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Portrait: Martin Fuchs, Former World Number One

Martin Fuchs and his former star horse Clooney 51 Photo: PaterMcFly, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When one thinks of Switzerland, the Alps, chocolate, and luxury watches likely come to mind first. However, beyond these iconic symbols, Switzerland has also made significant strides in show jumping, producing two of the most successful riders of this millennium. The reigning European champion, Steve Guerdat, has been a constant fixture near the top of the FEI World Ranking since he first entered the top three twelve years ago. Additionally, Martin Fuchs hails from a family that already included two show jumpers. Martin’s father, Thomas Fuchs, was a long-time member of the Swiss national team, competing in the Olympics twice and winning two European Championship gold medals. His uncle, Markus Fuchs, also represented Switzerland for many years, participating in five Olympics and earning a silver medal.

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A Born Competitor

chi genève 2013  martin fuchs et principal 12
Photo: Clément Bucco-Lechat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With such a deeply entrenched family background in equestrian sports, namely show jumping, it was almost inevitable that Martin Fuchs would follow in his renowned relatives' footsteps. From the age of seven, Fuchs dreamed of becoming a professional show jumper, and over the years, he increasingly succeeded as a junior and young rider. His early career was marked by three medal placements at various European Championships, culminating in a team gold medal at the Youth Olympics in 2010 when he was just 18. Unlike some athletes who struggle when moving up an age category, Fuchs excelled. From 2011 to 2013, as a young rider, he had one of the most successful phases of his career, participating in the European Championships for young riders three times and winning six out of six possible medals—four silvers and two golds. He also clinched gold at the Swiss championships for young riders each of those years. As he transitioned to the senior level, Fuchs was already recognized as one of the world's most talented young equestrians in the sport of show jumping.


Clooney 51

As is well known, a rider is only as good as his horse. In 2014, at just 21 years old, Fuchs began competing with the gelding Clooney 51. Initially, the pair did not achieve great success, but as Clooney, then only seven years old, gained experience, their results improved. Just over a year and a half into their partnership, they were part of the Swiss team that won bronze at the European Championships in 2015. Individually, they placed 38th, which remains Fuchs' lowest placement at the European Championships to date.

After the 2015 European Championships, Fuchs and Clooney gradually emerged as one of the world’s best pairings. At the 2017 European Championships, they added another team bronze medal and improved their individual ranking to 13th place. The following year at the World Championships, Fuchs and Clooney demonstrated their elite status, securing a silver medal in the individual competition. In 2019, during their third and final European Championships together, they achieved their greatest success yet, with Switzerland finishing somewhat disappointingly in sixth place, but Fuchs and Clooney winning the gold medal. In early 2020, Fuchs ascended to the top of the FEI Ranking, overtaking fellow countryman Steve Guerdat, although Guerdat reclaimed the top spot a month later.

Tragically, Clooney's career ended suddenly in 2021 after he sustained a severe shoulder injury just a week after their second Olympic participation. Fears for the then 16-year-old star horse were grave, but he fortunately survived and healed and he officially retired from the sport a year and a half later.

Continued Success and Future Prospects

Fuchs' success has persisted even after the conclusion of the partnership that made him a star. The 2021 European Championships brought him both silver and gold medals, in the individual and team competitions respectively. In the last two years, Fuchs has clinched gold at both the FEI World Cup and FEI Nations Cup. The only major international competition where Fuchs has yet to win medals is the Olympics. The next opportunity for this is well-known to be this August in Paris. Currently ranked sixth in the world, behind Steve Guerdat among others, Fuchs is not among the favorites for the individual competition at the moment. Only time will tell whether a team medal for Switzerland and Fuchs is happening instead.

In equestrian sports, riders can continue competing at the highest level significantly longer than, for example, football players. At just 31 years old, Martin Fuchs is still young relative to many of his competitors, giving no reason to doubt that he can still reach new heights and even better results than he has achieved so far.

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Martin Fuchs' web page: Martin Fuchs

FEI database: Welcome to FEI Database


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