The latest edition of the Rolex Grand Slam newsletter covered an interesting interview with talent of the next gen, Thibaut Keller. The nineteen-year-old Swiss show jumping rider talked about his career so far, and his plans for the future ...
What are your plans, dreams and ambitions for 2023?
My ambition and plan for 2023 is to achieve a podium during the European Championships at Riesenbeck International in September.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
The proudest moment of my career so far was when I received the gold medal during the 2020 Junior Swiss Championships at Chalet-à-Gobet. The horse I rode was called Cosby, and I was very proud of our performance, as we did not touch one bar throughout the whole tournament.
How much are you looking forward to CHI Geneva and how confident are you feeling?
I hope to win the prestigious Land Rover U25 Grand Prix at CHI Geneva. However, as the world’s elite attend the event, I would be very happy if I made the top three, so a podium in my age category would be amazing.
When did your love for show jumping start, and who has inspired you the most throughout your career?
I first got into horse riding and show jumping when I was 10 years old. My inspiration was the Dutch show jumper Jeroen Dubbeldam.
What attributes do you believe a successful show jumper needs?
I believe that to be a successful show jumper and rider, you need to be willing, to be motivated to train, to work, to understand the horses, and to constantly understand and provide them with crucial necessities and opportunities. I also believe that to excel in this sport you need a supportive team behind you.
Tell us a little bit about your stable of horses – which ones are you most excited about?
My stable is primarily a business, we are constantly training and preparing horses to be sold but I personally own and train 18 horses, and I have competed with most of them. I currently have a young mare who is called Filomene Du Sart, and she will help me achieve great things once I compete with her. I will be taking my best horse to CHI Geneva, a stallion called Arley De Vayrie.
How important is your team – your groom, your farrier, your coach, your vet, your owner?
My team, which comprises grooms, farriers, a coach, and several vets, is very important – they all attend the shows with us. This is for precautions, but we want to ensure that the horses needs are met, and are treated excellently. All the decisions, and as a result the teams’ actions, always have the horses’ needs, and health at heart. In the end, this allows us to excel and succeed whilst achieving positive rankings. We bring a few vets, as they know how to treat the horses, and what’s specific to each of them. All our decisions and actions are made to achieve the best for the horses.
What do you love most about show jumping? Competing, the camaraderie with the other riders, travelling the world…
The aspect that I love the most is that I am show jumping with my national teammates. I am constantly observing and learning from my teammates, specifically the improvements that they are making, and this benefits myself as a competing rider.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
The best piece of advice that I have received is that you truly have to be passionate about our job, show jumping. You not only need to be motivated about training yourself but you need to connect with the horses, which allows you to prosper as a team. Another good piece of advice I’ve received is that in this sport there are a lot of risks but the rewards outweigh them.
How positive do you believe the Rolex Grand Slam has been for the sport of show jumping?
Rolex is an extremely well-known brand, with major prestige. It is every rider’s goal to compete in the Rolex Grand Slam.
Just like tennis and golf, show jumping has its very own Grand Slam. Which of the other sporting ‘Majors’ do you love watching, and which is your favourite and why?
I sometimes watch the tennis Grand Slams, as I looked up to Rolex Testimonee, Roger Federer – being from Switzerland myself, I naturally supported him. From watching the different tournaments, I have noticed the prestige, glamour, and influence of the other Grand Slams, which Rolex is deeply connected with.
What do you do in your free time outside of Show Jumping?
For the majority of my time, I train and look after my horses so I have limited time to myself. However, when I do, I play a lot of football. Another way that I like to relax is by going go-karting with my friends but we do not do this frequently.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you take with you?
I would bring a boat, as it would allow me to access the closest island nearby, but I would not want to forget about the necessities that I would need to rely on to survive, such as a certain food and a water bottle.
Source: Rolex Grand Slam of Show Jumping
Photo: © Hippofoto / Rolex Grand Slam News