Giulia Martinengo Marquet knows how to reveal tomorrow’s talents
You’re considered a true talent scout. You discovered Chiara and Galan S. What’s your secret to finding your star horses?
Each of them has their own story. With Chiara, it was just a coincidence. I was entrusted with this mare, who’d been ridden by Cameron Hanley. I asked him for his opinion, and he told me she was a star. I knew that the owner wanted to sell the mare and my dream was to ensure Chiara a career at the highest level. After 5 months, while I was at the San Patrignano competition, I decided to go and talk to Ludger Beerbaum about her. The dream came true a few months later, she returned to the stables having exceled in the Bratislava CSIO, at just 8 years old.
Little souvenir of Giulia with Chiara on the stable wall
And for Galan?
Galan was bought at 6 years old and at 8, he was already jumping the small Grand Prix in Piazza di Siena, which is not as small as it suggests. Then, it impossible to keep him.
The Wall of Fame of star horses ridden by Giulia
That is part of your job…
Yes, and it’s never frustrated me. On the contrary, I’ve always been rather proud of that. When you take a high level competitions’ starting list and see horses you picked out when they were young, it's very rewarding.
What are you looking for in a horse?
When I try a horse, what matters most to me is their intelligence. You have to have an understanding of them after that half-hour trial ride.
But aren't overly intelligent horses complicated?
Yes, but what high level horse isn't a little complicated? They all have a particular history. I must say that for them to do what I love, I need horses with blood, and snappy foreleg technique. I prefer a horse that has a little less ability but the will to go round and not have any faults, to another that jumps super high but sometimes drops a pole. In each category, you need a star, a warrior. It's the blood and speed that matter most to me. If you look at the horses I ride, they're fast, they have blood. That’s the case for my young ones, even if it doesn’t mean that they’ll all get to the top level, obviously. It was the same for Athletica: we wouldn't have bet that she’d be able to get to the highest level, but she was so warlike...
Giulia with Douce Emeraude d'Or (Univers d'Or), a 6-year-old who just joined her stables
At what age do you feel this?
It’s a matter of feeling. If a horse has this quality, they already have it at 4 years old. It may manifest itself in a wilder way, but you can already feel their will to win. We ask so much of our horses, who are in competition every week, that they must absolutely love what they do, and want to do well. And that makes a difference. You can have horses that are stars at home and are nothing at all out at competitions, and others with whom it’s the opposite: they give you everything once they’re in the ring. It's the only thing we can't train for. Even if they have a peculiar style, if they want to do a perfect job, they’ll do it. So, I always try to be very attentive to that. Of course, there’s that feeling, and there are the results: if the horse has already gone to a competition, I watch videos of his rounds. Take Casper, for example: today he is 8 years old and jumps 150cm, but we couldn't have predicted that before. However, he always had clear rounds, and that’s a good indicator.
All the facilities are in green surroundings
And where do you discover the stars of tomorrow? In competitions?
At competitions, I'm focused on my job, so it's Stefano who watches the horses or videos that we receive.
You ride several of Casall’s offspring (Casper and Scuderia 1918 Princy are two of them), is there a particular reason?
No. I have one or two stallions that I don't like at all, but I don't have any particular favorites. First, I listen to the horse, what I feel on them, before I get interested in their breeding.
You buy between 3 and 4 horses per year, how do you have so many good ones?
You always need two things: to select them carefully and train them correctly. I always say that in our sport, 80% of the result comes from the horse. I feel good when I know that I’ve given the horse everything I could, that I’ve given them every opportunity. Not all of them are Grand Prix horses, sometimes we’re wrong too. What I’m not embarrassed to say is that we’re giving them the time they need. We’re never in a hurry. Stefano doesn't put pressure on me, I don't put pressure on him either. Our two owners are ok with this. Whether it’s Madame Bettoni, who owns a share in most of my horses, or the people at Scuderia 1918, we’ve always been transparent about how we operate. However, once we’re ready, we’re the first to go for it.
What method do you use with young horses?
We establish a plan that corresponds to the horse's temperament. A very good horse but sensitive horse will especially need routine. But with young horses, as with others, we’re never in a hurry. My horses never make the finals, they’re never in Lanaken. That’s a typical example of the pressure that I don't like to put on the young ones. It’s not in line with our philosophy. They do quiet competitions. When they're 6 or 7 years old, I like to take them to the big competitions. Then they can familiarize themselves with this world and these places which can sometimes be intimidating. One of my horses that belongs to Scuderia 1918 made it to St. Gallen in the youngsters, I think that's great. They can go there without the pressure of jumping tracks that they may one day do there. Casper came to Falsterbo. I knew I couldn't ride him in the Grand Prix, or the big event on the first day. So, he did two 145cms and the 150cm on the last day. Back home, he was another horse.
You only buy horses by trying them out, not by seeing them jump freely?
Exactly. As we breed a little, we already have enough of the very young horses.
Do you ride the young ones yourself in competition?
Yes, even when they're 4 years old. We share them with our stable rider.
Are you aiming for the high level, but without the commercial aspect?
We’re trying to do both. We’ve sold horses like Chiara, Galan and Caballero. Fortunately, when I had Athletica, I had also had another good 9-year-old mare, so I was able to keep Athletica and sell the other to one of Beezie Madden’s pupils. The majority of our sales are from riding the good horses, at the right level, in competitions that people see. We always have horses to carry on with, but if we sell one, we have to time it right and hope that we’ve got another horse who can take over from them. Last year, Verdine was at the top and this allowed Elzas and Princy to mature some more. This season, Elzas is on the front line and that’s allowing the next generation to continue developing. Now, with the support of Scuderia 1918, that’s changing a lot. They have a long-term vision for the future and are passionate.
Will this boost your career in the coming years?
Yes, maybe. Stefano and I have had to sell good horses sometimes, while with Scuderia 1918, we can plan for the longer term. We'll see. This is a very recent collaboration.
To be continued tomorrow...