AFTER five rounds of fantastic show jumping at the FEI World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina, Germany’s Simone Blum was crowned the new World Champion and in doing so, she became the first lady champion since the inception of the WEG.
Riding the wonderful 11-year-old mare DSP Alice (Askari x Lanrebell), 29-year-old Blum didn’t touch a pole over five rounds of jumping and just picked up a single time fault in the final round to finish on a score of 3.47 and take the gold medal at her first attempt.
"I am so grateful to be here. I cannot describe my feelings. Today was the perfect day," Blum said afterwards.
It was a memorable day for Swiss show jumping when “brothers” Martin Fuchs and Steve Guerdat took the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Guerdat came in to the first round of the final in ninth place on a score of 8.00 with Bianca (Balou du Rouet x Cardento). He stayed on that score to move up to fourth place for the second round and he was the only rider to get inside the time allowed of 67 seconds in that 12-horse final round, heaping the pressure on the final three.
Fuchs went in to the final round in third place aboard Clooney (4.68) and was foot perfect again, just picking up two time faults to finish on 6.68 and guarantee himself a place on the podium.
Austria’s Max Kuhner and Chardonnay were in the silver medal position but looked to run out of steam towards the end of the track and finished with two fences down, plus a time fault. That brought his score to 12.97 and dropped him right down to sixth place, guaranteeing Fuchs at least the silver and Guerdat at least the bronze.
With all the pressure on her young shoulders, Blum could afford a single fence but no more. However, her mare never looked like touching a pole and they broke the beam with just a time fault to add (3.47).
Also making his WEG debut, Fuchs’ result was particularly emotional as Clooney underwent colic surgery earlier this year.
“It’s a great feeling to be here on the podium. I am riding one of the best horses in the world, he has proven it, but we were missing an individual championship medal” he said. “The year started good with a five-star Grand Prix win in Basil but then unfortunately he had colic surgery. He recovered well but it was a very emotional year, we were very worried about him. We are very happy that he came back and is better than ever before.”
The normally very poised Steve Guerdat couldn’t hold back his delight with his wonderful mare Bianca. “My biggest pride today is for that horse,” he said. “I really wanted to give her the medal she really deserves. She gives a feeling I cannot describe and I am so honoured and blessed to share my life with an animal like this.”
It was an extra special day that he got to share the podium with Martin Fuchs. “Having two Swiss riders is special, but having like another brother is even more special. Everyone know how special family Fuchs is to me, we train together, we are neighbours, we talk every day.
“They are like my second family and they treat me like I am their third son, so it really makes it as special as it gets.”
USA gold medallist McLain Ward finished fourth with Clinta (11.08), ahead of Columbia’s Carlos Enrique Lopez Lizarazo who climbed from 26th place this morning to sixth place overall.
FULL REPORTS FROM WEG IN SATURDAY'S THE IRISH FIELD