je t’Aime Flamenco who was bred by Galway vet Philip McManus and well-known Cork racehorse trainer John Murphy of Highfort Stud, who owns the horse.

The combination stopped the clock in 53.99 seconds to beat French veteran Roger Yves Bost into second place with Ballerine du Vilpion (0/ 54.33), while USA’s Jessica Springsteen finished third with Volage de Val Henry (0/ 54.47). Allen said: “Classified is a naturally fast horse, he has a really good brain and always looks for the fence. To go in and win at one of the best shows of the year is nice.”

John Murphy added: “We are delighted with the horse. Geneva is one of the biggest shows in the world so it is great to win there. We have always kept a few sport horses alongside the thoroughbreds so it is nice to keep a good profile with this horse.”