The top 10 riders from around the globe competed in one of the most exciting classes of the year, the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final, at the iconic CHI Geneva. A class where only the world’s top 10 ranked riders are invited to compete to be named the best among them. The elite roster of riders that gathered to take on this imposing course included Rolex’s equestrian Testimonees, Steve Guerdat and Martin Fuchs.
World-renowned course designer, Gérard Lachat formulated an imposing and technically challenging course staged over two rounds, ensuring a thrilling competition for the enthralled crowd. First to enter the infamous Palexpo arena was Great Britain’s Ben Maher riding Explosion W, leaving the equestrian fans gasping as he hit the first fence in the Rolex combination and left the arena on 19 faults.
The first clear of the night came from Niels Bruynseels riding Gancia de Muze, exhibiting precision and determination as he glided around the course, finishing in 63.03 seconds, therefore setting the bar high for the forthcoming riders.
As the curtains to the arena entrance opened to unveil one of the home favourites and Rolex’s newest Testimonee Martin Fuchs, the crowd rose to their feet to witness his immaculate clear round riding in his first Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. World no.1, Harrie Smolders came next, producing an effortless round and going clear in the second quickest time, finishing just behind Bruynseels on the leaderboard. The arena was then treated to a second Swiss rider, as Rolex Testimonee and 2010 winner Steve Guerdat contended. Guerdat has been on top form this year and the mesmerized crowd produced a deafening applause as he cleared this demanding course in a time of 63.78 seconds.
Daniel Deusser, McLain Ward and Henrik von Eckermann also went clear, ending the first round in the competition with a total of seven clears and ensuring an exciting climax in the second round of the Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final.
The second round welcomed the first four riders, Peder Fredricson, Marcus Ehning, Daniel Deusser and Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat. Deusser put pressure on his competitors by producing a fast-paced faultless round in a time of 41.53 seconds, moving him to the top of the leaderboard. However next to come was Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat, electrifying the arena with his bold and precision riding, executing a perfect clear round and beating Deusser’s time by 1.78 seconds.
Fellow Swiss rider and Rolex Testimonee, Martin Fuchs produced a beautiful clear but despite his best efforts was unable to beat Guerdat’s time. Clear rounds were also executed by Henrik von Eckermann and McLain, but neither rider could top the leaderboard. Hoping to emulate his earlier round, Harrie Smolders made a valiant attempt but it was not to be as he exited the arena on four faults. Winner of The Dutch Masters in March this year, and last to go, was Niels Bruynseels, known as one of the fastest riders on the circuit, Bruynseels attempted to out-pace Guerdat but paid the price by bringing a fence down.
The patriotic crowd were enraptured as Rolex Testimonee Steve Guerdat riding his brilliant gelding Alamo remained unbeaten and was crowned victor of the 2018 Rolex IJRC Top 10 Final. The result saw Henrik von Eckermann and McLain Ward secure second and third place.
A thrilled Guerdat commented on his victory, “I planned Alamo for the Final, he’s a nervous horse but I had a good feeling on him in the warm-up and in the first round, so I decided to go for it in the jump-off. Alamo responded beautifully to what I was asking him to do, I am very proud of him.”
Guerdat continues the successes of fellow Rolex Testimonees, Scott Brash, Kent Farrington, Eric Lamaze and Kevin Staut with Testimonees securing the title for five consecutive years.
The passionate fans of the equestrian world will now be eagerly awaiting the Rolex Grand Prix, taking place on Sunday. This is the last Major in the Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping, and one of the most anticipated classes of the year.
FINAL RESULTS OF THE 2018 ROLEX IJRC TOP 10 FINAL
1. Steve Guerdat (SUI) riding Alamo
2. Henrik von Eckermann (SWE) riding Castello 194
3. McLain Ward (USA) riding Clinta
4. Daniel Deusser (GER) riding Tobago Z
5. Martin Fuchs (SUI) riding Clooney 51
6. Niels Bruynseels (BEL) riding Gancia de Muze
7. Peder Fredricson (SWE) riding H&M Christian K
8. Harrie Smolders (NED) riding DON VHP Z N.O.P
9. Marcus Ehning (GER) riding Funky Fred
10. Ben Maher (GBR) riding Explosion W