the Great

11 January 2019

Swiss star Steve is back at No.1 in the world rankings and hungry for more success...

2019 has started like a dream for Steve Guerdat, who has just returned to the No.1 spot at the top of the Longines World Rankings and is also leading the Western European League in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup.


The Swiss 2012 Olympic gold medallist looks sure to strengthen his position on Sunday when he and bay gelding Venard De Cerisy compete in front of home support and the FEI TV cameras at the Basel leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ series.


In a candid interview, the 36-year-old tells us about his targets for 2019 and – perhaps to the horror of his rivals - tells us why he’s “100%” a better showjumper now than when he won the second of his Longines FEI Jumping World Cup titles in 2016.


Here’s five things you need to know about Steve Guerdat…

"I often come
out of the ring
and tell people
that I’m useless"

1. There'll be beers in Basel

Guerdat loves competing at the St. Jakobshalle arena, where he can be assured of home support from Swiss equestrian fans. Basel is equidistant between his Elgg base near Zurich and Bassecourt, where he grew up, which means dozens of friends and family will be able to cheer him from the stands.


“It’s great because we don’t need to travel too far and my friends and family who often don’t get to watch me can all come together,” he says. “Everyone has a good time and they’re sure to have a drink – whether it’s a beer to celebrate or commiserate!”


2. He’s bang in form

Guerdat took third place at the FEI World Equestrian Games with Albuehren’s Bianca in September and has been a regular podium contender ever since. He’s enjoyed four top 10 finishes in the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup series so far, including a second in Madrid and third in Lyon, and stands atop the Western European League with 58 points. He’s also No.1 in the world rankings, having returned to the top for the first time in more than six years earlier this month.



“I’m very happy with start of the season,” he says. “It’s always one of my goals to qualify for the World Cup final as it’s such a great competition.


“The No.1 ranking is not quite such a big thing – for me, doing well in the rankings is a mirror that reflects how I’ve been doing in the biggest competitions. It’s also a reward for the whole team. They follow me throughout the year and it shows we did things right.”


3. He likes his horses to get a well-earned rest

Steve’s great start to the World Cup season and early confirmation of a place in the Gothenburg final means he’s able to give his horses a well-earned rest over the winter. He’s always keen to get points on the board as soon as possible so that big names such as Albuehren’s Bianca can take a break.


“I like to give my horses a two-month break after Geneva in early December,” he says. “Allowing the time off means we can think about the full year.


“We can also look to the next generation by allowing some of the horses to gain experience. I went with Venard De Cerisy at London Olympia and will also use him in Basel. He’s nine years old and he needs experience.”


4 He often thinks he’s “useless”

No seriously. An Olympic champion and one of a select few athletes that have won the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup more than once also has champion levels of self-doubt. That could be a bigger problem for his rivals than himself though as his perfectionism and attention to detail make him stronger.


“I often come out of the ring and tell people that I’m useless,” he says. “I do honestly believe that sometimes. I make so many mistakes. There are so many things I can improve.


“I just try year after year to make fewer mistakes. There are so many good riders and horses so if you want to be successful you need to keep working.


“Am I better showjumper now than when I last won the World Cup? Yes, 100%. I’m much better now and I can still get so much better.”


Surely, this video below isn't an example of a "useless" showjumper, Steve?!

5. He likes to swap the saddle for the snow

Being a Swiss national it’s little surprise that Steve is a big skiing fan. Over the winter break he heads for the piste for four days. “They are some of the nicest days of the year for me,” he says.


For the rest of the year he also likes to be active and tries to do sport other than equestrian, such as running and fitness, four or five times per week. However, he admits that he doesn’t stray from the saddle for too long. “Most of my free time is around horses,” he says.


Watch the Basel leg of the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ on FEI TV on Sunday from 2pm local time


Images by Martin Dokoupil / Richard Juilliart