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Portrait: German talent Christian Kukuk

Portrait: German talent Christian Kukuk
Portrait: German talent Christian Kukuk

Christian Kukuk has had horses close to heart all his life. He grew up in Warendorf, which is one of the most important cities for German equestrian sports. Warendorf is the headquarters of the German Olympic Committee for Equestrian Sports, DOKR, where his mother worked. The city is also home to the North Rhine-Westphalia state stud, where Kukuk's grandfather was stablemaster. Despite his family's tradition of being involved in equestrian sports, young Christian Kukuk's athletic ambition was to become a professional soccer player.

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It was not until he was 13 years old and began following and helping his father at equestrian competitions that he started to develop an interest in equestrian sports. Kukuk began riding under his mother's guidance and soon thereafter started jumping. After completing his schooling and an apprenticeship as an industrial clerk, Kukuk decided to pursue riding as his profession.

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Early career and Ludger Beerbaum

In 2012, Kukuk began his professional riding career when he contacted the legendary show jumper Ludger Beerbaum through DOKR. The same year, Kukuk was hired in Beerbaum's riding stable in Riesenbeck. Kukuk competed in his first international Grand Prix in May 2012 and a year later he participated in the World Championships for Young Jumping Horses in Lanaken-Zangersheide. Despite a last-place finish in his first participation in the German Championships in 2013, Kukuk showed great diligence and development in the following two years, finishing ninth and fourth, respectively.

Kukuk suffered setbacks in 2016 when he sustained a triple fracture of his shoulder after a fall at CHIO Aachen. After three months of rehabilitation, he returned to riding in great style and won the Grand Prix in Frankfurt with the stallion Limoncello. Kukuk's development continued, and he delivered the best result for the German team, which took third place at the Nations Cup in St. Gallen in 2017.

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Success with Mumbai

In 2019, Kukuk began perhaps his most successful partnership with a horse to date. When Ludger Beerbaum Stables secured the young stallion Mumbai, it was known that they were dealing with a talented horse. Kukuk immediately took over the training of Mumbai, and they began competing together shortly thereafter. After impressive results at both the Nations Cup and World Cup, the pair was selected for the Olympics in Tokyo. They only competed in individual competition, narrowly missing the final and finishing tied for 31st place in the qualifying round.

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Kukuk and Mumbai quickly recovered from the disappointment of the Olympics, and a month later, they participated in the European Championships in Riesenbeck. They were part of the German team that won the silver medal, and in the individual competition, they narrowly missed a medal with a fourth-place finish. At the end of 2021, Kukuk achieved his highest ranking on the world rankings, at 18th place, and for the last two years, he has consistently been in the top 60 on the list. Kukuk is considered to be one of the future stars of show jumping.

Christian Kukuk's journey is a story of dedication and hard work, and a story that is still being told. Despite his initial aspirations to become a professional football player, it seems to be destiny, that he became a rider instead. With the guidance of his parents and Ludger Beerbaum, Kukuk overcame challenges and achieved great success and his journey serves as an inspiration for young riders and athletes, demonstrating that with perseverance and a bit of luck, anything is possible.

Read More: Portrait: Triple European Champion Christian Ahlmann

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