The equestrian world was left in shock late last summer when Martin Fuchs announced that his star horse Clooney 51 had suffered a career-ending shoulder injury.
The stunning grey was in his prime at 15 years old, and looked certain to add to his 2019 FEI European Championships title, FEI World Equestrian Games medal and a series of other big victories. Fuchs’ updates via social media made it clear just how special this horse is to the Swiss star, and the reaction from fans displays how much he is loved around the world. On the weekend he may well have added to his 2019 triumph in Basel under different circumstances, we celebrate the career of Clooney.
What was Clooney’s background?
Clooney 51 was foaled in 2006 in Bernd Richter’s stable in Germany and comes from the Westfalian studbook. His parents were the white stallion Cornet Obolensky and the mare Fräulein vom Moor, and half-siblings from the same father include Steve Guerdat’s Corbinian and Marcus Ehning’s Cornado NRW.
With his good breeding and having shown signs of potential as a young horse, Clooney was brought through as a five- and six-year-old by Sandra ter Bahne and switched to German athlete Jana Wargers at seven years old.
Wargers remembers the gelding having a fat belly! He was also missing some front teeth, which was the result of a fall as a three-year-old. However, Clooney made swift progress and finished sixth in the FEI/WBFSH World Breeding Jumping Championships for Young Horses in 2013. That performance was enough to see a surge in interest in Clooney, with Martin Fuchs, his father, Thomas, and associate Luigi Baleri particularly impressed.
Fuchs, then just 21 years old himself, visited the horse and they enjoyed an interesting first ride together. “At our first ride, Clooney panicked, jumped up in the air and made me fall down!” Fuchs recalled recently. However, there was enough chemistry there that Clooney was acquired by Baleri with a view to becoming Fuchs’ top horse in the coming years.
What were his major achievements?
Clooney made good progress under Fuchs and the pair won European Team bronze in 2015. The young duo were picked for the Swiss Olympic team in 2016 and finished ninth in the Individual competition in Rio De Janeiro. That same year a major victory at Aachen looked to be theirs before a bizarre incident. As they turned for the last, the stewards opened the arena gates, just as they were passing by. Clooney seemed to think he’d finished and Fuchs suffered a rare and unexpected run out, costing him the win.