Christian Kukuk and Checker 47 top the CSI3* 1.50m Grand Prix
Presented by Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort at the Spring MET 2021
Christian Kukuk and Checker 47 secured a German victory in the CSI3* 1.50m Grand Prix presented by Oliva Nova Beach & Golf Resort at the Spring MET 2021. This was the second week of competition at the spring edition of the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour in Oliva Nova, Spain, which is run under strict Covid-19 protocols and with no audience present.
The start field in Sunday’s Grand Prix was strong – not only in numbers, with 57 horse-and-rider combinations lining up – but also with names such as Switzerland’s Steve Guerdat – 2012 Olympic Champion and current world number one – as well as Sweden’s Peder Fredricson – 2017 European Champion, 2016 Olympic silver medallist and current world no. four – among those on the start list. The course set by Elio Travagliati (ITA) reflected the quality of the horses and riders and only four pairs managed to clear the first round to join the deciding jump-off: Penelope Leprevost (FRA) on Vancouver de Lanlore (Toulon x Le Tot de Semilly), Janne Friederike Meyer-Zimmermann (GER) on Chesmu KJ (Cornet Obolensky x Calido I), Steve Guerdat (SUI) on Jonka-A (Cardento x Chin Chin) and Christian Kukuk (GER) on Checker 47 (Comme Il Faut 5 x Come on).
First to go in the jump-off, Leprevost set the standard when stopping the clocks on 39.01 but was instantly overtaken by Meyer-Zimmermann and Chesmu KJ after the pair clocked a time of 38.81. However, Guerdat and Jonka-A shaved off over a second on that time – leaving Kukuk with a lot of pressure as last to go. With a daring turn to the penultimate vertical, the German managed to clock a time of 36.60, taking home the win and pushing Guerdat to second, Meyer-Zimmermann to third and Leprevost to fourth.
“I was lucky to be the last to go,” Kukuk commented afterwards. “I saw how everyone before me jumped clear and went faster and faster, so going in I knew there was only one thing to do: If I wanted to win, I had to give everything and we did. When Steve is in the lead, you know there are no other options. I got a good angle to the double and when I landed, I saw a distance to the next fence,” he explained about his daredevil turn. “Checker has such a good head, and he is always fighting for me. For sure it was a big risk to take, but if you want to win, you have to try.”
“From he was four-years-old, Checker was stabled at Otto Becker’s,” Kukuk said about his now 11-year-old winning mount. “I got him at the beginning of November, and this is my fifth show with him.”
Kukuk believes that having some of the world’s best riders and many championship horses present in Oliva Nova reflected on the difficulty of today’s course. “The course was very tough today,” he explained. “It was maximum height and width, and the distances were half so you could leave out a stride or add. Especially the distance to the triple combination was difficult for many and caused a lot of problems. It was tough all over: I was not surprised that we only saw four clear rounds.”
Kukuk is a first timer in Oliva Nova, and is happy he came. “I have seven horses here and the weather makes such a difference. We have top conditions with good grounds, big rings, lots of space – my whole team likes it. I feel secure here: The organisers are very strict with their Covid-19 policy and they do everything they can to keep everyone safe.”
Photo © Hervé Bonnaud /