Giulia Martinengo Marquet knows how to reveal tomorrow’s talents
You live in a real piece of paradise next to Lake Garda. How did you choose to live there?
We’ve been here for 15 years. We fell in love with the house first. We started very slowly, setting out our priorities. Because between the house and the forest that borders the estate below, there was nothing. First, we built the stables, and the indoor and outdoor arenas. We worked on half of the outdoor arena for a year. Then we continued to expand. It’s a private property, but we like to have people around us and see the stables full. It’s a lively place, with several stables. We like to have professionals that have their own business and grooms here. Then, in the morning when you step out into the ring, you're not alone.
Giulia and Stefano's beautiful house
It’s a rural setting, far from the center of Europe where the majority of the competitions take place…
Stefano and I discussed that a lot when we moved here. He has two children from his first marriage, and they were often with us, so he didn't want to leave. Then we really fell in love with this place and its quality of life. We’re very attached to Italy, much more than we thought. Yes, we may miss out by staying here, because there’s more business to be done abroad. It also impacts you when you're looking for a horse. You’re told that a horse is for sale, but by the time you get there, you’ll be the 4th or 5th rider to try it, and it may even be sold before you arrive. But Italy is Italy, and we don’t regret our choice.
From the riding arena, the view is breathtaking over the surrounding hills and the Lake Garda region.
And how does it impact the horses?
I have a great groom. He's wonderful. If you tell him you have to go to Honolulu, he'll manage to get you there! You don't have to organize anything. He drives well, he keeps the horses calm. So even though there's a little more travelling to competitions, it doesn't matter too much.
In the stables with Douce Emeraude d'Or
Tell us about the stable’s organization…
It’s often said that this is an individual sport, but it’s thanks to the work of an entire team that you’re able to succeed. I’d like to thank the grooms, stable riders, our stable manager, the blacksmiths, veterinarians, the person in charge of my communication and my sponsors. They allow me to stay focused on competing. At our place there are more than 60 horses, 15 of which are in my string. I get on my first horse very early and then move on because I don't like riding in the afternoon. I prefer to ride all my horses every day rather than train them alternately. We’re able to do this thanks to our intern, Camilla. There’s the warm-up, with the trotting and canter on a long rein, that my rider does very well, then 20 to 30 minutes of intense work. So, Camilla warms them up for me, then I get in the saddle and do the second part of the job, which allows me to work each of them. I’m also lucky that Stefano still rides 2 or 3 horses every day.
What about the other horses you have in your SGH Stables (Stefano and Giulia Horses)?
There’s Beatrice Guidi who rides the young horses at home and in competitions. I currently have two 6 years old that I’ve been riding myself - Princy (Casall), for example, that I’ve been riding since she was 4 years old. There are no strict rules, but in general it goes like that. Beatrice trains the young ones, and she is trained by Stefano and Jos Kumps when he comes here.
Beatrice Guidi, the young horses' rider
With so many horses, and especially so many young ones, how do you do business?
Yes. This isn’t a commercial stable where customers come and try horses every day. We work mainly to ensure succession. Of course, we sell horses, but it happens more because the horse goes out and competes and catches someone's eyes. That's the way sales usually work.
Giulia and Daytona de la Caccia
What about your facilities?
There’s a sand and a grass arena, a walker, a treadmill, a covered arena and 10 grass paddocks. I find it important that all horses get turned out for at least 2 hours a day
Dogs and horses enjoy the Italian dolce vita...
What is your lead horses’ program?
It’s important that all horses go out and enjoy the paddock several times a day. During the competition season, we mainly just keep them in shape and, most importantly, we do everything we can to keep them in good spirits. They do a lot of walking, and obviously there are still days when I work with them more intensively. Elzas and Casper vd Rode Poelhoeve (Casall) are horses that have very easy-going temperaments. Casper is making a lot of progress in the ring, and Elzas is lazier at home. No one would want to buy him if they saw him at home! However, once he’s in the ring, he is a real warrior.
Tell us Elzas’ (Diamant de Semilly) story…
Usually, we don’t buy 8-year-old horses, only young ones. This time, however, we went to France to try several young horses at Guillaume Roland Billecart and he told us that he also had a good 8-year-old. It was Elzas. In the end, we took Elzas and none of the young ones. Life sometimes brings you opportunities that you can’t pass up, even if that means you need to change your plans. He still needed to mature a little more, he was almost too hot in the ring, a little sensitive. I took him to Barcelona last year, he won a 2* Grand Prix and then he finished 3rd in an event on Sunday. And this season, he started off by winning at Oliva and then... he just exploded at the top level. He was mentally ready.
Elzas and Giulia at the Longines Masters of Lausanne, where the pair took 2nd place of the Grand Prix
How do you manage a sporting career and being a mom at the same time?
I'm lucky enough to have a great team around me. The big competitions often take place in the Summer, so my daughter Bianca can come with us. We don't have Grandparents living close by, but we’re lucky that we’re like a big family in this stable. People have been working here for a very long time and Bianca's cousins are always at the stables. So, if she can't come with us because of school, there's always someone to look after her and bring her to the competition. It works very well.
Again at the Longines Masters of Lausanne
Is competing during the World Cup a goal for you?
I’d like to participate in the tour in the future, but at the moment I don't have a sufficient number of horses in my string. In the past, I was able to ride in Oslo, Helsinki, Stuttgart and of course Verona, but I couldn’t get to the final. It kept me riding at a good level.
The sand paddock is next to the riding arena and stables
How do you plan your season?
We’ve always started the season in Oliva - for 8 years. We like being able to go to the sea. The tour is the perfect start to the season. You can bring all your horses, the youngest, the most experienced, and the sales horses. We leave with 30 horses. When we get back, we do Arezzo, then the Italian Championship and Rome in June. And if you get good results, there are beautiful competitions around in Summer. If you don't do the Global (Champions Tour), or the World Cups, this program works well. When you go to Rome, it’s already the end of May. Then there’s Barcelona in October, Verona and the season is already behind you by then.
Do you also ride young horses in competition?
I don't just have high level horses. I also like to ride the young ones, even the 4-year-olds, in competitions.
So you’re not obsessed by the top level?
No, I like doing it all. However, I am obsessed with results, and I’m very competitive. I'm very hard on myself. Of course, I love the top level, but I like to do everything I do well, whether it's a 5* or a course with a young horse. However, I hate competing if I don't have a chance to win.
To be continued tomorrow...